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King of the Rising

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The second novel in the Islands of Blood and Storm series set in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression—perfect for fans of R.F. Kuang and Tasha Suri. A revolution has swept through the islands of Hans Lollik and former slave Loren Jannik has been chosen to lead the survivors in a bid to free the islands forever. But the rebels are running out o The second novel in the Islands of Blood and Storm series set in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression—perfect for fans of R.F. Kuang and Tasha Suri. A revolution has swept through the islands of Hans Lollik and former slave Loren Jannik has been chosen to lead the survivors in a bid to free the islands forever. But the rebels are running out of food, weapons and options. And as the Fjern inch closer to reclaiming Hans Lollik with every battle, Loren is faced with a choice that could shift the course of the revolution in their favor-or doom it to failure.


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The second novel in the Islands of Blood and Storm series set in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression—perfect for fans of R.F. Kuang and Tasha Suri. A revolution has swept through the islands of Hans Lollik and former slave Loren Jannik has been chosen to lead the survivors in a bid to free the islands forever. But the rebels are running out o The second novel in the Islands of Blood and Storm series set in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression—perfect for fans of R.F. Kuang and Tasha Suri. A revolution has swept through the islands of Hans Lollik and former slave Loren Jannik has been chosen to lead the survivors in a bid to free the islands forever. But the rebels are running out of food, weapons and options. And as the Fjern inch closer to reclaiming Hans Lollik with every battle, Loren is faced with a choice that could shift the course of the revolution in their favor-or doom it to failure.

