Review of Of Kings, Queens and Colonies by Johnny Worthen
Humans have relocated to a ten-planet system called Coronam.
Each planet has its drawbacks and advantages. Various factions proceed to war over the resources and ownership. This is an epic with medieval warfare, space ships, and political subtexts. Told through 16 points of view, the tale could get a little convoluted, but each chapter offered additional insight into the world building, which overall, left an excellent impression and kept me wanting more.
More books in the Coronam series are on the way and I plan to give them a read. If anything could be improved I would say some of the characters needed to be fleshed out. Sometimes, the author would kill one of them off, and I’d wished to read more about their backstory.
Worthen has a balanced writing style. I got the sense that he was good at all aspects of writing but not incredible at any of them. The word choice was proficient, the sentences slid from thriller-esque in structure to more grand and sweeping fantasy narration when necessary. Each chapter left us with a mini-cliff hanger, and the characters were realistic. The dialogue was also multi-layered, but alas, many of the passages were not particularly memorable. A few scenes could be classed ‘generic.’ But you will undoubtedly have a good time. This is not as cheesy as pulp science fiction, and not as overblown as typical high fantasy. You get a cool mash up of space, medieval tactics, and religious inquisition atmosphere.
The narration never beats you over the head with exposition. I could tell that the author spent a lot of time planning and executing his overarching plots and segmented episodes in a calculated manner. There was nothing extraneous really, and aside from a stray filler word once every ten pages or so, the editing is pristine. It reads quickly, and has an elaborate setting. I honestly think he could have slowed down and spent an extra hundred pages or so enriching the description. While the scenery isn’t scrimpy, it’s not pushed to its full potential.
I’ve listened to the author speak several times at conferences and it is clear to me he has a strong understanding of storytelling and composition. I will delve deeper into his works, since he’s produced a lot of variety and jumped from genre to genre. He may not be as renowned as Brandon Sanderson or those big shots, but his work has individual character and is vivid and believable. I enjoyed this more than Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings. Worthen’s writing does not feel forced. He doesn’t waste the reader’s time or put on airs. He is a hard-working writer turning out a lot of interesting stuff.
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