King John (The Lost and Founds Book 4) Kindle Edition
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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How do I find the adequate words to describe the magnificence and brilliance that is The Lost and Founds series?
I don’t know that I can, but here is where I’ll try.
These are not your typical romance books. Yes, there is love. Lots of love. Yes, there’s some sex. Yes, there are two people finding their way. There is a journey, of sorts. There is betterment, of sorts. This is packed with a wild array of emotions that will have the reader laughing out loud and sobbing in their cheerios. Well, this reader at least; but it wasn’t cheerios, it was wine. There is way more to this book and series than what is found in anything else in this genre that I’ve encountered. Far, far more.
I don’t know to what extent the ‘far more’ reaches yet. I started reading the books in this series in May of this year and was instantly wowed, amazed, and enthralled. I knew these books weren’t typical. I think they’re a study in existential transformations, finding your authentic self, and being guided to those self-actualizations by the mostly manipulative, highly creative and intelligent, but thoroughly unreliable narrator called Vin Vambly (not his real name). Again…there’s more to it.
The settings are important. The cities and landscapes are important. They’re characters in their own right. The surroundings are gorgeously designed metaphors for a lost king’s journey – what he’s coming from, what he’s finding in himself to be.
Also, the clever author who is Edmond Manning has tucked in little nuggets—Easter Eggs, if you will—of information, hints, teasers, puzzle pieces, that, if you’re paying attention, should start falling into place to give the reader a broader understanding to the entire world and construct of The Lost and Founds and the Kings who belong there.
I don’t think I was paying my full attention in the first few books. I don’t think I picked up on all of the clues—some, yes…erm, maybe. I must put it on the top of my “To Do’ list to go back and read all the books again.
I highly recommend reading the entire Lost and Founds series. Make sure to read them in the order they were published. I think that’s an important point. Open your heart and mind and let Vin lead the way through the first four vastly unique journeys. Even if you miss the clues and symbolism these books are a well written and wildly entertaining emotional journey.
So, here would be the place I attempt to provide a succinct synopsis of this incredible tome that spans a mere few days but feels as though it has exposed more raw emotional material than ever before. Returning to the place where he has truly felt at home for the only time in his life, Vin partakes of the Burning Man festival held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. A seven day exploration of self expression that has few boundaries and is geared toward inclusion, self-reliance and the idea that they will leave no trace of themselves after the end of their time in the desert. Everything that can burns in the end, including the gigantic man who is built to herald in the event and mark it’s closing.
Vin meets all manner of people but as in the past with this man there is always an edge of worry—for you see this is not his first year and he has a reputation that precedes him—he has made an enemy. A ranger discovered Vin many years before when he broke the law and jumped the barrier that keeps the burning man participants safe from wandering off and getting lost in the desert. The fence is also a way to contain those who attend the festival so that there can be some stability in what appears to be well established chaos. The rangers do not like rule breakers and poor Vin is a veteran rule breaker
So he moves about the festival happy in many ways and yet cautious, for this is the Vin we know from previous novels: controlled, careful, self-critical and condemning, lost while still being the near perfect guide for men in need of rediscovering their kingship. While this was not meant to be a king weekend, Vin will be approached by a man desperate to become just that—a found king. Alistair is an enigma, a British lawyer on American soil who has met one of Vin’s success stories, another found King, Liam.
Alistair is positive he knows it all—has got a fix on Vin and his many bag of tricks—his “magic”. Alistair pursues Vin who almost grudgingly gives in and sets the wheels in motion for this lost king to find his way to cross over and return to his destiny. But Alistair is full of questions and resists Vin’s best attempts to guide him on the right path. In fact, Alistair will be the linchpin to cracking wide open a time in Vin’s past that he has kept hidden for so long. Vin will be forced to share a memory that to this day still has the power to gut his soul and remind him of the failure he is so certain he is—a lost king that will never be found.
King John begins slowly, unwrapping the festival and establishing it’s background, setting the scene for us. Even when Alistair arrives to make Vin’s final days at Burning Man a frantic scramble for setting up a king weekend the story almost lazily takes on the challenge set before Vin. Then something happens. I am not sure at what point this story became so intense but the moment it did I could not put this book down. So much was at stake suddenly, lives in peril, a dredged up past threatening to destroy the fragile equilibrium that Vin clings to in order to not see how horribly he does not belong. All of a sudden this is not about Alistair but rather about survival and not only Vin’s.
This was perhaps the most gut wrenching King novel to date. In previous books, we had been privy to Vin’s great moments of self-doubt and frantic worry that he was not going to do right by his lost king—that he would be the thing to prevent a king from crossing over due to his fumbling, heavy handed acts that were meant to aid his King rather than hinder. This was the Vin we had grown used to—the one that we would shout at again and again to stop berating himself, stop worrying, stop running away from his own destiny. In this novel, author Edmond Manning has done the unthinkable—he has lulled us into this false sense of security. He’s come along side us and with a nudge and a wink assured us that Vin was just doing that “Vin stuff” he does and all would work out in the end. Till now. Till King John. Till an ending so shocking that I actually dropped my kindle. No, say it is not so, Mr. Manning—say it is all just another elaborate clue that will lead to a happy ever after for our Vin--our lost king who surely will get found.
Instead we got…I am afraid you will have to read this novel to complete that sentence for yourself. Is this long trek into madness and mayhem in the desert worth the emotional wreckage it might leave behind with you? I must say, dear reader, it is. There are such wonderful moments in this story and there are such heart breaking times as well. However, it is the journey—as always it is the journey that will make you race through this novel and once again recognize just a piece of your own humanity within its pages. I bid you calm winds and cooler days as you traverse this desert with Vin. Every second with this story is a second well spent.
I got the book at 9 pm, and I was going to read a few chapters before bed, but now it's 3 am and I just finished it. I couldn't put it down. It's so good.
The previous The Lost and Founds books were a little bit of a slow start for me because I initially didn't like the man Vince is guiding through his king weekend. This book was different for me. I loved Alistair right away. In this blog post (http://www.myfictionnook.com/2015/09/blogtourreview-king-john-by-edmond-manning.html), Edmond Manning talks about what the four kings represent and asks which king are you? I think I'm Alistair. I relate to him the most, at least.
I don't know what else to say about this, other than to strongly recommend it. Make sure you have a box of tissues nearby - it made me tear up at a few points. If you haven't read any of the previous books in The Lost and Founds, I would recommend reading them in order. There's a lot of background you need to get the full impact from this one.
Finally, a few trigger warnings:
Rape is discussed by the characters, but not portrayed
Child abuse is discussed by the characters, but not portrayed
Most recent customer reviews
This is what I love most about Edmond's books : you enter the fantastic world he creates with his words - you can see...Read more