30 review for King of the Rising

  1. 4 out of 5

    karen

    i don't know if i am going to actually review this book so much as talk around my experience with this book/series. there's a big fat (figurative) elephant at the end of this one, and it influenced the way i felt about the whole book, but it cannot be mentioned, so imma try to dance around it best i can. bear with me. in short, i wanted to like this book/series more than i did. the covers are gorgeous, and—less superficially—the premise is appealing; a magic-infused take on slave rebellions duri i don't know if i am going to actually review this book so much as talk around my experience with this book/series. there's a big fat (figurative) elephant at the end of this one, and it influenced the way i felt about the whole book, but it cannot be mentioned, so imma try to dance around it best i can. bear with me. in short, i wanted to like this book/series more than i did. the covers are gorgeous, and—less superficially—the premise is appealing; a magic-infused take on slave rebellions during danish colonization of the virgin islands. but while i liked parts of it very much—the characters, the tension, and especially the way they wrote the memory-erasure sequences—i had the same fundamental problems with this one as i did with Queen of the Conquered: it was confusing and there was too much exposition—we are told too many things instead of experiencing events alongside the characters. this tendency to info-dump is made more exasperating by the constant barrage of proper nouns, which slowed me down considerably. Each island had a lead contact in the network of whispers, who, following the night of the first revolt, should have beome the leaders of each island as well. The leader of Skov Helle is a man named Lambert; the leader of Nørup Helle, a man named Martijn. The leader of Årud Helle is a woman named Voshell. i'm notoriously bad at reading fantasy because it's hard for me to keep the strings of fantasy people, places, and things from tangling in my head. Kjerstin asks to speak with any scouts who might be on the island, but Zeger says that all messengers had left Nørup Helle to contact Hans Lollik Helle and never returned. "We assumed they were killed by the Fjern at sea." i also experienced some geographical confusion, which is entirely my fault. i'm very maps-schmaps, so even when they have been courteously provided by the author to enhance my reading experience, i never look at 'em. so, although i could have turned to the helpful map at any point when things were getting jumbled up in my mind, i did not. mea culpa. still, there are too damn many similarly-named islands, and characters are forever traveling to one or another, and then returning from one or another, or temporarily relocating to one or another, and i had to keep pausing to remember which fresh helle is this? so, yes—i found it difficult to sink into the story, i was often confused, there were times when i felt like i was missing pages; trying to track down where certain characters were or what had actually happened, and when, because—again—so much of this book's events transpire through exposition rather than action. mind you, there was plenty i did understand, and even enjoyed, in between my page-flipping confusion. this takes place directly after the events of Queen of the Conquered, and the idealistic løren jannik has been chosen to lead the revolution of what remains of his people against what remains of the fjern. they are still vastly outnumbered. their situation isn't completely hopeless: the islanders have weapons and warriors, and their abilities are underestimated by the fjern, giving them the element of surprise. additionally, people fighting for a cause; for their freedom, fight hard, and those accustomed to deprivations and performing hard labor in unforgiving conditions can endure more physical discomfort than soft people unaccustomed to conflict. also, some of the islanders, unbeknownst to the fjern, have kraft—magical powers the fjern have attempted to eradicate over the years by exterminating any islander displaying these powers, believing it to be their right alone. the islanders also have a secret weapon in sigourney, the master manipulator/aspiring queen of the conquered who is currently wolfing in the fjern's flock, able to communicate with løren across great distances, using their kraft. and all løren has to do is unite his people and guide them to victory. the big philosophical question re: leadership has always been: is it better to be loved or feared? here, the question is closer to: is it better, as a leader, to be empathetic or realistic? løren is all empathy—he doesn't want to see any more of his people die, he believes life is precious and that people can change, even when allowing certain people to live, like sigourney, leaves himself—and the revolution—open to betrayals. and he is betrayed, proven wrong, by many people, time and time again. we've seen what happens when the wrong person is in charge of things, but løren acts like an ideal leader: taking counsel from his advisors, weighing decisions, trying to minimize casualties, but uniting people who are scattered across a number of islands in a fight to free themselves from the yoke of slavery against an unbeatable enemy is a big task, and the situation may be too complicated to handle with optimism and mercy. under different circumstances, he might be an excellent leader, but against the infighting, the power struggles, the snitches willing to sell out their own people to curry favor with their oppressors, the bloodbaths, and the growing frustration of his advisors who have more strategic military agendas, løren struggles, and no matter how he tries, his people keep dying while those still alive question his suitability for the role. the biggest controversy is his continued trust in sigourney. her relationship with her people—and løren in particular—has been fraught, and his advisors berate him for keeping her alive, for colluding with her, but løren believes people can change their nature despite all evidence to the contrary. insert frog/scorpion story here. then again, sometimes the frog eats the scorpion, so who knows? so, løren's learning that power is hard. and powers are even harder. which leads to another question: what is worse, a leader who abuses their power, or a leader who wastes their power? the former has a much better chance of achieving one's goals, but then you're into the whole question of whether the ends justify the means and you're back to the first book, with sigourney and her admirable ends, questionable means. still, waste your power and you get...this. and now i'm going to shift into broader and seemingly unconnected stuff in order to dance around the thing i can't talk about with yet another question: is it better to respect an author's attempt or love an author's work? callender has said of this duology: Queen of the Conquered and King of the Rising are about the consequences of refusing to learn from mistakes, refusing to grow and change. in that light, these books are a great success—they accomplish exactly what they set out to do, but—i would argue—this success is at the expense of the reader, who is left struggling to understand what their investment of time was all for. i can appreciate the mission statement, but it doesn't help me enjoy the ride. as a reader you have certain basic expectations: a mystery will be solved, a prophecy foretold will come to pass, the titular character will make an appearance in the book, there will be some physical contact in a romance novel, there will be a satisfying conclusion or an equally-satisfying ambiguity at the story's end. and sure, there are outliers—books that subvert expectations and reader-hopes, and those that do it well stand out: tana french's debut mystery In the Woods (view spoiler)[centers on a murder with striking similarities to a decades-old case of great personal significance to the detective. the reader becomes invested in getting answers to both of the mysteries, but their connection turns out to be coincidental, and the old case remains unsolved, leaving readers and characters in a state of half-closure. (hide spoiler)] in veronica roth's Allegiant, (view spoiler)[in a rare-for-YA-megahit-series move, beloved heroine tris dies halfway into this third book, leaving another character to carry the trilogy through to its conclusion. (hide spoiler)] christopher pike's Final Friends Trilogy (view spoiler)[takes three books to get to the bottom of whether a girl killed herself or was murdered, only to conclude that her death was accidental. (hide spoiler)] to me, those are ballsy and laudable divergences from the expected. but unmet expectations can also be deeply unsatisfying. to avoid talking about this book in particular, i will rehash a personal anecdote i used in a very old review: i am really into lateral thinking puzzles—those brain teasers where you're given an endpoint and then you have to come up with yes or no questions to figure out what happened: there's a body hanging from the rafters of a room whose ceiling in twelve feet high. the room is locked from the inside and is completely empty, except for a puddle of water on the ground. what happened? and once you've asked the right questions, it becomes clear that (view spoiler)[it's one of those suicide-by-standing-on-a-block-of-ice scenarios (hide spoiler)] . so, one time i was on a long drive with my college beau, and we were doing these back and forth to pass the time. when i ran out of ones i knew, i decided to make one up, but i did not tell him i was making it up: a man is found in a haystack with a turkey baster wearing a roman centurion helmet. what is the situation? he tried to figure this one out for nearly an hour before giving up and begging me for the answer. i just shrugged and said "i don't know. guess he was just crazy." this is not why we broke up, but i would have understood if he had dumped me on the spot. in the real world, outside the construct of a novel, all four of these outcomes are perfectly reasonable, even likely scenarios—crimes go unsolved, people die, crazy people end up in haystacks and there's no flipping reason, nor do we expect one, but in a novel, you want there to have been a point, a reason you invested your time. i'm fine with reader-imbalance, but some rug-yanks are more jarring than others, and while they very well may reflect a realistic end to a situation, you can be left wondering, "why did i read all of this to get here?" or "why am i dating this horrible, lateral-thinking-puzzle-ruining person?" because as much as the possibility of THE ELEPHANT was brought up not even 100 pages into the book, foreshadowy AF: (view spoiler)["Don't look so concerned for me," Kjerstin says, her voice a whisper. "I never expected to live very long anyway. We are in the middle of a war, after all." I frown at her. "The point is to survive the revolution. Win, and finally live a life of freedom." She laughs at me, though regrets it as she winces. "The people who fight the revolution will never get to enjoy the freedom, Loren," she says. "We're not going to live through this. You know that." "If we're not going to live through this, then what's the point in fighting?" "That's the thing," she says, "There is no point. No point to living, either. So I might as well give my life, trying to do something right." still, it makes all of løren's implied divine purpose utterly moot. It wasn't a surprise, that I hadn't died. It seemed the spirits were never done with me. the ending is, unfortunately, realistic but it undermines the prophecies that were set up; the idea that løren had been chosen, spared by the gods repeatedly. does this make him delusional? a failed leader, a successful martyr? hard truth that sometimes your best isn't good enough, sometimes the signs are coincidences, sometimes you fail, all for nothing, and there's no point. but the takeaway can't just be: shit happens. or can it? if there were a third book planned—where the revolution would continue through another character’s story—that would be one thing; his death would have been a rung on the ladder to freedom or whatever, but instead we’re left, after reading two whole books, with the realistic, depressing conclusion that empathy lets people walk all over you, the oppressed will remain oppressed, resistance is futile. oh, and that there are consequences to refusing to learn from mistakes, refusing to grow and change. (hide spoiler)] pretty bleak lesson after a shitty year. *********************************** well, shit. i am not at all sure how i feel about this. i respect the balls of it, but did i enjoy it? i need to marinate in these post-read thoughts-n-feels for a bit. ************************************* oooOOOoooo a halloween miracle!!! got a little smooshed in the mail, but it's still a beautiful book. i'm excited to conquer my bookstack to get to it! come to my blog!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    tw: slavery; rape; mass suicide; lots of violent death I have never read something so bleak. I honestly don't know how I could recommend this series to someone, now having read the whole thing, as I truly think the reader should be somewhat prepared before going into something like this. I'm going to add this snippet from another review that I saw after I finished this book and ran here to see what others thought: Callender has said of this duology: "Queen of the Conquered and King of the Risin tw: slavery; rape; mass suicide; lots of violent death I have never read something so bleak. I honestly don't know how I could recommend this series to someone, now having read the whole thing, as I truly think the reader should be somewhat prepared before going into something like this. I'm going to add this snippet from another review that I saw after I finished this book and ran here to see what others thought: Callender has said of this duology: "Queen of the Conquered and King of the Rising are about the consequences of refusing to learn from mistakes, refusing to grow and change." in that light, these books are a great success—they accomplish exactly what they set out to do, but—i would argue—this success is at the expense of the reader, who is left struggling to understand what their investment of time was all for. i can appreciate the mission statement, but it doesn't help me enjoy the ride. - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... That is the best summary of the themes of this story, and exactly why I would struggle to recommend this. Is this book realistic for a story set around a slave revolution? Sure. But it being realistic and setting out to do what it aimed to do doesn't mean I will enjoy it. Especially seeing as the writing and the plot craft-wise didn't make up for that fact. At many times, it was clunky. I've tried to be as vague as possible but if you are curious about spoilers and what could have possibly led me to say this, here you go: (view spoiler)[ This is ultimately a story about leaders failing again and again. It shows leaders being power hungry, or in Loren's case, being too "good" for war times. And what's the result? The rebellion fails. All of the characters we follow, die. Many in battle but most of them by mass suicide because they know their oppressors are coming and will kill them anyway. Our main character from the first book ends up betraying all of them, having absolutely zero growth, and uses this as a rise to power for herself to keep oppressing her own people. And our main character of this book also shows very little growth. I guess he does learn by the end but for what because - you guessed it - HE ALSO DIES! The book ends with him being beheaded and the Fjern enslaving any of the islanders who didn't fight and everything returning to as it was. It is so bleak. The only "hope" you as the reader get is that maybe, sometime but not in the lifetime of any of these characters, the islanders will eventually rise up and win. But no one knows how or when. So all of the stuff about Loren being chosen by the island spirits? Apparently that wasn't true. They all fail. And while that is realistic for a story like this, I'm not sure many people would want to invest time in a series knowing that. (hide spoiler)]

