King of the Rising – Kacen Callender

Today I’m thrilled to be part of the Caffeine Tours book tour for King of the Rising by Kacen Callender (yes, I am shamefully late because I am a mess of a person who is incapable of noting dates down correctly). This is the sequel to World Fantasy Award winner Queen of the Conquered, and picks up right where the first book left off. As such, this review will contain mild spoilers for the first book.

For the full schedule and a US giveaway, check out the launch post on Caffeine Tour’s website. I received an eARC from the publisher and Caffeine Tours as part of my participation in this tour, but as usual all opinions are my own.

Trigger/Content warnings:

  • Racism
  • Slavery
  • Death
  • Torture
  • Violence
  • Rape/sexual assault

STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶


SUMMARY: 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. (from Orbit)

OPINIONS: 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.

I highly recommend you add King of the Rising to your Goodreads here, or order it via Bookshop here. (affiliate link)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kacen Callender was born two days after a hurricane and was first brought home to a house without its roof. After spending their first eighteen years on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, Kacen studied Japanese, Fine Arts, and Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received their MFA from the New School. Kacen is the author of the middle grade novel Hurricane Child and the young adult novel This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story.



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