King Mai (The Lost and Founds #2)

KingMai-198x300Title: (The Lost and Founds #2)
Author: Edmond Manning
Cover artist:
Publisher: Pickwick Ink Publications
Amazon: Buy Link (The Lost and Founds #2)
Genre: fantasy gay fiction
Length: 322 pages
Rating: 3.75 out of  5

A guest review by Sirius.

Summary: Vin kings the “King of Curiosity”

Blurb:

Adopted from Thailand and never one to fit in with the local bubbas, life has been rough around the edges for Mai Kearns, even before he came out of the closet. Now, almost ten years past the torture of high school, Mai still can’t catch a break: he and his parents stand to lose their beloved farm.

How will a “King Weekend” help change Mai’s fate? What has narrator Vin Vanbly been up to for the four weeks he’s been sneaking around Mai’s hometown? At the urging of a ransom note from ‘The Lost Kings,’ Mai embarks on an impossible treasure hunt chasing mystic poetry, Fibonacci Hopscotch, ancient prophecy, the letter ‘x,’ and a confounding, penguin-marching army.

The stakes are high: if Mai fails, the Lost Kings will permanently claim him as their own. Finding the treasure may unlock the secret to saving his family farm. But can this angry farmer risk opening his broken heart before the weekend is over? Mai Kearns has 40 hours to get very, very curious in this second installment of The Lost and Founds.

Review

I reviewed the first book in this series King Perry here. As you can see I did not like the main character Vin Vanbly much, but found the book to be unusual and thought provoking. I was also dying to know who Vin really was. This book gave us some clues, but bigger questions all remain, which is understandable considering that the author apparently is planning six books series and it is way to early to answer all the mysteries in the book 2.

This book is about Vin “kinging” potential King of Curiosity Mai Kearns and instead of going forward in time, this book goes several years back in time before “King Perry”. It takes place in year 1996. I kind of liked that. I was hoping that Vin would be shown to us as less confident character, who would maybe make some mistakes in his work and hopefully dial down his manipulativeness a notch.

I cannot say that I saw Vin as less self confident in this book though. In fact he confused the heck out of me in this one, probably more than in the first one. Part of the reason why I am so curious about this series is because I want to figure out what is the basis for the story. I mean, the main idea is obviously clear – the books are an allegory for the spiritual reawakening of the person, the person going on metaphorical Quest, reaching deep in himself and awakening the best part of himself. I get all of that, but depending on who Vin will turn out to be, the books will be based either on religion, or just on the person’s inner strength and friends helping him to reach it. I was so impatient that I went to author’s blog trying to find what he was using as roots for this series. I will have to admit that his blog was not much help ;).

I mean, I found the links where he did talk about the inspiration for the books, but let’s just say that I did not see much of it in the stories. Heroes of the legends, oral and written mostly ended up dead as we know, and their fatal flaws were the reasons for that. Most heroes of the mythos ended up being defeated by their flaws instead of defeating them. I mean, he brings up Odisseus and Gilgamesh, but these are the only two famous figures of the heroic mythos that as far as I know died in their beds :).

I am afraid that while I liked the end result in this book, I still do not care for Vin much. He interests me as an intellectual puzzle, but I do not feel much love or sympathy for him. And I was trying to figure out why I still did not like him. I mean, yes, I hate manipulative characters , but while I think he was being one in this book, I did not feel that his actions were just as outrageous as the ones he imposed on Perry. Or maybe my pep talk that I gave myself about not letting my dislike influence my evaluation of the book worked somewhat? Anyway, I was trying to understand what else I disliked in Vin and I think I partially got it. He kept saying that he loved all the men he kinged in the past and he really loved Mai.

“You don’t recognize my love,” I say softly. “And I love you.” He freezes in my arms.
‘I’ve been loving you for months during our summer conversations and then here in the town for
weeks, wondering why you acted  sad some days and happy others. Watching you from your fields, I longed for you. Physically longed for you. I jacked off thinking about kissing you. I planned an entire weekend around you, Mai Kearns and why? Because I love the shit out of you.”

I am sorry, I was not buying all that great love from him. I was not feeling it I suppose and the more he was saying it, the more I was rolling my eyes and thinking “you keep talking about it, maybe show me something?” I think it was especially ironic because he was trying to reawaken ability to recognize love in Mai and I was not feeling it in him.

Also, apparently no matter what particular allegory “the finding of the King” is supposed to stand for, one thing is clear – you cannot spiritually awaken with all your best powers as King unless you feel a horrible pain first, relive all your traumas and you just must to relive it with Vin. It keeps bothering me, that idea that you must suffer before you get your reward. Is it a stand in for Christian suffering on earth before you get your reward in Heaven? It is mentioned several times that Mai was a Buddist, but it is not like he was behaving in any Buddist like manner except one time at the end IMO, so maybe his nature was predisposed to another religion? So basically I am still not sure what the books are supposed to stand for. I mean, the most obvious IMO answer is the modern “self help book” on how to become a happier, stronger person.  I am not a psychologist, but I thought the patient remembering all the horrors that happened to him as a predicament to healing was the creature of fiction and the opposite of how it supposed to happen. But maybe what I read was the pop psychology articles, because I certainly cannot claim to be the expert on that.

I did like Mai, I liked him a lot, but I still felt that whatever happened to him happened because it was supposed to happened and not because that was an organic thing waiting to happen if that makes sense. I am not sure if it a good thing or a bad thing, but I  was glad that I finished the book,

Vin still interests me very much as a puzzle to solve, I just wish that the books made bigger impact on my heart, instead of on my head alone. But the story is well written and recommended.

The Lost and Founds Series

5 comments

  • Excellent review Sirius, it helps explain why I do not get this series, even though I can shower the writing and concept with praise. Thank you for helping me get over the feelings of inadequacy …….. 😀

    Reply
    • Thanks but I think you meant to say an excellent mess of the review ;). I do think though that it reflects my confusion about this series and I am glad if it helped at least a little bit.

      Reply
  • Sirius, I agree with you — this really is a strange and compelling series. Can I like a protagonist I can’t trust farther than I could throw him? I want to know what drives Vin to create these enchanting custom-made initiation events. I understand why the men need what Vin has, but Vin creates a very unusual problem for me. 😕

    I haven’t read this one, but my copy is waiting for me to get to it. I read the first one seeing the initiate as the protagonist, and Vin simply as a catalyst. It’s strange, hearing a story of such a profound chemical reaction from the perspective of the catalyst, but that was how I dealt.

    One thing sure, Manning is a fine writer and cast an overwhelming spell!

    Reply

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