#SPFBO Forsaken Kingdom (The Last Prince #1) by J.R. Rasmussen

forsakenkForsaken Kingdom was another of my SPFBO books that I enjoyed enough initially to roll forward and read completely.  This is a fantasy adventure that is engaging and easy to read.  It has a YA feel to it although that’s just my perception – it doesn’t have the grim and brutal quality that many books in the realms of fantasy seem to have these days and I think it would make a good read for somebody just beginning to explore the genre.

The story sets off with an introduction to three friends training in magic.  One of the young people, Wardin Rath is a Prince, Wardin’s father has been fighting a war and when news reaches the magistery of his father’s death Wardin takes drastic action to prevent the Magistery from being discovered – he hands himself over to the new king – Bramwell.  At this point things take a rather unexpected turn, the new king, rather than kill the Prince, leaving no heirs with a claim to the throne, instead has him put under a spell so that he forgets who he is.  For seven years Wardin lives as a tutor at the court of his enemy until one day the spell begins to unravel and little snatches of his memory return.  Realising he’s in danger Wardin once again goes on the run and without really planning to do so finds himself subconsciously heading in the direction of his former magical school.

What I really liked about Forsaken Kingdom is that it’s written in a very accessible style, it isn’t overloaded with minutiae and the main character is easy to get along with.  On top of that it has an interesting system of magic where the users have to balance their magical acts out either by performing physical or mental work – or face the consequences.  I liked the friendships that eventually develop between Wardin and his two childhood friends Arun and Erietta and between the three of them I thought their magic (which was different for each of them) made for entertaining reading.

This is basically a quest style story of a rightful heir returning to claim what is his.  I think it shows a lot of promise in a number of ways.  For example, when the friends eventually reunite there is a good deal of mistrust and this is something that has to be regained gradually.  Wardin was realistically portrayed – he may be the rightful heir, and many people may flock to his banner, but for the last seven years he’s only known life as a quiet and humble tutor and I was pleased that he didn’t have a miraculous overnight transformation into an eloquent and driven Prince who can rally the masses with ease and a bit of sabre rattling.

The world building felt a bit thin to be honest but I wouldn’t say that it detracted from the novel.  I imagined the place as a medieval world, swords and sorcery, castles, magical hounds. etc.  There is talk of enchanted objects and also mention of an enchanted sword – which I suspect will crop up at some point in the series.

In terms of criticisms.  I didn’t have anything that really hindered the read for me but there were a couple of small issues that stuck with me.  Wardin’s original reasoning for running away for example.  I understood that he wanted to protect the Magistery, I also understand that he was a young boy trying to do the right thing, but placing yourself in the hands of your enemy always feels like a strange step – surely if somebody used magic, or torture – your secrets would come spilling out and your sacrifice would be in vain.  In that respect I don’t really understand Bramwell keeping alive the last remaining heir – particularly after his previous actions which were neither just or merciful.

All that being said though, I enjoyed Forsaken Kingdom.  It’s not reinventing the wheel or trying to be overly ambitious in terms of avoiding tropes but it was easy to read, fun and had an ending that was entertaining and promising in terms of future books in the series.

I would rate this as 7 out of 10.

My thanks to the author for providing a copy.

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