Friday, August 19, 2016

The Summoned King by Dave Neuendorf

Title: The Summoned King
Author: Dave Neuendorf
Series: The Kalymbrian Chronicles
Publication Date: Feb 2016
Publisher: Self Published
Age Group: YA
Genre: Christian Fantasy
Pages: 356
Format: eBook
Source: Author provided Review Copy
Find the Book: Amazon | Goodreads

Indiana high school senior James Madison Young might best be described as a Renaissance man: intelligent, of good character, well educated, and full of passionate interests in everything from Krav Maga to robotics. One evening he falls asleep while studying at the library. He wakes to find himself in another world, filled with magic, danger, and romance. He has been summoned by court wizard Maynard to be the king of Kalymbria. Forced into marriage with the beautiful and magically powerful yet untrained Julia Roper for his queen, he must restore the lapsed Constitution in the face of opposition from a hostile Council of Advisors, and defend his new country from the evil machinations of the wizard Ruinga and her allied kingdom of Venicka. Rediscovering the lost art of enchantment may provide him with a powerful edge in his quest, if he can survive the assassins and conspiracies arrayed against him.

    I have to say, it felt like this book was more than just the author's book, it was his story. What I mean is that this was the adventure on which he imagined himself. Clearly, I'm not saying he actually went to an alien world and did all these things, but that it's the adventure he'd want to experience if given the opportunity.  It really seemed, to me, like the author put a lot of himself into Jim. I could be wrong--but I don't think I am.
    I was a little worried when I started reading this one. It was very slow to get started. Honestly, I would have gotten into the story much faster had it jumped in with Jim awakening in Kalymbria, I didn't really need to know what he was doing before he found himself on an alien planet. But once I got past that, the pace of the rest of the story was good.
    Initially, I also had a hard time with the word choice and tone. It just didn't say "seventeen year-old" to me, but I thought back to my years in high school and remembered that I had friends that did talk a lot like Jim... in fact, I remember a two-hour discussion a friend and I had about the origination of language and how ancient language would have likely been based on a heavenly language (a teacher walked outside where we were sitting near his window to tell us that he was so glad to hear teens talking about something other than who our hottie of the week was). So, once I thought about that, Jim's vocabulary made a lot of sense.
    Beyond that, I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were interesting and I look forward to seeing how they grow as the series continues. Jim is likable, if not a little too "nerd-perfect." He didn't seem to his a single snag that he couldn't solve or didn't, at the very least, have a kindle book on the subject. For me, those moments when the hero doesn't know what to do are what make me either love him or hate him, those are the moments in the story when I find out what kind of person the hero really is, and I didn't really get any of those. I do have hope for the next book though!
    Along that same vein, because Jim didn't seem to encounter any obstacles he couldn't almost immediately solve, I felt like the plot was kind of "problem, solution, problem, solution." I really wanted the conflict to be more interwoven into the overall plot.
   The world creation was excellent. Throughout the story, he revealed tidbits about the nuances of the culture, the people, and even the animals. Though all of those things were extremely similar to earth, it was still enough to set the world apart. There were moments when I felt more like Jim had simple been pulled back through time rather than transported to another planet, but it certainly didn't affect the story.
   His use of magic was probably my favorite part of the story. I really love magic systems that are based on the idea that magic and science are extremely similar, if not the same. Kalymbrian magic falls in the "similar" category and I did enjoy seeing how Jim was able to use his knowledge of technology to affect similar concepts through magical artifacts.
   Another thing I really enjoyed about this one was the way the author handled the "Christian" part of the genre. Even as a Christian, I often find that most Christian Fiction is was too preachy and tries to shove the Gospel down the reader's throat. Neuendorf uses Jim to reveal the message through a couple of opportunities Jim finds to talk to others about Christ, though for the most part, Jim is revealing his faith through his words and actions. Rather than calling them all heathens and hell-bound, Jim shows kindness, is fair in his rule, and abides by Biblical principles regardless of the situation he faces.
   All-in-all, I really enjoyed reading The Summoned King and I look forward to the next book in the series!

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