Written as a clean alternative to modern fantasies such as A Song of Fire and Ice, King’s Folly serves as an outstanding inaugural installment to the epic Kinsman Chronicles saga. Though it’s targeted to a Christian audience, the book never shies away from mature themes; instead, it opts to present adult content delicately, refraining from graphic descriptions and never glorifying immoral behavior.
The ensemble cast of characters is expansive but perfectly balanced, and, whether dealing in physical landscapes, intra-kingdom politics, or fractious religious sects, the world-building is exemplary. Williamson also draws from other genres, including western and spy thriller, deftly blending a variety of elements with standard high fantasy tropes.
For me, the only weak point of the entire affair is the frequent occurrences of one character recounting to another character events which the reader has already witnessed unfold. These instances seem to be presented to further flesh out character dynamics through a question-and-answer-flow dialog. Sometimes, it works; other times, it feels repetitive and slows down the narrative pacing. Still, this is a minor criticism and not a grievous enough offense to detract from the novel’s overall excellence. In fact, it may just be a personal problem on my part!
With all the black magic, palace intrigue, and shocking plot twists, King’s Folly is ready-made for a live-action TV adaptation—which, unfortunately, will probably never happen due to the Kinsman saga’s status as “Christian fantasy” (though not a single reader nor Hollywood executive bats an eye at Lord of the Rings or Narnia, two blatantly religious fantasies from unabashedly Christian authors). It’s a true shame, because Williamson’s book is seriously that good.
(This review originally appeared on this site as part of Cole Powell’s 2019 Reading List feature.)