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

    Just checking in to see if it's December 2020 yet. No? Cool, cool. I'll go back to my "screaming in agony of this wait" corner. --- DECEMBER??????????? OMG. The wait may kill me. Just checking in to see if it's December 2020 yet. No? Cool, cool. I'll go back to my "screaming in agony of this wait" corner. --- DECEMBER??????????? OMG. The wait may kill me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tomoe Hotaru

    16 Dec. '20 Read my review for Queen of the Conquered Oh, wow. I am just utterly speechless. Not the ending I wanted, but maybe the ending we needed? Certainly it's the ending we deserve. Admittedly I went into this sequel with a faux optimism: for our characters, for their islands, for their revolt. But I should have known--and you should know, too--what to expect, if not from the general tone and conclusion to Queen of the Conquered then at least through the author's very own interviews, whe 16 Dec. '20 Read my review for Queen of the Conquered Oh, wow. I am just utterly speechless. Not the ending I wanted, but maybe the ending we needed? Certainly it's the ending we deserve. Admittedly I went into this sequel with a faux optimism: for our characters, for their islands, for their revolt. But I should have known--and you should know, too--what to expect, if not from the general tone and conclusion to Queen of the Conquered then at least through the author's very own interviews, where they made clear what the point of this duology was; what the author's intentions were when writing these books. (also, do you know how difficult it is to find tasteful fantasy portraits of black men? now take a moment to fawn over this guy's art...) source: El'Cesart King of the Rising unfolded true to the author's intentions, true to the nature of colonisation, rebellions, and people in general. It is realistic, fatalistic, hopeful, all at the same time. It wasn't the Caribbeans, but my country, too, is an archipelago of literally tens of thousands of islands; around 6000 of which are inhabited. It was even bigger before; part of an empire that encompassed a larger part of the region. And then the fire nation attacked. Ha. But in all seriousness. The colonisers came and we, too, saw slavery and occupation that lasted three and a half! centuries. We saw a history of rebellions, uprisings, most small and uncoordinated. Others larger, more organised, and yet still failing. It took a series of timely revolts, victories and losses all throughout the continent. It took political pressure, insertion of key historical figures into the coloniser's social structures--much the same way Sigourney and Kalle did. It took World War II! to hit the coloniser and force them to focus their attentions to home . . . so no, there is no one defining moment of victory. Independence is gained through an amalgamation of forces, external and internal, timing, luck. So having it won through one large, unified battle would have been fantastical, idealistic, but improbable . . . and ultimately, this book served a cold dose of reality to shatter our pipe dreams. It is sad, painful, brutal. But I appreciated it for reflecting the hard journey to independence. King of the Uprising does not make a fairytale of revolutions, and by doing that does not diminish the sacrifices and struggles of our ancestors. It does not cater to the oppressor. Losing occupation in a grand battle makes it a lot more palatable, retroactively. Makes it seem as though justice was served. They came, they conquered, they lost, they left. No. Occupation was a lot deeper than that. It is not so simple as to take up arms and fight back. Even when they're gone, their effects linger for eternity. This book reflects exactly that; from the islands of Hans Lollik to the Northern Empires, we see oppression in its many shapes and colours. source: Yuuza I can't say I liked or even agreed with all the characters. I can't say my respect for Sigourney improved in this sequel. I can't say there weren't times I was frustrated with Loren . . . but none of that matters, since the message extends beyond individual characters. Indeed, it spoke to the nature of people, and at the end of the day, they weren't without consequences. Much like Queen of the Conquered, this book, too, concluded with a twist-and-reveal. This time around it was foreshadowed much more adequately. If you liked the first book, you'd probably enjoy this one, too. Just be prepared for your heart to hurt.

