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King Maker: The Knights of Breton Court, volume 1 Mass Market Paperback – September 28, 2010
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"Maurice Broaddus' writing creates a dangerous and authentic mood. The language is fierce and evokes the gritty realism of life on the streets... For some, King Maker is going to be the best read of 2010." - FantasyLiterature.com
"King Maker is a fascinating novel... [and] should be on every SF fan's shelf." - Adam Christopher
"Deft characterization, authentic dialogue, exciting plot... Maurice Broaddus has definitely brought his A-game to this urban joust." - Gene O'Neill
"King Maker's strength is its ability to stay true-to-life even when the fantasy components come into play..." - Nick Cato, Stem Shots
"It’s impossible to approach a new version of the timeless tale [of King Arthur] without asking, 'Do we really need this version?' I’m pleased to report that Maurice Broaddus provides many compelling answers to this question, answers which led me to conclude with a resounding 'yes.'" - The Sci-Fi Guys Book Review
About the Author
The author lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. His areas of interests includes religious studies, folklore, and myths. His previous books was the novellas Orgy of Souls (written with Wrath James White) and Devil's Marionette. He's a senior writer for HollywoodJesus.com and his dark fiction has been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and web sites, most recently including Dark Dreams II&III, Apex Magazine, Black Static, and Weird Tales Magazine. He is the editor of the Dark Faith anthology. His novel series, The Knights of Breton Court (Angry Robot) debuts in 2010. Visit his site at MauriceBroaddus.com.
Top Customer Reviews
King Arthur in modern day, gang-ridden Indianapolis, this book promises, and the Arthurian legend is evident in King Maker by Maurice Broaddus. The book opens with the short, dark tale of Luther, gang leader and father to an infant, King James White. Not long after betraying King's mother with another woman Luther is shot, betrayed by his right hand man.
With that, we're told in the tone of a Shakespearean tragedy, the story moves on to King, who is in fact the One True King (albeit rather far from England). Except that despite King's role as the lead he's actually in the book very little.
In fact that's where this whole book stalled for me. Broaddus can clearly write circles around other people, but in this book he writes in circles that have hollow middles. Almost all the focus is on character building, tension building and weaving in the minute details of the re-written mythos. But for a large part of the book nothing happens.
Also, Broaddus spends an exorbitant amount of time building up characters who are ultimately side characters. This leads to next to no connection with King himself and a sense of confusion when major events to happen, or major players are killed. Because the emphasis is on everyone being gray (all the bad guys have a reason for their bad, either playing a role or being crushed by a poor life) is so overwhelming that no one comes out as a compelling or valiant hero.
Fate and legend are powerful aspects of the tale, as is the desolation and hopelessness of life way below the poverty line. Not to mention the clever metamorphosis of fiends into zombies and the very interesting use of fae and otherworldly creatures in the most unusual of modern settings. Once Broaddus does get things moving King Maker gets very good, richly thematic and enticingly original.
But in the end this book on its own is too slow for most urban fantasy fans. Luckily readers won't have to see it end here, and can hope things pick up in book two (King's Justice due March 2011).
I started this book believing it to be a retelling of the story in a new setting. I quickly realized that wasn't the case after all. The events we all know from Mallory, White and others are referenced here and there in the narrative. They happened. Instead, King Maker posits are cyclic story that arises repeatedly as the conditions are right.
In the first chapter alone we see old friends' new forms - Luther White (Uther), (The) Green (Knight), Morgana (la Fey), Merle (Merlin), etc. White, a powerful street lord, has a son, King. He also has a tryst with Morgana and fathers another, before he's killed by Green and by treachery.
Some time passes, and we learn than the situation has changed. Green remains a lieutenant to a man called Night (Gwyn ap Nudd, maybe?). They are opposed by Luther's unacknowledged son, Dred. King, after a flirtation with thuggishness in his youth has stepped out of it, spending his time more with Wayne, a social worker and general do-gooder who's come up out of the same neighborhood.
The book's plot deals mostly with machinations between Dred and Night, though they have consequences for King, Wayne, and other characters. It's not until close to the end of the book that circumstances, fate, and crazy ol' Merle have convinced King that he needs to step up and protect Breton Court from the two gang lords.
The only real downside to the book for me was the writing, which was inconsistent. In many ways it was excellent; Broaddus uses different authorial voices depending on the POV characters, bringing them even more to life. At the same time, there were instances of pointlessly complex sentences, missing verbs, and other poor construction.
Still, those issues were infrequent enough to avoid making the book unpleasant. Broaddus' deft intermingling of straight and gang life, magic, and the fey made for a compelling read. The Arthurian underpinnings provided a strong foundation. Deviations from the story and the addition of crime and horror elements prevented it from feeling stale or rehashed.
I look forward to reading the second book in the series.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
(Note: this is NOT PG-13)
A very active, very engaging tale. Great imagery. Set in Indianapolis. Enjoyed it. Probably won't let the kiddos near it.
That doesn't tell the story.
This book is gorgeous, in a dark and horrible way.