Devlin’s entire life was turned upside down when he was plucked from the streets and chosen to serve as companion to the Prince and given the chance to become the Court Physician. He’s devoted himself to caring for the King and his son, but even he can’t save the King from death. When Prince Korgon ascends to the throne, a cunning enemy frames Devlin and casts a spell that convinces the Court that Devlin tried to steal the crown. Cast out and cut off, Devlin forgets his abilities as a powerful mage and takes up work outside royal influence.
When the new Court physician, Sir Eldrich, stumbles into Devlin’s shop, stabbed and bleeding, Devlin saves the man’s life and discovers King Korgon seems to be falling ill, just as his father before him. Eldrich suspects someone is poisoning the king and magic is involved. Eldrich and Devlin team up to save the King, but discover a far darker plot and, if they fail to stop their enemy, it could mean the world of the living is doomed.
The premise to The King’s Physician was intriguing enough to catch my eye and I was looking forward to the fantasy aspects. Unfortunately, the book is something of a tangled mess of poor pacing, boring characters, and a plot that became so complex it failed to make much sense.
We’re introduced to Devlin, one of the main characters, and he’s the only one with a significant backstory, though even that is lacking in depth. His ascension to success at Court is straightforward, despite being a rather tired plot device. He struck me as a decent man, trying to do his best for his adopted family and he’s easy to like as a result. He and Eldrich never develop beyond their rather superficial constructs though. They’re fine, but not particularly profound, and that can be applied to nearly every character in the book. After a fairly simple start, The King’s Physician becomes a gnarled mess of magic, magic healing balls, misunderstood elves, a cartoonish antagonist, and a plot to destroy the world. And none of it is done very well. The story is overly complex and characters that are critical to aspects of the action are introduced far too late or barely show up at all. I think part of the problem is that the world building reads as stiff and limited. We’re given enough to grasp the basics, but there’s big magical stuff proposed and not a lot of scaffolding to go with it. So it ends up adding to the chaos of the book rather than easing it.
The King’s Physician struggles with pacing almost from the outset. Periods of action are muted by conversations that end up info dumping and interactions between characters that read as mechanical and forced. There’s very little in The King’s Physician that flows naturally or develops the depth needed to counterbalance the pacing issues.
The King’s Physician had potential and the premise was interesting. But the plot and characters fail to impress while the pacing only worsens the situation. Unless you’re just a diehard fantasy fans, I’d have to recommend giving this one a pass.