  5. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    The next volume in line is out to wait for! Hopefully, it will be just as readworthy and untrivial as the 1st one. Love the cover, btw.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andi

    I have written, re-wrote, and hung onto writing this review. First of all, this book has not yet been released. Second of all, it's a very, very, very tough call on what I can rate this book. I am torn on the various view points that I felt as a reader and how I felt once the book ended and the duology was complete. In the end, I settled on a 5 star rating because I was being selfish and not thinking what was best for the book but which was best for me. This series is NOT like your other fantasy I have written, re-wrote, and hung onto writing this review. First of all, this book has not yet been released. Second of all, it's a very, very, very tough call on what I can rate this book. I am torn on the various view points that I felt as a reader and how I felt once the book ended and the duology was complete. In the end, I settled on a 5 star rating because I was being selfish and not thinking what was best for the book but which was best for me. This series is NOT like your other fantasy series. This series is graphic, brutal, sweeping, pointed, emotional, and a reflection of racism. In book one, we followed Sigourney Rose/Jannik and her quest to become queen/ruler of the various isles. We saw what became of her - imprisoned. We now see the continuation of the story through her captor and her once - enslaved bodyguard, Loren. We are focusing on a time frame that begins two months after the fall of the island. How has the uprising gone? What is to happen? Will they find support? Sigourney and Loren are not your normal protagonists, nor are they lovers. Both are flawed individuals, and in Kacen's world, they both make faults that hurt them. Sigourney is too prideful, too dependent on gaining appreciation and respect for her people but go about it in the wrong ways. Loren is too empathetic, and he looses a lot of his support based on that fact that he lets his heart outweigh his choices. Both are not wrong, nor are both of them right. I honestly say that when finished with the book the outcome was not one that I would have seen for these characters. I saw outcomes, but not ness. the outcome that happened to be. It is going to be one that is going to be discussed for quite some time and one that will have some strong opinions - both negative and positive. I think the author chose the ending that they did because their characters had their own agendas, their own personalities and their own fates. The fact that they did not fall into the normal trappings of fantasy tales that feature a male and female protagonist is unique and for that it stands out quite vividly in my mind. What is this ending? You will not find out from me in this review. I feel the ending has to be read and mediated on since again, it's going to be opinionated. (Maybe if you're lucky I'll tell you in a private message if asked nicely.) I think Kacen is an amazing writer and that they have written a book that is perhaps one of the strongest fantasy books to debut in a while. It has been a LONG, LONG time since I have read a fantasy tale that has subverted my mind and left me speechless. How long it has been since I have read a story that has not been what I wanted or thought would happen but is right for the book? A while. A while. I really hope they keep giving us more of them.

