A Kingdom Forgotten (Book 1 of A Throne of Souls) by Charles. W. M. McDonald Jr. - 3/10

A Kingdom Forgotten is a rather curious beast. The story breaks with the concept of linear time, allowing the protagonists to interact with various points of history and manipulate key events in order to fulfill a grand 'master plan’. While there are many different narratives in this book, A Kingdom Forgotten mostly focuses on the story of Damon and Radin. The former is potentially the most powerful wizard (or lamean as McDonald calls them) in the universe while the later stumbles across a bit of prophecy which takes his life in a new and very unexpected direction. Ultimately the story is about the end times of the universe and the battle between good and evil. Both sides of this coin are represented by a variety of different forces, though it remains unknown which side McDonald intends for Damon to be on, and all have their own mad schemes that they are trying to bring to fruition. Some seem to want to destroy all of creation while others naturally try to stop them. 

This is where things start to become a little stretched. By its very nature, A Kingdom Forgotten is a convoluted and twisting story which jumps from place to place and time to time almost randomly to reveal events that will eventually come together to form the end goal of the plot. This part alone is actually very well managed, McDonald has clearly set out and labeled the different time and place jumps which makes them much easier to follow. However, it would appear that this has also allowed for a few plot holes to remain in place. One example of this is a character suddenly being labeled as pregnant when there was no mention of it before. The other issue, perhaps caused by the complexity of the story line, is the sudden changes of personality. Damon alone goes through at least three or four changes, from evil murderer to tragic hero to rapist to world saver. It makes the characters very hard to follow or connect with in any meaningful way which sadly meant that by the end of the book I really didn't care if Armageddon happened or not.

There are a couple of reasons why I rated A Kingdom Forgotten 3 out of 10. The first, and by far the biggest, is the rather unfortunate and consistent sexism underlying the characterization of pretty much everyone. Damon is a full on rapist at points in the story, using magic to manipulate women into sleeping with him before they are literally dragged to hell for the act. This is compounded with a couple of times he forcibly kisses a woman while thinking that she wants it because of the way she dresses! Every woman is introduced by a description of how seductive she is, followed swiftly by the shape of her bust. That  that the main character is evil wouldn't be so much of an issue were it not for the fact that we are clearly supposed to have some level of respect for Damon and how powerful he is. This behavior is also echoed, though to a lesser extent, through Radin and nearly every other male character who comes into contact with a woman. The other reason is that I found quite a few typos, mostly just missing words, but they made the story quite jarring to read at times.

Aside from the above, it's not a bad story but it does feel like McDonald tried to make too much happen too quickly and the end feels a little rushed. There are at least four more books planned for the series and if you enjoy classic high fantasy it's not a bad way to pass the time. I think one of the reasons that I was a little disappointed in the end is because McDonald introduces the book in such a grand fashion, explaining that there will be interconnected events and an overall grandeur that I felt the story just didn't live up to. With that in mind you might enjoy it more if you take the hype with a little more than a pinch of salt.

I think if McDonald can really pin down how he wants us to feel about his characters and then build a bit more consistency around them and the story line this could turn out to be quite a strong series, but this would be no small task as he would need to completely change the writing style to remove all of the sexism. The world of magic also seems a little inconsistent and people suddenly become far more powerful than they were a page before with little or no reason. That said, he mentions at the end that a lot of his inspiration to write comes from The Wheel Of Time series and Jordan had a lot of issues to work out from book one in books two and three, so perhaps this will follow suit.

You can buy A Kingdom Forgotten from Amazon here --> A Kingdom Forgotten (A Throne of Souls Book 1)

You can also find my review posted on the Online Book Club forum here


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