The Kinsman trilogy by Jill Williamson continues in King’s Blood. After leaving the Five Realms and barely escaping with their lives, Trevn and Wilek, along with what is left of their kingdom and the other realms, search for a new land to call home. They know nothing of the world beyond the Five Realms, but they must find a place for their people to settle before they run out of food. Meanwhile, Wilek struggles with his newfound faith in Arman as he counters treasonous plots on all sides to take over the throne before he can officially be crowned king. Can he learn to put his trust in Arman, even when it seems to work against the safety and welfare of his kingdom?
There is such a wealth of plot, character, and world development in this story that it will be a struggle to do justice to the book without writing a novel-length review. Recognizing that no review can do King’s Blood justice, I will attempt to tell you about my favorite aspects and characters. To begin with, Jill Williamson has once again proven she is a genius when it comes to building storyworld. When last we left our heroes in King’s Folly, they were sailing off into the unknown world, after escaping the destruction of their homeland. The majority of King’s Blood takes place on the water so the plot moves from ship to ship as it follows different characters. Each ship has a different personality because of the varying cultures on board, but they all have the same problems: how to find land before supplies ran out, and with no knowledge of where they are headed. It was interesting to see the various plots and agendas of the different nations continue to play out even though they were on ships and were limited in what they could do to further their goals.
Trevn takes it upon himself to learn everything there is to know about running a ship, from the cabin-boy’s duties to the navigator’s. These were some of my favorite parts to read, mostly because Trevn is my favorite character, but I also found the navigational lessons intriguing, especially the way they factored into the plot. When they do find land, Trevn throws himself fully into exploration. New territory, land and sea, means new geography, new creatures, and new people, all of which were fascinating to read about, especially when I could make connections to the Blood of Kings series.
Bless Wilek’s heart, I could feel the heaviness of his burden during the course of this book. As heir to the throne, he takes his responsibility to his people very seriously, but as his father is still alive, he is still limited in what he is able to do. He wants to do the right thing and he wants to steer his people toward the Armanite faith, knowing firsthand that the pagan religion of his father only leads to destruction. However, he still has to defer to his father, which becomes more and more difficult as the king’s health and mind continues to deteriorate. Making the right decision also proves difficult because trusting Arman means he makes decisions others tell him are foolish. I felt the weight on his shoulders as he walked the lines of diplomacy and faith. He faces some very difficult choices in this book, and even as I knew certain choices were wrong, I could sympathize with the temptation to make them. It reminded me of the verses in the Bible about leaders and teachers being judged more harshly than others. I loved Wilek’s character because he never shies away from his duties or takes his position lightly.
Hinck’s storyline was my favorite of the supporting characters. When I first met him in King’s Folly, he seemed like a weak character who just did what he was told. In King’s Blood, I gained a new respect for him as he took ownership of his role of a spy to actively work towards the good of the throne. Even when his role held no benefit for him, and even when it asked too much of him, he chooses self-sacrifice. There was much to admire about him in this book and I enjoyed reading his story. I look forward to what the author will do with his character in the next book!
Jill Williamson created another epic masterpiece in the continuation of her Kinsman Chronicles. I enjoyed King’s Blood even more than King’s Folly, as all the characters were already established and I could jump straight into the story. My only regret is that I had to finish the book at some point and now I must wait to see what will happen to these beloved characters next. Warning: you might want to have a stash of chocolate handy as you read this book, especially as you near the ending. However, as the author so beautifully points out, the final pages of this book are “Not The End”, and I will wait with eager anticipation for the final installment of The Kinsman Chronicles. In the meantime, I will be revisiting my favorite moments of King’s Blood and encouraging others to read this fantastic series! Enjoy!