  7. 5 out of 5

    maritareads

    3.5 Thank you Orbit books and Caffeine Tours for providing me with an ARC. This was much easier to read once I got over the visceral shock I had from the first book. It is once again a brutal read with characters that are perhaps too cruel (or naturally cruel, given the nightmares they endured) or too merciful and idealistic to lead a revolution, both of which make several fatal mistakes on the path to find freedom. Or perhaps the take away is the futility of matyrs for revolutions. This should be 3.5 Thank you Orbit books and Caffeine Tours for providing me with an ARC. This was much easier to read once I got over the visceral shock I had from the first book. It is once again a brutal read with characters that are perhaps too cruel (or naturally cruel, given the nightmares they endured) or too merciful and idealistic to lead a revolution, both of which make several fatal mistakes on the path to find freedom. Or perhaps the take away is the futility of matyrs for revolutions. This should be read in companion with The Wretched of The Earth (which I haven't read yet but now will after seeing twitter posts which puts this book in context): “in colonial countries only the peasantry is revolutionary. It has nothing to lose and everything to gain. The underprivileged and starving peasant is the exploited who very soon discovers that only violence pays. For him there is no compromise, no possibility of concession.” “In its raw state this nonviolence conveys to the colonized intellectual and business elite that their interests are identical to those of the colonialist bourgeoisie and it is therefore indispensable, a matter of urgency, to reach an agreement for the common good.” In this tale Callendar posits these two groups against each other and we see how their actions unfold in a revolution, the latter group becoming "surrogate oppressors" as established by the main oppressors, to paraphrase what Fanon said. The former group not being romanticised as is usually the case with fictional stories involving revolutions, being ready to die for a revolution, only accepting freedom when everybody is free. This is also not to say that the revolutionaries are pure. Curtains are pulled back on many characters and we see how war changes them, or rather how their true character is finally revealed, the deep effects of slavery and colonization on the mental psyche. The writing style and world building is more of the same from the first and as a mystery I would have preferred a multiple POV that showed a cleverly woven plan rather than a rushed soliloquy at the end where all is revealed. However, this is a good book to be entered in a critical race theory reading list.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    *4.5 Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! The Islands of Blood and Storm duology has been an incredibly intense and unpredictable journey, and I am so glad I got to read it. I have had a hard time figuring out just how to rate this book, because on some levels it's an easy five stars, but then there are parts that weren't necessarily amazing. In the end, though, the plot, arc, and ending of the entire duology was just too effective and perfectly executed to not go for a high rating. The *4.5 Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! The Islands of Blood and Storm duology has been an incredibly intense and unpredictable journey, and I am so glad I got to read it. I have had a hard time figuring out just how to rate this book, because on some levels it's an easy five stars, but then there are parts that weren't necessarily amazing. In the end, though, the plot, arc, and ending of the entire duology was just too effective and perfectly executed to not go for a high rating. The Islands of Blood and Storm has been a really stand out fantasy series for a myriad of reasons. The magic itself takes the form of 'kraft' that some characters are gifted (or cursed, in some regards) with when they are born. The Jannik, or the white colonizer, are allowed to live with the kraft, but the islanders who are the slaves are often immediately killed upon discovery of their kraft. The slaves are, as might be expected, treated in a subhuman fashion, and revolution has been brewing slowly for years. There's not a lot of hope in this book, but in the moments where that hope is present, it really hits hard. The first book followed the POV of Sigourney Rose, and this time we follow the POV of Loren, her previous bodyguard/slave who is now becoming leader of the rebellion/revolution. Loren is really a fascinating POV to follow, partially because of his need to constantly tell the truth and inability to lie to anyone. There's no coercion in this, it is simply that because of everything he has experienced, he refuses to lie to anyone, which in turn leads to some particularly interesting scenarios. He is very flawed and often lets his heart get in the way of making decisions that would help his cause and instead leads to fairly negative consequences more often than not. He gains support early on, but struggles to keep that support and encouragement from those who have chosen him, which acts as a major conflict and issue in the plot. This duology is a strong mix of slow burn and high action, with long build ups to major plot points with a lot of focus on themes and characters. I was, admittedly, rather surprised by the ending. I expected something similar to it to maybe happen, but I was surprised by the direction Callender chose for the overall ending. It's a hard ending, but it fits for an equally hard book that is frequently brutal and unrelenting in the dark and cruel topics that it handles. There is a lot of cruelty throughout this story, and the depictions of racism are raw and demand attention. I think one of the my favorite things about the ending--and really, this duology in general--is the way that it demands discussions, focuses on reflections of racism, and really makes you evaluation what constitutes power, privilege, and what it means to both wield those and what it means when there are varying layers to power. Overall, I've given King of the Rising 4.5 stars! For all intents and purposes, this is a five star read. The small knock in the rating is simply because I felt that a lot of the plot and general activity of this book was a bit stagnant in times and I felt like there was simply a lot of rowing back and forth between islands. I didn't really mind this, but at the same time it just felt a bit repetitive at times. If you're interested in reading a fantasy that looks at some real, relevant, and difficult topics while also telling a truly phenomenal story that is unpredictable and unmerciful, then I very much encourage you to pick up Queen of the Conquered and King of the Rising!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julia971

    What a ride ! To read this book in this day and age is unsettling. Just as the cover implies, the voice in this second book is different: Sigourney isn't the narrator anymore, she has been replaced with Loren, her mysterious guard. The revolution is in every mouth and every heart. We get to read, feel and explore what it means to challenge power and the status quo, for both oppressed and oppressors. What a ride ! To read this book in this day and age is unsettling. Just as the cover implies, the voice in this second book is different: Sigourney isn't the narrator anymore, she has been replaced with Loren, her mysterious guard. The revolution is in every mouth and every heart. We get to read, feel and explore what it means to challenge power and the status quo, for both oppressed and oppressors.

  10. 5 out of 5

    vitellan

    More of the first book but in some ways, the ending feels lazy. I had similar issues with the writing as with book 1, in that there's a lot of telling-without-showing. The pacing improved and Loren is a much more active participant as a POV character than Sigourney had been, but weirdly, characters grow even less. This is primarily a thought experiment in a fantasy/alternate world with the right conditions to allow for discussions of colonialism and systems that are inequitable by design. But be More of the first book but in some ways, the ending feels lazy. I had similar issues with the writing as with book 1, in that there's a lot of telling-without-showing. The pacing improved and Loren is a much more active participant as a POV character than Sigourney had been, but weirdly, characters grow even less. This is primarily a thought experiment in a fantasy/alternate world with the right conditions to allow for discussions of colonialism and systems that are inequitable by design. But because there are so many thoughts and threads to pull out of this discussion, they end up taking center stage, with different characters becoming mouthpieces (or thought pieces) for different perspectives. It would be a tough challenge to balance a compelling narrative with fleshed-out characters and an acknowledgement of all these threads. That doesn't really happen here, which is a shame, but I loved that the author tried to do it and did articulate so many ways those perspectives would play out. I'd add that while the world of these books is quite cynical about human character, it also makes humans far more consistent in personality and choice than they are. We can be both surprisingly horrible and surprisingly better than our worst natures at times. Beliefs are not personalities. Few people are so ideologically pure that their core values, thoughts, and actions can be traced in an unbroken line. It was frustrating that Sigourney and Loren, for all their mind-reading and empathetic ability, are the only ones permitted internal moral conflict (and only when they're the viewpoint characters in their respective books). There's some notion of Marieke caring for Sigourney (y/n) and yes, the resentment and desire for power/approval from the oppressor in conflict, but I think there's much more inner conflict than even that single dimension that fails to come across. As a reader, I felt like I received an abstract of each character's background but never got to watch the actual series. Maybe just too much stuff was being juggled in only two books. I could have done with less explaining of people's thoughts all the time, and more doing. Unfortunately, the gimmick that lets the author keep the reader updated on everything that's happening also destroys a potential source of narrative suspense. And in making everyone's thoughts visible, the story itself becomes predestination. Little wonder that the characterization feels thin - characters are never allowed to have agency, even for a chapter. Still appreciated this duology and would look forward to the next one this author writes.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Arina

