My first thoughts when picking up this book was: "This is a big book." Though, I suppose 550 pages isn't that big compared to several other fantasy volumes. Then, I realized it was actually three small-ish books combined into one. So I forgave the author. (The three parts were originally released as e-books. You can read the first part for free here.)
As I entered the world of the Five Realms, I was immediately swooning over the world-building. If this book has one thing, it's world-building. The world is developed thoroughly. It feels lived in. It feels as if it could be real. Each Realm has their own system of government, system of beliefs, and system of etiquette. It's amazing. I loved reading all the little details that created this fantastic picture of this world. Seriously, I'm still rolling with joy about this. (Her website has a lot of cool graphics to go along with the world building. It's definitely worth checking out!)
In addition to a lot of pages, this book has a lot of characters. Thankfully, Jill Williamson included a character guide at the beginning. Still, as the story progressed, it jumped into many different points of view--characters I didn't even think would be significant or exciting to read. But it was! While this is only book one, it was interesting to see how all the different characters came together. I hope this continues further in book two, which will be released later this year. (Or parts 4-6 as ebooks.)
The overall plot and inspiration behind the book was enthralling as well. Jill Williamson stated in her author's note that she tried to "capture the darkness and superstitions of the ancient world" of the Old Testament. While this is pure fantasy, she used research of the kings of Israel as inspiration for her world and plot. I think this was a captivating move on her part. While this book is published under a Christian market, the book never felt preachy or pushy. It was fantasy through and through with a hint of a creator God at work. (This book has also restored my trust in Christian publishers to not publish only cliche, overdone story lines.)
This book deals with a lot of darker themes including sacrifices to gods, prostitution, disease, and deception. I wouldn't say any of this takes away from the story or that there was anything too descriptive or inappropriate. Much of it is implied or used to show the darkness and superstitions of believing in something other than the truth.
Overall, King's Folly spun me through a compelling story and a richly developed world. While it was long and there were a lot of characters, I thought the story was fantastic. I look forward to book two, King's Blood, and reading more works by Jill Williamson. She's definitely captured my attention!
(The whole series.)
~I received this book free from Bethany House for my open and honest opinion.~