Lioness of Kell
Paul E. Horsman
Published: 30th January, 2015
Red Rune Books
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk
Age: Young Adult
From: Enchanted Book Promotions
Secure in his position as the Prince-warlock’s son, seventeen-year-old Basil is content with his solitary life of study and magic. He has a comfortable set of rooms in his father’s tower, he has his books and scrolls, and he is perfectly happy. Until the Warlockry Council summons him, and their demands sets his whole, safe existence tottering. Scared and unsure, he decides to run, and takes the first ship out of town. On board he meets Yarwan, the handsome midshipman, who awakens feelings he never knew existed.
Maud of the M’Brannoe, at eighteen already a capable fighter, is about to graduate as a Lioness, a special duty officer answering to the Kell Queen and no one else. The Prince-warlock asks her to fetch a certain boy from a pirate town, who could be double for his son. On their way back, someone sabotages their airship and the two find themselves marooned in an ill-reputed forest. Together, the young lioness and Jurgis the lookalike run for the coast and a ship home, while finding solace in each other’s arms.
Then the four young people meet, and Basil learns of a spell that might help him. Only the spell’s creator, the infamous Black Warlock, disappeared nearly a century ago. When the four young people decide to go looking for him, they start on a path leading to an old war and unsolved mysteries that will change the world. Or kill them.
A spirited fantasy story of high adventure and romantic love, in an alternate earth setting of tropical islands, pirates, trolls and wyrms, where both magic and early modern technology flourish.
What I liked: No joke, the diversity of the cast we follow is by far my favorite aspect of this story. Our main character that we follow, Maud? A person of color, and a completely awesome warrior, on her way to become a lioness of the Kell people. Think the Amazonian women, and that was the way the story seemed to emulate the women from Kell. She’s not stereotyped either, but has the right amount of flaws to make her believable and it worked so well. The fact that she is a person color wasn’t shoved into my face continuously, yet it was easy to remember how she looked. Lets not forget that we also get a character who has a lame foot and (gasp) a non-heterosexual relationship. Yes, this book is going against regular fantasy tropes that I’ve read countless times and it made me so happy to read this book, so different from so many other books I’ve read before! Lets not forget the steampunk aspect that gets brought in to the story, and it mixed so easily with the magical elements the story had too. The world building wasn’t overdone, the pacing was really well, and there wasn’t any obvious lull in the storytelling.
What I didn’t like: I can’t really pick apart any really big thing that I didn’t obviously like, it was a really good read to me but there were, as always, some minor flaws to me. Nothing major, nothing that will impact the overall enjoyment of reading the story, but there were minor things that I wasn’t sold about with this book.
Overall Review: Despite some very minor flaws, this book has everything I’ve been really looking for in a fantasy book, and managed to make all the characters believable and fun to follow. From the world building to the storytelling and its pace, Lioness of Kell is a great book that is different from so many of the other books in the fantasy genre.
Recommend?: Yes definitely! I would be crazy not to recommend a book that features a WoC as the main protagonist, a character with a lame foot, and a non-heterosexual relationship!
My Rating: 4.3/5
About the Author
Paul E. Horsman (1952) is a Dutch and International Fantasy Author. Born in the sleepy garden village of Bussum, The Netherlands, he now lives in Roosendaal, a town on the Dutch/Belgian border.
He has been a soldier, salesman, scoutmaster and from 1995 a teacher of Dutch As A Second Language to refugees from all over the globe.Since 2012, he is a full-time writer of epic light fantasy adventures for both Y.A. and over. His works have been both trade published in The Netherlands, and self-published internationally.
His available titles are:
* The Shadow of the Revenaunt (Rhidauna, Zihaen, Ordelanden) trilogy
* The Shardheld Saga (Shardfall, Runemaster, Shardheld) series
* Lioness of Kell (standalone)