Title: The King’s Whisper (Vanguards of Viridor #2)
Author: T. S. Cleveland
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Page Count: 398 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Felix isn’t an adventurer. He’s a poor flautist whose strange luck has placed him in the good favor of Viridor’s queen and in the arms of the guildmaster’s son. And now that the queen is safe and the decrees against elementals have been lifted, all that’s left is for him to return to the Guardians’ Guild, where he will continue writing songs about events he’s played no part in. But when Felix is kidnapped by the devastatingly handsome bandit king, he is thrust into the starring role of a terrifying and romantic adventure.
This story starts without preamble. What becomes clear quite quickly is that this story might have the odd character in common with the first book, but this book can be read without the need for the usual ‘what has happened so far’. In order for that to work, the world building needs to be rich enough to hold multiple stories. The author has done a good job with regards to this as this story develops locations as well as introducing new ones. It would be interesting to see how these map out.
Characterisation develops throughout and the central characters gain sufficient complexity and background to allow for empathy. It is a shame that some of the secondary characters are not so well fleshed-out as their exploits and their loss would be all the more poignant.
The magic system takes a different direction in this story. There is less focus on elementals and these become more of a side issue than affecting the plot. Where magic is relevant it is significantly underplayed, as the central character is blissfully unaware of it.
To say that the central character is naïve would be an understatement. It is blatantly obvious to the reader, but not really to anyone else that the central character is a source of magic that intrudes and influences all that happens. Without that seemingly obvious piece of information, the plot would unravel due to its lack of credibility. There is clearly some power that influences circumstances and this goes beyond what the character is capable of. It all seems nebulous but contrived. It is to be hoped that all of this will be clarified in a later book.
The plot is interesting but does not have any particular tension, as noted, the central character is buffered from negatives and falls lucky throughout. This does limit the richness of the story but does make for an easy read. Death and misfortune are present throughout but they are kept at arm’s length.
The central relationship is also heavily flagged and is obvious to all but the pair. Nevertheless, the growth of the relationship is one of the central themes and magic aside is well articulated. There is some sex, which is effectively described. Once again any tension that might be around this or lack of credibility can be swept up into the magic system. It is stated that both are experienced but this is not covered in detail.
There is a good solid pace throughout. The plot is rich with lots happening that is both interesting and a little exciting. The characters are likable and the reader gains empathy with them. This in turn encourages the reader to want to know what happens next.
The story ends neatly. The good guys have their happily ever after but a new potential relationship is presented that seems to be the focus for the next book. As this is in another location it also will allow for the world building to continue whilst allowing for another quite unique story.