Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Book Review of the End of All Things by Jill Williamson

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With the Five Realms on the brink of total destruction, everyone faces a final mad scramble to find a safe haven. The realm is divided on what should be done. Wilek and Trevn join those who are preparing the realm for a seaward evacuation, but the king stands in their way. Wilek must battle against his own father to try and save the people of Armania.

Series: The Kinsman Chronicles (Book 1, Part 3)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (April 5, 2016)
Page Count: 160 pages

Jill brought me onto her launch team for this series months ago and I'm happy to be able to review it for her. Being a Blood of Kings fan, I was pumped to be able to advance read this series and now I've finally read the last part of the first book! It's definitely a climax to remember.

The Plot: Since this is the climax part of this book, everything is coming to a head: conspiracies, scandals, character arcs, and even the world crumbling to its end. There's lots of twists and magic and even some very interesting apocalyptic elements. It's a very fun story to read. Like the other parts of this book, this series is far darker than the others. Jill explores the underbelly of fantasy based on real Biblical practices such as prostitution, human sacrifice, and pagan worship. She handles these sticky topics with care.

The Characters: King's Folly has a lot of main characters. This book goes into Trevn's, Wilek's, Charlon's, Hinck's, Inola's, Mielle's, and Grayson's POVs. Several of these are side characters, but it's interesting seeing how Jill portrays all of their voices. This had to have been a challenge for her.

Wilek is my favorite. I love his journey throughout this book. His bravery and honor throughout out his admirable to see.

Trevn grows up a lot in this part of the book as he mends relationships and stands up to evil despite the consequences.

Hinck's loyalty to Trevn is inspiring. He goes through so many lengths to unravel the conspiracy going in on Armania.

Charlon is an interesting villainess. She believes she's doing the right thing in her eyes and she's obviously being used. Her point of view is choppy and sporadic which creates an interesting tone.

Mielle is a darling. She always cares about others and her and Trevn are the cutest. I ship it!

There are so many other characters in this book, but I'm not going to overwhelm you with them all. If anything this book has, it's a lot of characters.
The Setting: This book is set in a dying ancient world full of sin and darkness. It reminds me of times before Noah's flood. The world has very old medieval elements and is set in a desert climate. There's many different kingdoms with conflicting cultures. I love how in depth Jill Williamson went into them all. It's definitely a very cool world. On top of that, because of the over-harvesting of resources the land is beginning to fall apart. Earthquakes and sinkholes abound.
Epic Things: The magic in this story is very creative and has voodoo elements. Mantics harness the powers of shadir aka demons through evenroot (a drug). It's a really sinister magic, but creative. Some of the spells include the mask spell which is basically taking the form of another, but the original form must remain alive and close to the one wearing the mask or it will dispel. Each mantic uses their abilities in different ways.

The Theme: The theme definitely centers around the consequences of sin, especially greed. Greed for evenroot has rendered the land unstable. Greed for power has upsetting the balance of politics and has hurt others through magic.

Content Cautions: Like I mentioned before this world is a dark one and full of sin. There is an implied sex scene, a child marriage, pagan worship, human sacrifice, and animal sacrifice similar to that of ancient Biblical times. There is also some violence. Characters are stabbed and hit by falling rocks. One character is branded and another gets his arm severed.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) Genre Mash-Up Did Work - Like Joss Whedon combined Westerns and Sci-Fi in Firefly, I believe Jill Williamson combined Fantasy and Apocalyptic in King's Folly. The book has the characteristic elements of fantasy: magic, a whole new world, and kings. But the world is also dying. The characters are even forced to flee from this descending country to find new lands. It's an interesting combination of the two genres and makes for a great story.

How this can be applied to writing: Can you try combining two genres to create a good story? I talk about this a bit more in my post about what Firefly can teach us about writing.

2.) Using the Environment as An Antagonist Did Work - Though there are many humanoid villains in King's Folly, Jill also uses the environment as an antagonist. Between earthquakes, sink holes, poisonous lakes, volcanoes, and underground rivers, the environment of Armania, Rurekau, Magonia, and the other countries is quite treacherous. These pose deadly obstacles for the characters of the story and certainly add tension. Many of them also played essential parts in the plot as the frequency of these natural disasters has rendered the land too dangerous to live on.

How this can be applied to writing: Can you use natural disasters to create tension and make obstacles for the characters of your stories? It could be snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, sinking sand, avalanches, landslides, or any number of natural occurrences. They could enhance your story in many ways.

3.) Having a Large Cast Had It's Ups and Downs - King's Folly has an extremely large cast like Game of Thrones large, if not larger (I'm not a GoT fan myself). There are so many characters, I can't even remember all of their names, many only played short roles, but I also caught myself mixing up the names of even more important ones. There are emperors, mantics, kings, princesses, onesents, bodyguards, eunichs, and it got a bit overwhelming to keep up with them all. 
Jill went into the personalities of many of the more prominent characters, but others quickly became lost or didn't have enough development, because of the sheer number she had to deal with. She did well with the voices of the character she had, but I couldn't help but feel the cast was a bit too large.

How this can be applied to writing: The more characters you have, the more difficult writing their story can be. It can be difficult keeping up with names and making sure each character stands out and that their voices are unique. Take caution when coming up with your number of character. See which ones can be combined. Look at ways to make them stand out from the others.

Conclusion: The End of All Things is a great conclusion to the King's Folly. It's exciting and goes places I haven't seen other Christian fantasy books go. She tackles many issues other authors haven't been brave enough to in this memorable book. Four stars!

About the Author:

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several young adult books including the Blood of Kings trilogy, Replication, the Mission League series, and the Safe Lands trilogy. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two children and a whole lot of deer. Visit her online at her blog, where adventure comes to life.
You can find her on her website, FacebookTwitterPinterest and Goodreads.

Check out my interview with Jill! And don't forget to check out the first and second part of this book and the series' website!

Check out some of my reviews of her other books!
The Blood of Kings: From Darkness Won
Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into A Published Novel
The Safe Lands: Captives
The Safe Lands: Outcasts
The Safe Lands: Rebels 
The Mission League: The New Recruit

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