The Heretic Kings is the second book in the Monarchies of God series. My review by necessity contains some spoilers for the first book although I’ve kept spoilers for this book to a bare minimum. Review below the break.
The Heretic Kings seems initially like somewhat of a departure from the grim beginning which was Hawkwood’s Voyage. The link between the religious war on the main colony and the discovery and exploration of the mysterious Western continent seems even more tentative in this book and this is acknowledged by Paul Kearney as the book is divided into two. Some readers may find it frustrating not having the mixture of character view points but the books pace means I didn’t ever feel frustrated at being in one particular view point for too long.
The darkness of the first book also initially appears to be lost. This is more a result of plot pacing and the story development than any conscious effort on the part of Paul Kearney. This is neatly illustrated in the closing sections of the book which were dark, shocking and left me eager to read the next book in the series.
The characters seem less complex than the previous book and I’m beginning to see the criticism that others have made concerning this. I don’t think the story is trying to tell a complex character piece though, only a thrilling adventure, so this all depends on individual readers tastes. I also found the middle portion of the book where Hawkwood’s story continues a little generic. There wasn’t anything new here that I’ve not read in previous fantasy novels and the religious war aspect and twists regarding the findings of two monks entertained me further.
Overall I didn’t enjoy The Heretic Kings as much as the first novel in the series. It’s still a good book and I’m avidly reading the third. I think that this novel might suffer a little from middle book syndrome. Pieces are moved into new places ready for the next novel leaving the only complete story the weakest middle portion.