    Couldn't put down this book and now I can't get it out of my head. One of the strongest duologies I've read. Fans of deeply-thoughtful social examinations and suspense will hold onto this one like a lifeline, and that ending will plunge into you. There’s just so much to love about this book and the entire duology; the magic in both it’s fantasy elements and the way it discusses tackles the present, the well-written narrative, the humanly flawed characters, the glorious way the political machinat Couldn't put down this book and now I can't get it out of my head. One of the strongest duologies I've read. Fans of deeply-thoughtful social examinations and suspense will hold onto this one like a lifeline, and that ending will plunge into you. There’s just so much to love about this book and the entire duology; the magic in both it’s fantasy elements and the way it discusses tackles the present, the well-written narrative, the humanly flawed characters, the glorious way the political machinations upended in the first book to expand in this one, the unexpected conclusions that make you excited about finishing a series while dreading the day it all ends. Merciless, outstanding, and masterful writing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Okay, I finally finished this book. I wanted to like this series so much more than I actually did. I feel pretty much the same about this book as I do about Queen of the Conquered, but this book’s storyline was less compelling. Or, I guess, the flaws of the book were more apparent and detracted from the reading experience to the point where I couldn’t overlook them and enjoy the story. First off: this plot is GOOD. It’s brutal, and the ending is bleak, but I appreciate the message that Callender Okay, I finally finished this book. I wanted to like this series so much more than I actually did. I feel pretty much the same about this book as I do about Queen of the Conquered, but this book’s storyline was less compelling. Or, I guess, the flaws of the book were more apparent and detracted from the reading experience to the point where I couldn’t overlook them and enjoy the story. First off: this plot is GOOD. It’s brutal, and the ending is bleak, but I appreciate the message that Callender is sending with such an “unpopular” conclusion. I have never read a fantasy novel like this. Sigourney is such an interesting character, and I may have enjoyed the first book more because it was from her POV. However, the writing is what got me. There is so much tell-not-show text, and SO much of it is repetitive to the point where I was skimming some paragraphs. Some characters died, but they weren’t even an integral part of the narrative. They were just mentioned as being integral, not mentioned again, and then brought back only to die. I feel like a lot could have been edited out, and the descriptions could have been better. I was not able to sink into this story in the way I thought I would. Overall, this duology has an interesting premise and a lot of potential, but just didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Thank you to Orbit Books and Caffeine Book Tours for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    2TReads

    🌊Reflections 🌊 Let me start by saying that there are things to love and enjoy about this book. The fact that Callender was able to centre islanders and their struggle for freedom and begin with a narrative that has not been done before (correct me if I'm wrong) with Sigourney's storyline is an achievement. 🌺 With this second instalment I loved the incorporation of keeping ancestral practices alive, of looking to both the young and old for strength in facing adversities, and of course never giving u 🌊Reflections 🌊 Let me start by saying that there are things to love and enjoy about this book. The fact that Callender was able to centre islanders and their struggle for freedom and begin with a narrative that has not been done before (correct me if I'm wrong) with Sigourney's storyline is an achievement. 🌺 With this second instalment I loved the incorporation of keeping ancestral practices alive, of looking to both the young and old for strength in facing adversities, and of course never giving up. We see the indoctrination that serves as a block to achieving true freedom; the shifting waves upon which power bobs and weaves affecting allegiances; the sly obfuscation of a shadowy figure that looms over the main storyline were all instances that had the reader asking questions and relating to a shared history. 🌷 However what was supposed to have been the linchpin in this arc was severely underutilized and was at the heart of my frustrations with this novel and hampered what could have been a marvelously executed follow-up. The incessant overthinking of extending mercy to those who may or not deserve it and the missed opportunity to delve further into the use and development of kraft also impacted the story for me. This book seemed to suffer from a host of editing mishaps and that I believe is the true tragedy here. 🌼 But do read this book so we can get a conversation started. 🏵

  14. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    A heavy read. Like the first one, CW for lots of violence, slavery, racism, and similar. Callender is walking a tightrope of hope and realism in this that is just heartbreaking and reminiscent of so much historical colonial violence, and the uprisings that sought to throw it off. I’m glad I read it, but oof. Don’t read if you’re looking for a happy diversion, by any means.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Malex

    Wow, this took a hell of an unexpected turn. It fits really well with what Kacen Callender aimed to do with this duology I think but it will NOT be to everyone taste.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tee

