Following the brutal murder of his younger brother, Liall, the once exiled Prince of Rshan, has been made King. It is a position he never wanted, but now that the duty has been thrust upon him, he can hardly ignore it. Niall struggles to maintain a balance between the normal ruthlessness of Rshani politics and a growing threat from bandits to the north. He wears the crown uneasily and with war brewing, Liall has even greater reason to worry about Scarlet, his consort and the love of his life.
Scarlet has adapted to life at court poorly. He prefers the simplicity of his homeland and loathes the cutthroat, complexity of the Rshai royal place. Adding to his discontent is the realization that Liall will soon have to marry in order to secure an heir and that his magic, so fragile and feared in Rshan, is quickly increasing in power. With few friends and too many enemies, Scarlet is trapped between his love for Liall and his desperate need to know more about his magic and his people’s heritage. Love has saved Liall and Scarlet more than once, but with more to lose than ever before, both men must be willing to take risks that they never imagined contemplating.
I was thrilled when I saw that Kirby Crow had written another in the Scarlet and the White Wolf series. It has been so long since the initial trilogy was published, I had long assumed there would be no further volumes. The King of Forever was a pleasant interlude, one that offered a chance to visit again with two great characters, but failed to provide much forward action. The writing was as enjoyable as always and the author has a natural, easy voice that really comes through on every page. There is a strong sense of world building, which adds an elemental layer to the plot but never overshadows the heart of the story. Unfortunately the story itself never amounts to much. Like with Mariner’s Luck, the second in the series, The King of Forever seems to be something of a placeholder for future action. While I understand the need for these types of books in a series, and even occasionally appreciate them, it didn’t stop me from wanting something more to happen. The King of Forever does a great job of setting up the action for the next entry into the series and there was an edge of expectation that was intriguing, but overall I would have preferred if the plot had evolved a bit more all around.
Liall and Scarlet are still the main focus and, despite their inherent differences, they are becoming more adept at communicating with one another. And they have both realized that they are independent and require certain freedoms even within the context of their relationship. While Scarlet was very much the same feisty pedlar we have come to know and love, Liall was a great deal more reactionary in this novel, tending to act in anger or frustration rather than maintaining his normally even keel. I’m not sure if this was a specific choice by the author but more than once I found myself wondering what was going on with him. While he did not always seem so different from the previous books, there was just enough of a shift in his character to catch my attention. Normally a character should grow and change but these particular changes to Liall’s personality don’t really fit and as a result, they don’t blend well with the rest of the narrative. I’m hoping we see a return to Liall’s original personality in the next installment.
Overall, while I did enjoy The King of Forever, I did so with the understanding that this book is merely a bridge between the original trilogy and the next in the series. While its light on action and plot expansion, it does do a good job of establishing a framework for a possible war, the conundrum of Liall’s need to secure an heir, and Scarlet’s unpredictable and wild magic. So, while The King of Forever doesn’t quite have the impact of the initial books, it is still a thought-provoking story. It is also critical that one read it in order to stay up to date with the plot. So if you enjoyed the other books in the Scarlet and the White Wolf series, look at The King of Forever as a reintroduction to old friends and a comfortable addition to this author’s expanding universe.