Review: A Mark of Kings (The Shattered Reigns #1) by Bryce O’Connor & Luke Chmilenko

MY ⭐️ RATING: 3.75/5

Format: Kindle Whispersync


Despite his youth, Declan Idrys knows of the evils of the world. He knows of the bastards and brigands who plague the King’s lands, of the monsters skulking in the wooded depths of the realm. Together with his companion, Ryn – a beast of rather peculiar talent – he has spent the last decade of his life beneath the bloody banners of a half-dozen mercenary guilds, hunting precisely such festering wickedness within the borders of Viridian.

Unfortunately, fate is quick to pull on the leash of its favorite children. When one particularly troubling contract goes sideways, Declan and Ryn find themselves thrust into a war thought legend and long-ended, a conflict so old it is synonymous with a time in which dragons still ruled the western skies. Now, as dead men rise from their graves and the terrible beasts of the northern ranges descend into the kingdom with an appetite for savagery and flesh, Declan is faced with a profane choice. He can turn, can flee an ancient rising horror that would see the realms of man left as shattered death and wind-blown ash.
Or, Declan can face this mounting threat, can come to terms with the fact that his oldest friend might just be more than he appears, and learn to wield an ageless power all his own.

Centuries pass, after all, but the Blood of Kings does not fade…


I have never read/listened to anything from either author before this, but this cover is just eye candy 🥵 and I couldn’t resist not opening it. I also decided to back the Kickstarter for the Special Edition signed Hard back (pictured below), which are also spicy, of this without reading it first. But now I have and it was a good read.

O’Connor and Chmilenko build a fascinating world where we follow mercenary Declan Idrys and his companions, a shape-shifting, telepathic (mind-speak) named Ryn, a half-elf and a mage with tons of classic tropes in this single POV sword and sorcery, epic fantasy. I thought Nick Podehl did such a fantastic job narrating the story. The voices that he used were truly great, he got into every word, including the shouts and you could feel every emotion as if it was you, yourself in Declan’s boots.

“Most unfortunately, conviction can only hold at bay for so long the callous realities of the world.”

This is more or less a story about discovery through several info dumps of the history of Viridian and Declan’s familial history throughout the book with some exciting fight scenes sprinkled in, and when I say exciting, I mean EXCITING and gave a nice breather through the information learned during travels. It does have a somewhat basic magic system, nothing really crazy or unique, but that does not take away from it. At times, I did find myself sidetracked. Not out of boredom, but just from so much information being dropped at once in between battles.

The final 25% of the book was much better than the first 75%, the final 10% raised the bar even higher. I feel like some of the backstory could’ve been in book 2 rather than it all being in this one. But with how much was given, I expect book 2 (A Blood of Kings) to be a lot more action packed. Do not sleep on this book!

Kickstarter Special Edition Hardbacks

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