    4 stars Disclaimer: I read an advanced copy of this book as part of the #KingOfTheRising blog tour with Caffeine Book Tours. This in no way impacts my review, or my opinions on the book. Content Warnings: racisim, slavery, death, torture, violence, rape/sexual assault King of the Rising begins shortly after Queen of the Conquered ends; however we are seeing the events through a new set of eyes: those of Løren. The story follows the rebel efforts of liberation from the oppressive Fjern presence of H 4 stars Disclaimer: I read an advanced copy of this book as part of the #KingOfTheRising blog tour with Caffeine Book Tours. This in no way impacts my review, or my opinions on the book. Content Warnings: racisim, slavery, death, torture, violence, rape/sexual assault King of the Rising begins shortly after Queen of the Conquered ends; however we are seeing the events through a new set of eyes: those of Løren. The story follows the rebel efforts of liberation from the oppressive Fjern presence of Hans Lollik after the islanders’ successful overthrowing of Hans Lollik Helle. The story unfolds at a leisurely pace as we follow attempts to grow forces and gain the upper hand, all while struggling with limited resources, and finding trustworthy proponents. This series is a stellar commentary on slavery, its effects, and the fight for liberation. While the first book in the series dealt with Sigourney trying to rise up in the hierarchal ranks of the Kongelig while being viewed as lesser by the Fjern she held all the same rights as, and as a traitor by the other islanders, this book deals more with the plight of the islanders. Løren is an islander, though he too has Fjern blood and has suffered with being cast out by both the other islanders and his Fjern family, he has the lived experience of being an islander and slave unlike Sigourney. We see him struggle to make decisions that will allow his people their freedom without falling prey to the same tactics the Fjern employ – a similar issue Sigourney faced in Queen of the Conquered. Both stories focus on the different ways in which two people have fought for their freedom and rights, one through power, and the other through empathy and community. I think my favourite aspect of King of the Rising is the characterisation. We get to meet and know more characters, spending more time with them and learning more about their history, and as a result being allowed a peek into the history of the different islands of Hans Lollik. This is mostly due to Løren being a more engaged and empathetic character than Sigourney. These two characters are foils of each other, and we are granted a comparison between the actions Sigourney took and the ones Løren takes with regards to leadership, power, and beliefs. Along with excellent characterisation, the worldbuilding is expanded upon in this book. While we had a glimpse of some worldbuilding through Sigourney’s callbacks in book 1, there are some exciting and daunting travel scenes in book 2 that allow us a deeper insight into how the rest of this world allows the slavery and mistreatment of the islanders of Hans Lollik to thrive. Callender masterfully weaves suspense and mystery into both instalments of this series - with Sigourney’s nightmares in Queen of the Conquered, and in a different yet just as unnerving way in King of the Rising. There are moments where you can feel the unease, but you aren’t sure if it’s a true fear to be held or the workings of Kraft and illusions. I really enjoyed these small moments in the story, they kept me on my toes while the story dives deeper into the bigger plot. Queen of the Conquered felt like a closed door (closed island?) mystery, but in King of the Rising the threats and mysteries are far-reaching. I truly enjoyed this instalment – it held a lot of the most enjoyable aspects of the first book, while also upping the ante and being a more intense and engaging read. The Islands of Blood and Storm series by Kacen Callender tells a story of survival, fear, war, and oppression. It is a stunning tale of the lengths one will go to for power, and freedom, the ways in which oppression can forever alter the makeup of a society, complicit behaviour, and deftly handles the idea that there is no easy and gentle way to hold a revolution.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

    Maybe the bleak ending would've been fine pre-coup but post coup it's just a big ole dislike Maybe the bleak ending would've been fine pre-coup but post coup it's just a big ole dislike

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fabienne Schwizer

    While Queen of the Conquered was Sigourney’s story, King of the Rising is all Loren’s. There is a total shift in voice and perspective between the two, not fully making it books able to stand on their own, but making them distinct stories. And while Sigourney is still present for large parts of the book, she is not the one telling the story, which I think makes the book all the much stronger for it. I find her an incredibly interesting character, but I noticed that I prefer her particular brand While Queen of the Conquered was Sigourney’s story, King of the Rising is all Loren’s. There is a total shift in voice and perspective between the two, not fully making it books able to stand on their own, but making them distinct stories. And while Sigourney is still present for large parts of the book, she is not the one telling the story, which I think makes the book all the much stronger for it. I find her an incredibly interesting character, but I noticed that I prefer her particular brand of protagonist to be relegated to a side character as she starts grating on me over time. She is incredibly self-righteous and lacks a moral struggle aspect that is very present with Loren, and I think that is a large part of why I preferred having him at the centre of the narrative. I liked Queen of the Conquered, but I felt like I enjoyed King of the Rising more. The tension is constantly kept high and there are no boring passages in the book. There is always something interesting happening, some kind of intrigue, some mystery among the islanders or the Fjern. These books are so well-written and unique, and I feel like they truly do the morally grey protagonist trope justice. I am constantly in awe of how good of an author Kacen Callender is – and I was very close to giving King of the Rising a rare five-star rating. Ultimately, I personally disliked the ending, but I also found it satisfying in some ways, and I’m not sure how it could have gone in different ways. This duology – the ending of King of the Rising seems final and as far as I’m aware no further books have been announced – is not an easy read, as it deals with a lot of heavy subjects such as slavery, abuse and violence, but ultimately, despite addressing many bleak topics is a gripping and thought-inducing book, rather than one that makes readers shy away. However, do have a look at the content warnings above to see whether this is a book that is suitable for you.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Leak

    I really wanted to like this series. I read the second book with the hope that it would get better. The first book ended with a great twist! This story is told from the viewpoint of Loren, and much like the first novel we are told what’s happening instead of shown. Barely any dialogue. Every side character is given a background that has no impact on the story much like the first book. But the ending?! It makes me look over everything and say what was the reason I read this? There was no point. T I really wanted to like this series. I read the second book with the hope that it would get better. The first book ended with a great twist! This story is told from the viewpoint of Loren, and much like the first novel we are told what’s happening instead of shown. Barely any dialogue. Every side character is given a background that has no impact on the story much like the first book. But the ending?! It makes me look over everything and say what was the reason I read this? There was no point. This doesn’t seem like fantasy because the magic ends up not really being essential and could have easily been left out.

