Barrente Publishing

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By Daniel Thomas Valente

IR Rating:
A promising addition to the high fantasy genre, Daniel Thomas Valente's THE SINS OF KINGS is an ambitious, engrossing debut that will captivate readers who crave more from fantasy than just sword fights and sorcery.
IR Approved
A royal family grapples with a web of political intrigue, dark family secrets, and existential threats to their kingdom in this first book in the Last of the Valdryz fantasy series.

In THE SINS OF KINGS, the first book in the Last of the Valdryz fantasy series by debut author Daniel Thomas Valente, the royal Graymere family stands on the precipice of ruin, their hold on power buckling beneath endless power struggles, a flailing economy, and external threats. The arrival of a mysterious outsider triggers a cascade of events that unearths dark family secrets, weakening the family’s unity and threatening to undermine their power as a looming evil threatens to annihilate their legacy and kingdom.

Princess Edlen Graymere, one of the story’s central characters, is a 16-year-old royal who finds herself stifled by the duties and expectations that come with her title and yearns for a life beyond her royal obligations. Darrin Cantlay is a member of the Eyes of the Forest, an ancient legion of guards tasked with protecting the royal family. Edlen and Darrin find their bravery tested when a rival kingdom, the shadowy Voress Ni, throws the realm into chaos. Amid rumors of the return of the Valdryz—emissaries of the godlike creators of the world who have not been seen for thousands of years—the characters must thwart the schemes of the Voress Ni and survive the mysterious forces swirling around them.

Valente’s sprawling, ambitious epic plays out across a broad narrative canvas, offering multiple perspectives that enrich the story’s depth and scope. From Rhen, Edlen’s giant protector with a heart to match his size, to Aldir, Edlen’s widowed father who shoulders the burden of a kingdom on the brink of ruin, each character is a puzzle piece fitting into a larger, intricate picture. As the opening chapter of a wider saga, THE SINS OF KINGS lays down a trail of narrative breadcrumbs that set the stage for forthcoming installments in the series. The full extent of the motives and designs of the enigmatic Voress Ni, for instance, aren’t fully revealed, while hinting at layers of intrigue yet to be unraveled. Similarly, the whispers and revelations regarding the Valdryz offer tantalizing glimpses of a more expansive world beyond the scope of the Graymeres that is ripe for exploration in later volumes.

Valente’s prose is crisp and polished, navigating the reader through an intricate plot without calling attention to itself. Action sequences in particular are gracefully rendered, presenting dizzying flurries of moving parts without confusing the reader. One standout moment takes place at a tournament battle—a chaotic, frenetic scene that Valente brings to cinematic life with vivid details: “A thick cloud of dirt and dust rose from the stamping feet of the terrified crowd, and through this brown haze, Edlen spotted what looked like small fires blazing in the streets where the vendors had set up their stalls.”

Conversations flow naturally, and his empathetic narrative style beautifully conveys the novel’s themes of loyalty, redemption, and the weight of legacy, especially when exploring the internal struggles of his characters. For instance, in portraying Darrin’s role as an Eye of the Forest, Valente allows readers to feel the weight of his responsibility, the conflict between his sense of duty to his position and his evolving understanding of what loyalty to his kingdom truly means. Similarly, Edlen’s internal battle to reconcile her role as a princess with her personal values offers readers an exploration of how legacy is not simply a birthright but a complex tapestry of expectations, sacrifices, and moral obligations. This deeper exploration turns what could be a standard fantasy trope into a complex moral dilemma. While the novel suffers from some pacing issues—too often slowing down the momentum to introduce minor characters, for instance—they are no more serious than what is typical for the first book in a saga.

A promising addition to the high fantasy genre, Daniel Thomas Valente’s THE SINS OF KINGS is an ambitious, engrossing debut that will captivate readers who crave more from fantasy than just sword fights and sorcery.

~Edward Sung for IndieReader

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