Saturday, August 29, 2015

Early Critique: "The Sleeping King" by Cindy Dees & Bill Flippin

Disclaimer: I was given a free advance e-copy of this book from Tor Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My opinion remains as forthright as ever.

Expected Release Date: September 8th

When I began reading this, I was completely smitten with it. The elements I love were in alignment: shady politics, immortal tyrant, young people stumbling upon their magical abilities, and an almost limitless variety of different races of humanoids. The worldbuilding was in The Sleeping King's favor as well- lots of factions, trades, and mythical creatures to be found. I love those all those fantastic elements! Even the pacing was spot on.

The characters, while fairly mainstream in fantasy, still had me concerned when they ran into trouble. My favorite character by far arrived about halfway through, a lizardman girl named Sha'Li, who spiced up the group of characters considerably. Still, compared with the impressive worldbuilding, I was a bit put out that the characters weren't so dynamic.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'For almost twenty years she's been involved with Dragon Crest, one of the original live action role-playing games. She's the story content creator on the game, and wanted to do an epic fantasy based on it, with the blessing and input of Dragon Crest founder Bill Flippin.
'The Sleeping King is the first in an epic fantasy series, featuring the best of the genre: near immortal imperial overlords, a prophecy of a sleeping elven king who's said to be the savior of the races . . . and two young people who are set on a path to save the day.'

The problems arose as I neared the end. The storyline, which had originally been extremely multi-faceted, devolved to follow only the main quest: to find the Sleeping King. Sure, there were complications with the main quest, and other forces became apparent as the book drew on. But by then, the surprise factor had worn off, and what I originally had assumed would become a new favorite epic fantasy of mine, became a book I would like to own a physical copy of, but with no dire need of it. Since the book is based on a live action RPG, it makes much more sense that everything else would be so fully fleshed, leaving much of the plot to follow a more linear direction.

If you've ever played the Elder Scrolls, you may find many of the humanoid beings familiar. Although I would've preferred beings I've never ever seen before in fantasy, at some point it's hard to be 'new' without inspiring memories of that book, that movie, or that video game. Still, I prefer fantasy books like The Sleeping King with lots of different races to fantasy books with just plain old humans with a pocket full of magic.

I also had issues with some of the later antagonists, the Boki. When we get to see them up close and personal, none of them really have a distinct personality. Yes, they are supposed to be highly skilled warriors, and therefore maybe have no room for personality, but I was disappointed nonetheless. I'm beginning to feel terribly for orc-like people, as they are always cast as the villains.

The Sleeping King had a beginning that swept me off my feet... but an ending that didn't quite match my expectations. Regardless of that, it has a lot of magic left for those of us who love to see amazing worldbuilding and distinctive races. If you're okay with books that lack in the character and plot department, but deliver the complete package with a fully fleshed fantasy world, I'd recommend this book. Otherwise, you could probably skip it.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a good start to a series that I expected a bit more from.

Content: Ages 16+ for bloodshed/violence/gore, and a strange lion that changes into a horse... or maybe that was accidental?

Page Count: 496 pages


  1. I read so little fantasy, and I'm not a huge fan of RPG but always wondered about orcs :) Poor orcs, as you say, is that a fantasy stereotype?

    1. Yes, orcish people being "bad" is pretty much THE fantasy stereotype in many books. Some authors use it in their favor, but for the most part, if a character is described orc-like (or brutish) that is a big indicator they will be a villain.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, guiltless reader!
      ~Litha Nelle


Feel Free to Express Yourself:
Agree? Disagree? Have something to add?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...