One of the pitfalls of being a reviewer is the annoying little critic's voice that lurks in my head while I read. The voice tends to comment on everything in the book, both good and bad, and distracts me from the story. But this is also how I know when I like a book: the little voice goes silent. When reading Brondt Kamffer's book, The Wrath of Kings and Princes, that annoying voice fell silent most of the time. Unfortunately, it reappeared at the end of the story.
The Wrath of Kings and Princes tells the story of Childe Cern, a rebellious young man who doesn't want to grow up to be a king like his father. In fact, he doesn't want to grow up at all. But when he reunites with a long-lost childhood friend and falls in love with a mysterious woman from the country, Cern discovers that he not only can follow his father's path, but that he must.
This is a complex book, full of multiple story lines and flashbacks. But Kamffer handles the different threads with such ease that the reader is never lost. The complexity also makes the book very entertaining. Unlike some fantasies which move slowly, Kamffer's book is never dull. The author is an excellent story teller, and his characters are multi-faceted and interesting. The romance is also wonderful. It's sweet without being syrupy, and adds a nice sparkle to the rest of the book.
One of the best traits of this novel is the tension at the end. The buildup is wonderful, and by the last forty pages, the book becomes nearly impossible to put down. But, unfortunately, that's where the trouble sets in.(Warning: possible spoilers)
Generally in a novel, the climatic scene comes at a time in which the hero or heroine face an impossible challenge, and in order to resolve the tension in the book, the hero must conquer whatever problems he faces. It is here that the reader learns what the hero is really made of.
While Kamffer does an outstanding job of creating tension, the resolution is very disappointing. Neither the hero nor the heroine ever take control of the situation. Instead, the main characters fall to the ground and let fate take over. There is, quite literally, a deux ex machina. When the final, dramatic scenes plays out, the reader is left scratching her head and wondering what happened.
Kamffer is a gifted writer with an ability to create a complex novel that captures the reader's imagination. Unfortunately, this ability was marred by a very weak ending that ultimately spoiled the narrative.