Book Review With Mel and Sue - Almost King: The Rise of Jerik (A Tale of Two Nations Book 1) by K. L. Garrison
Welcome to Book Review with Mel and Sue! In posts like this Melanie (From Melanie's Muses - just in case there was any doubt) and author Susan Harris will both read the same book and then post their thoughts.
Standalone or series?
Melanie - Book 1 in a new series
Susan - Book 1 in a new series
Melanie - I call it Historical Fiction - Amazon has it listed as Alternative History
Susan - um...it's definitely fiction, with a dash of history in it.
Melanie - HA!!
How did we get this book?
The author approached us via the Melanie's Muses Facebook page and the cover and blurb intrigued us both so the author sent us both eCopies.
Why did we choose to read this book: It looked like something we might like - and well Vikings lol
And Now To The Review!
Melanie - I'm finding it really hard to figure out how to describe my first impressions. I've decided to go with there are mixed characters perspectives that sometimes didn't work for me. Also this seemed to move really fast like the author just wanted to get to a confrontation.
Susan - It took me a good couple of chapters to get an impression on the book, but I noted that while it was told from a few different perspectives, I just couldn't find myself rooting for any character.
Melanie - So this is a debut novel I believe, and it shows. Characters really need to be developed more to enable readers to understand the choices. The world building is a little confusing with time jumps, and strange decisions that at times feel to me like they were literally put there to enable the next bit of the story, rather than them flowing in an organic way that would allow readers to connect. I will say that the main character Jerik reminds me a lot of Ivor from Vikings - he annoys the hell out of me too and just won't die! (Wait for it - Susan will jump in now and defend Ivor - but I know she'll agree about Jerik!) I also feel the need to note that it just ends, and whilst I knew going in this was book 1 in a series, I can't even say it was a cliffhanger. I literally just ran out of pages. Greg was sitting with me when I finished and I kept flicking back and forth on my Kindle and he actually asked what I was doing and I explained that I literally feel like there are pages missing - but then there's the link to leave a review. So obviously there wasn't.
Susan - First off, I need to jump in and defend my boy Ivor - one of the BEST characters on Vikings despite his daddy issues and mean streak, he is calculating, smart and tenacious, and a little psychotic!
Susan - *ignores Melanie* - He's nothing at all like the man-child Jerik. As someone who loves Norse Mythology, even play with it in my own books, I found it hard to follow some of the half historical facts/ half authors interpretation. There were a few words that I've never heard of like a reference to Valhalla, but any person who was not familiar with Norse mythology might not have been able to understand and it was never explained. I like a book that you can find a character to root for, but I couldn't find myself finding one. I couldn't understand why, considering how whiney and disrespectful Jerik came across, why someone didn't just kill him? Vikings are ruthless and would not stand for such disrespect, even to females, who they classed as warriors.
Like with Mel, the book just ended, not really a cliffhanger, but had me going, is that it?
Melanie - Yes I agree - the new words seemed unnecessary but I don't think that using the original names really would have improved it. I didn't bother to look them up because I was able to work out what they were but you are totally right - for new readers without background knowledge it might be confusing.
Melanie - I think the actual story idea has a lot of merit but it moves too quickly and I would advise the author to slow down and remember that although these characters might have been living in their head for a while - we as readers don't always know what's going on and the choices made by them don't make sense. I think the biggest issue for me was everything felt so rushed, like it couldn't wait to jump from big moment to big moment, which sucked the depth out of it.
Susan - The book had a lot of promise, but the mix of accurate historical references and little tweaks made it hard for me to get sucked in to the world. I agree with Mel, sometimes the reader needs the author to break it down for us so we know exactly what is happening. Maybe I've read and studied the facts too much and am too familiar with it to have enjoyed the authors creative interpretation, but I'm sorry to say that this book did not resonate with me.
Melanie – For me this just scrapes in at a 3 star but that credit is mainly for the base idea that I think has potential.
Susan - This gets a 2 star from me, because while the premise of the book was great, I kinda felt disappointed that it strayed too much away from the Viking lore and Norse myths with not enough solid or likable characters to get me through it.
Melanie – That's fair – although I think if you didn’t love Ivor so much you would probably have rounded it up a tiny bit lol. Seriously though you are going in with a WAY more in depth prior knowledge that me – so it would be like me and vamp books that get yelled at!
Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you liked our "double take" on the same book and if you have a book you would like us to read just let us know!