If you have read Lucy Saxon’s Take Back the Skies, there is a chance you want to read the companion book. The Almost King is set in the same place, but the character it follows is not connected with those in the first book. I have not read the first book, and I was able to read it as a stand alone title, but I have to wonder if that resulted in my lack of interest in this book. I would have abandoned it about a fourth of the way through had I not committed to a copy from the publisher, but others may feel differently.
Aleks Vasin is the youngest of four brothers, each with his path mapped out. But Aleks doesn’t want to work in his father’s shop and live with his family in a village in the westernmost corner of Siberene. And when he hears his parents fretting about money, he decides to save them the cost of his keep and leave.
First he heads south – though everyone tells him not to – to Rudavin, headquarters of the kingsguard, and he signs up for the army, little knowing what brutality it entails. After only a few weeks, Aleks realizes that this garrison is full of liars and thieves; he’s signed away four years of his life to a commander who steals his money and a captain who’s already hurt Aleks’s beloved horse. This is not a noble destiny.
After a brutal beating, Aleks escapes, hoping to find safety and a new life somewhere in the north. And there, this deserter finds love, adventure, and a skyship in which he might just prove himself a hero after all – if he can evade the soldiers who seek to capture him.
Prepare for another sweeping adventure in this second book in a unique six-book series. Each book is set in a different land within the Tellus world, with repeating characters and related, nonlinear storylines that combine to create a one-of-a-kind, addictive reading experience.
This was a rather dull read for me. Too much time was spent developing characters and scenes that were not relevant to the adventure, so the pace was slow. I didn’t connect with the characters, sometimes because their motivations were muddy and sometimes because the dialogue was stilted and didn’t do much to help me discern their emotions. The romance was not very compelling, and more time was spent introducing the romantic interest’s aunt than really explaining the attraction between the two characters. The ending was not what I expected and felt a bit like a begrudging Dues Ex Machina. Overall, this is a monster of a book that I can’t see my high school readers finishing. Language and situatations are appropriate for grades 7+.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.