As Crown Prince, Kitsune assumes his place is secure. He isn’t close to his father, but wishes he could earn the man’s respect. When his father summons him to a previously forbidden room in the palace, Kitsune is nervous but hopeful. Instead, he finds himself banished from the kingdom for the crime of bedding with men. If he wants to return home, Kitsune must assassinate a powerful advisor to a neighboring kingdom. It’s a task Kitsune undertakes with reluctance.
His journey will be a life changing one. He discovers the truth behind his mother’s murder, finds himself wielding a deep well of hidden magic, and is falling in love with a man that may destroy him. Through it all, Kitsune will have to remember who he is and what it means to be a prince of the realm.
This book was, for lack of a kinder word, a struggle. There’s a plot and characters and so on, but The King’s Sun lacks much of a soul and has a main character who lacks the ability to think independently of the events occurring around him.
The King’s Sun has a rather stiff and awkward writing style. It lacks a consistent flow and the prose is often slightly jarring. It just doesn’t read smoothly and I was never able to settle and find a rhythm. There is a plot, which is both confusing and simplistic by turns. But at least it fleshes out the world building fairly well and that helps make sense of the wider story line. The big reveal was really pretty obvious from the start and there’s a side plot regarding the destruction of a previous people that never really fits. The King’s Sun can’t seem to decide if wants to be a fantasy, a fable, a cultural warning, or something else all together and worse yet, it doesn’t have much emotional meat attached to it. The characters are flat and uninspired and we’re expected to champion them without really knowing why.
Kitsune, I suspect, is supposed to be a sympathetic figure, but he proves to be rather weak of will. Despite being cast out and the humiliating manner in which it’s done, Kitsune is determined to carry through with his assassination task. Even when the depth of his father’s corruption is exposed, Kitsune remains fixed on his job. At one point there’s the suggestion that Kitsune has been manipulated into his situation, but that defense falls flat. He always has free will and despite being given every chance to turn away or chose a different path, he fails to do so. It doesn’t make his character particularly laudable or sympathetic. The relationship between Kitsune and his lover, Myobu, is a flash in the pan. They’re thrown together and it’s implied they care for one another, but it reads as a shrug. There’s no evolution to their romance or exploration of why they matter to one another. Like so many aspects of The King’s Sun, the relationship between Kitsune and Myobu is put on paper but never explored or given the literary support to become important.
The King’s Sun wanted desperately to be something… it just didn’t know what. The plot was clunky, the characters aren’t particularly likable or interesting, and the book just never manages to lift itself from the muddle of its own making. I’d have to recommend giving this one a pass.