Kings or Pawns by J.J. Sherwood

Can a King stand up to his corrupt council or will he end up a victim of the political game?

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Kings or PawnsTitle:  Kings or Pawns
Author:  J. J. Sherwood
SeriesThe Kings Book 01
Publish Date:  July 5, 2016
Genre:  Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s DescriptionThe first book in JJ Sherwood’s Steps of Power epic fantasy series. The Kings, Book I: Kings or Pawns is a political intrigue that spirals into an action and adventure series as the final events unfold.

8,994 P.E.—The elven city of Elvorium has become corrupted to the core by politics. With his father dead and the Royal Schism at his back, Prince Hairem ascends the throne as king of the elven world on Sevrigel. Young and bold, Hairem is determined to undo the council’s power, but the brutal murders by an assassin loosed within the city threaten to undermine the king’s ambitions.

As corruption and death threaten to tear Elvorium apart from within, the warlord Saebellus threatens the city from without, laying siege to Sevrigel’s eastern capital. With the elven world crumbling around him, Hairem finds himself in a dangerous political balance between peace and all out war.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

So readers, you should probably know that I’m a huge fan of high fantasy. Give me epic battle scenes, kings and queens, ancient races like elves, dwarves, and orcs, and sword and sorcery any day. It’s pretty much everything I love since I’ve always been enamoured with authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, Michael J. Sullivan, and Brandon Sanderson.

You can guess my excitement when I received JJ Sherwood’s first book in her trilogy, Kings or Pawns, as a One Book Two request. I practically jumped on it.

And guys, I was not let down. Elves + Necromancy + magic in general + some awesome battle scenes = Kat Mandu is a very happy person. Not to mention the absolutely beautiful writing. Every chapter and page are filled with descriptions that enable you to envision the whole book from start to finish. JJ has a lot going for her, including twists and turns that keep you guessing, but also that vivid imagery I mentioned above. It’s a great debut and I really enjoyed it.

Plus, when you’ve seen Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies a little too much, you tend to start picturing some of the elves in the book as certain actors (cough, cough Orlando Bloom) and that makes it really cool too.

What intrigued me so much about this was the “necromancy” and “demonic” plot lines. I’ve always loved the idea of necromancy—being able to bring someone back from the dead, controlling zombies and certain demons, not to mention the occasional ability to create dreams and nightmares with negative energy (Can you tell I’m a D&D nerd? Cause I am).

But there’s more than that. The whole book thrusts you into a world of political intrigue, favors, and deception. The characters bring the plot to life as it often switches points of view between a soldier with a couple of bad enemies he’s got to face on the battlefield, a fresh king dealing with dodgy Elven politics, and a few other interesting roles. Each character is unique and strong in their own ways as the plot moves forward and throws them to the wolves in different scenarios.

badge5v4If you haven’t figured it out, I really liked this book. And I hope you do too! So check out the Steps of Power website here: and join JJ’s mailing list for some cool stuff! Plus, that site looks great with all that fantasy-inspired artwork. I really love the visual you get when you hop on the page.

Ohhhh, and there’s a giveaway for it too:

Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

What I liked: I really like the characters of Alvena, a mute servant girl, and Jikun, a general. Alvena’s thoughts are sassy and I feel she is one of the only truly loyal subjects of the king. Plus, she beats on an assassin, how cool is that considering most women in this time period were meek and quiet? Jikun is often blasphemous, but he is loyal and strong. The plot is an interesting one and has some twists and surprises that I didn’t see coming. I also liked that there is a pronunciation table at the beginning of the book

What I didn’t like: There were many characters, places, races, pets, and religions. It sometimes made it hard to know if the author was talking about a person, place, or thing. I also feel that the few female characters in this novel were underutilized, especially the strong ones. Alvena and even Isevel, a merchant’s daughter who became queen, had so much more potential. Hopefully we will get to see it put to use in the coming novels.

badge4v4I honestly struggled with what to rate Kings or Pawns. I bounced back and forth between a three and a four. There are a lot of strong characters and some solid writing here, but there are so many of those characters that it’s hard to keep track and sometimes the political game made the book slow. I eventually decided to give this book four stars because of the characters and the twists that made my jaw drop.

If you like this book…

…you might try The Sleeping King by Cindy Dees; A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin; Thief Prince by Cheree Alsop; Mistborn or The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson; Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch; The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


About Kat Mandu

I'm an urban fantasy and young-adult paranormal writer. I love to cook, rock out to music, and read as much as I can get my hands on. Always believe in your dreams and pursue them no matter what the cost. If you believe in it, it's worth every chance you take.

Posted on August 10, 2016, in Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This is a book that must be read more than once to be fully appreciated. There is just so much to absorb that it is possible to miss crucial information on the first read. The blog tour has been very helpful in figuring things out. I’ve had revelations about two of the characters from reading JJSherwood FAQs and interviews, so thank you for providing her with a platform to showcase her work. I am appreciating her descriptive talents even more the second time around.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Heroes or Thieves by J.J. Sherwood | One Book Two

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