After forty years of peace, the continent of Candor has once again been plunged into war. Kull Shepherd’s father has been kidnapped, ripped from the burning furnace that was once his home. Willyn Kara’s brother hovers between life and death, poisoned by an unknown assassin. Seam Panderean is the High King of Lotte, the fate of the Realm resting on his shoulders. The destiny of these three are locked, on a course for an unavoidable collision as an ancient evil waits in the shadows, waiting to be freed from its bondage.
There is only one hope for peace.
The Keeper of the Keys must return.
The first in a series, The Red Deaths transports the reader to the land ofCandor, a fictional realm whose history is speckled with fantasy and mystery. Its citizens live amidst typical political alliances and disruptions, yet whispers and stirrings suggest that the face of Candor's skirmishes may not be the entire story. Perhaps the wild and whimsical bedtime stories told toCandor's children aren't just stories either, but are in fact its true history. And if such tales are true, then the dangers Candor faces are not unimaginable, but only buried, concealed, and...awakening.
The beginning of this book was very confusing, primarily because of seemingly indecisive world-building. It felt like the authors couldn’t quite decide what technology level to base their world at. The opening scene is a boy receiving a sword lesson, with a dying mother, living in a quiet logging town. So sounds like a fairly typical fantasy world, with swords etc. Then a train appears, belching out smoke. Oh, okay, so an industrial revolution type world. Then some hover-craft with rockets and electric tazers burst onto the scene. Hmm, so maybe 1940’s sort of technology? Then some autonomous flying TV cameras that live-stream across the globe are mentioned. So a current or even futuristic level of technology, maybe? It made settling into the story a bit difficult. I don’t think it would require too many changes to make it easier to settle in, or perhaps even an expanded description of the book to prepare the reader might improve the situation.
That all said, the writing style and characterisation are good. There are three main characters. Kull, an average young man who has just seen his father taken by the enemy (and is subsequently sent on a suicide mission by his apparently insane mother). A prince/newly crowned young King, who wants both to avenge his father and peace for his people (conflicting goals). And a girl/princess/general whose brother (king) is dying of poisoning, which triggered the war this is all set around. Each is an interesting character and, as I said, the characterisation is good, and I did begin to feel a bit of a link to these characters and their individual goals and dreams. The plot swaps between different characters, but stays with each character long enough to develop the plot well in each section. The pace of the story is good and does quite a good job of telling the two sides of a war where each side feels justified and there is no clear bad-guy.
If / When you get past the difficulties at the start of this book, it becomes enjoyable. While I would personally like to see some revisions, for more open-minded readers this is worth delving into.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
In “real life” they hold their posts as a librarian and a banker respectfully enough, but have always had deep interests in creating art, music, and now stories.
Keys of Candor: The Red Deaths is their first collaboration.
It won’t be their last.
Author Links: Webpage