Kings and Daemons is Marcus Lee’s debut and the first book in a new epic fantasy series, The Gifted and the Cursed.
A big thank you to Marcus Lee for reaching out to me and sending me a free copy of Kings and Daemons in return for an honest review.
The story begins with Maya, a ranger out hunting for food for her village. Through her eyes, we find out that the land has been poisoned and corrupted, with finding food becoming more and more difficult. The land has been corrupted by Daleth the Witch-King, who has ruled the kingdom for the last 50 years. He gains his magic and immortality from the suffering of others. However, Maya has magic of her own and is able to heal the world (and others). She is arrested because her magic is discovered and is taken to see the Witch-King himself. One of the soldiers escorting her there is Taran — who is hiding magic powers of his own.
Kings and Daemons is Marcus Lee’s debut novel and the first in a brand new series. It’s a fantastic read and is an incredible accomplishment for a first book!
The world that Marcus has created is huge — full of history, lore and incredibly expansive. He manages to get all of this information across without a huge ‘info dump’ too (which is a big accomplishment on its own — there is a lot here!). The world feels original and refreshing, with great twists on traditional fantasy tropes. For example, all magic use comes with a high price (I won’t say more as it will spoil the story, but I was very shocked by the price each character had to pay later on!).
The Witch-King in this story felt so original and a true ‘bad guy’ that you could really hate. His powers come from corrupting the world and making people suffer. As a consequence, the Ember Kingdom has suffered hugely under his rule. And of course, this isn’t enough — he is seeking to take over more of the world and spread his corruption further. I really enjoyed reading the sections from his point of view and reading about his past, which made him feel more relatable and realistic.
Taran and Maya both have their own magic powers. Maya can heal the land (but then it can’t be corrupted again by the Witch King). Taran is a telepath, who uses his mind-reading for his advantage during combat. I enjoyed seeing both characters develop throughout the book, with Maya becoming more playful and teasing as her confidence grows. The two end up falling in love — this was the one aspect of Kings and Daemons that I didn’t enjoy so much as the romance develops very quickly. There were some cute moments between the two, though I did feel a little sorry for Rakan, who feels like the awkward third wheel at times!
Kalas was probably my favourite character in the story. He allowed himself to be possessed by a daemon so that he could become a more powerful warrior to help him defeat the Witch-King. But again, this comes at a cost. He’s a great addition to the story, with his daemon making him quite a ‘chaotic neutral’ character — I was never quite sure what he was going to do next!
The story moves very quickly — a lot happens in the book and there are a lot of new characters, creatures and concepts introduced. It also switches between multiple points of view. But I never felt that it was too overwhelming or that there was an ‘info dump’. This is a great debut novel and a really promising start to the series. I am going to be reading and reviewing the second book in the series, Tristan’s Folly, very soon, and I am really looking forward to it!
The blurb for Kings and Daemons
‘What the gods give with one hand, they take away with the other, for if you are gifted, you shall also be cursed.’
If you like fantasy tales of conquest, dark kings, daemonic heroes, and magic, you’ll love Kings and Daemons.
This is a spellbinding Dark Fantasy novel which will enchant you with its plot of ambition, revenge, love, and tragedy.
Over fifty years have passed since Daleth the seemingly immortal Witch-King, and his army conquered the Ember Kingdom.
Now, with the once fertile lands and its enslaved people dying around him, the Witch-King, driven by his insatiable thirst for eternal youth, prepares his forces to march on the prosperous neighbouring Freestates. It will be the beginnings of a conquest that could destroy nations, bringing death and destruction on an unimaginable scale.
Then, when a peasant huntress whose rare gift was concealed from birth is exposed, it sets in motion a chain of events that could alter the destiny of generations to come.
About the author, Marcus Lee
Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.
As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.
Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.
So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, or if demand dictates my new career.
However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be the first of many. I genuinely hope so.
Who knows, now these creatives juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.
Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and The Illiad as a seven-year-old. Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others.
Check out my reviews of the second and third books in the series: Tristan’s Folly and The End of Dreams. I also recently interviewed Marcus Lee about his inspiration for the series, and what’s next for his writing career!