  20. 4 out of 5

    John Folk-Williams

    Freedom from slavery has a cost, not just in human lives but in the internal torture of mind and morality brought on by lifetimes spent in forced repudiation of one’s language, culture, religion and self-esteem. For an ex-slave to have a position of privilege in the midst of this history of oppression is all the more problematic. This is the reality permeating the powerful, riveting and brave novel King of the Rising, the second part of Kacen Callender’s brilliant Islands of Blood and Storm duol Freedom from slavery has a cost, not just in human lives but in the internal torture of mind and morality brought on by lifetimes spent in forced repudiation of one’s language, culture, religion and self-esteem. For an ex-slave to have a position of privilege in the midst of this history of oppression is all the more problematic. This is the reality permeating the powerful, riveting and brave novel King of the Rising, the second part of Kacen Callender’s brilliant Islands of Blood and Storm duology. Like its predecessor, Queen of the Conquered, this Caribbean-inspired fantasy is told from a single point of view. In the first book it was that of Sigourney Rose, a mixed blood daughter of a well to do islander family who had managed to make herself a candidate to lead the Fjern dominated islands. The Fjern are a white skinned people who enslaved the native dark skinned inhabitants, taking from them everything, language, culture, even their name, referring to them only as slaves or islanders. In King of the Rising we are inside the mind of Løren, the bastard son of a Fjern lord and an islander mother. This world becomes real to us primarily through his thoughts rather than through external description. That is because the two most important elements of his island world relate to internal struggles. Read more at SciFi Mind

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leah Rachel von Essen

    King of the Rising is the sequel to Kacen Callender’s Queen of the Conquered, a vivid, brutal high fantasy set in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world. In this sequel, the slave revolution for their freedom has risen, and led by Løren Jannik, the strong, honest man who has the ability to take the Krafts of others and use them for himself. Like the first in the series, King of the Rising is a slow, political build set in a complex world of colonialism and violence. I felt that the ending to one of t King of the Rising is the sequel to Kacen Callender’s Queen of the Conquered, a vivid, brutal high fantasy set in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world. In this sequel, the slave revolution for their freedom has risen, and led by Løren Jannik, the strong, honest man who has the ability to take the Krafts of others and use them for himself. Like the first in the series, King of the Rising is a slow, political build set in a complex world of colonialism and violence. I felt that the ending to one of the most intriguing storylines was a bit too rushed, though well done otherwise; and like in the first book, there’s a tendency to repetitive language. All that said, this series was excellent, and I sincerely enjoyed both books. Callender’s writing is superb, and the struggles of the characters feel very realistic; the fight, the revolution, is written in a way that feels both cruel and true. I received a free copy of this book from Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review. King of the Rising will be out December 1.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Corey (grimdark_dad)

    The ISLANDS OF BLOOD AND STORM duology is just fucking brilliant. A brutal & gorgeous Caribbean-inspired fantasy, with fascinating characters and terrifying magic. These books aren’t easy reads…there were moments I felt almost nauseous from the stress and tension in this story. And just from the sheer brutality of this world. But this duology is an absolutely stunning achievement in fantasy, full stop. I am truly awed by Kacen Callender’s writing, and I’m anxious to read more of their work! Full The ISLANDS OF BLOOD AND STORM duology is just fucking brilliant. A brutal & gorgeous Caribbean-inspired fantasy, with fascinating characters and terrifying magic. These books aren’t easy reads…there were moments I felt almost nauseous from the stress and tension in this story. And just from the sheer brutality of this world. But this duology is an absolutely stunning achievement in fantasy, full stop. I am truly awed by Kacen Callender’s writing, and I’m anxious to read more of their work! Full review: https://grimdarkdad.wordpress.com/202...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Soap

    Once again got turned around and confused quite a bit because of the different names and islands and trying to figure out who belonged where. I also feel like this book progressed really fast, and if you missed a part, you were kind of thrown off (this is how I felt about Sigourney, I had no idea how she escaped because I was probably reading too fast or not paying enough attention). Overall though, I liked the story and I liked the various twists it provided.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Miranda N. Benson

    This series isn’t about happy endings, it’s about brutally honest ones. The writing is beautiful, the characters are well-rounded, the world is rich. But these books are sad and dark and violent—exactly what they should be considering the premise.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Spell

    Like 2.5 based on the absolutely bleak (and maybe a bit last few chapters). Like the first book, I was into it for the mystery (which when revealed...meh) and I hated the characters. This protagonist is the opposite in that he is too good (like superman--good with lots of powers and boring).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maddy Newquist

    lots of thoughts that I haven't fully peeled apart. the cruel & realistic satisfaction of the political game came at the expense of magical world-building threads left untied. lots of thoughts that I haven't fully peeled apart. the cruel & realistic satisfaction of the political game came at the expense of magical world-building threads left untied.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Francis

    Fantastic. Complex and thoughtful.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julia Welsh

    Real world predictable, and thus fantasy world slightly disappointing. Philosophical and enraging, and so well written it leaves a bitter taste for hours afterward.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Samarah Sealey

    I cant believe how good this book is. O feel its better than book 1. I nearly cried at the ending. So shocked.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tahsin

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