The Imposter King (The Imposter King #1), by Eli Hinze
To thwart a curse, a fake king enters a fake marriage—but his sacrificial death will be all too real.
As the king of Sippar, Ahsan is surrounded by unparalleled luxury, fawning attendants, and a gorgeous wife. It’s the life he’s always dreamed of, except for three small problems.
One, the palace oracle foretells of a threat that could leave the king dead and the city in ruins.
Two, his marriage to the sharp-tongued priestess Nirah is already in trouble–and they aren’t even really married.
Three, Ahsan is not the real king, but a criminal condemned to die in his place. Selected for the role of imposter king, Ahsan must take the fates’ wrath and assassins’ knives upon himself… and while his crown may be fake, the danger he faces is all too real.
A self-proclaimed coward cursed with a monster living in his skin, Ahsan wants nothing more than to escape the deadly intrigue of Sippar’s royal court. But if he doesn’t stop the king’s would-be killer, it won’t just be one man dead, it will be everyone Ahsan knows and loves—including the pretended queen he might just be coming to care for.
An ancient fantasy novel, The Imposter King is the first in a richly imagined five-book series spanning empires and eons, myths and monsters. Get your copy to begin the adventure today.
My Review (4.5 out of 5 )
"Ahsan would find no help here. Not in this home, not in this city, not even from the distant gods themselves. They would all bleed him dry.
Well, it was certainly home."
The Imposter King marks the start of a new historical fantasy series, written by Eli Hinze. And honestly, it's such an original proposal, exploring one of the historical periods that despite being one of the most influential in civilization development tends to be ignored by fiction authors, Mesopotamia. And honestly, with this kind of premise, I couldn't resist the opportunity of reading it.
Our main character, Ashan, gets requested by her family to return to the city of Sippar, despite the lack of connection he has experienced since he moved. As apparently, it is something urgent, he travels there, only to find that he's sentenced to execution due to a mistake made by his father (showing the application of talion law, as it is collected in Hammurabi's code).
But hope is not immediately lost, as he gets offered to assume the position of king, as imposter king, because a big danger to the life of real Sippar's king has been foreseen. Having to choose between an immediate death or delaying it by a month, Ashan doesn't really have an election.
"The flat-bottomed river boats that bobbed along the Tigris and Euphrates would do well enough.
It was in a port crisp with sea breeze, with waters like uncut jade, that a messenger had come to him bearing a letter demanding his return to Sippar."
Forced into assuming this position, we are able to see how Ashan deals with the situation, and how the palace is working collectively in making this farce as credible as possible. Apart from Ashan, an imposter queen gets also recruited to fulfill this paper, Nirah; a skeptical priestess whose sharp tongue has put into problems before.
Ashan is a really interesting character. Despite this being a relatively short book, we get to know him deeply; how he's struggling with the perspective of dying, even in the case of fulfilling the paper as imposter king. While in his mind appears the possibility of just escaping the palace, he soon gets to realize that the death of the real king might be a real disaster for the whole city, bringing destruction to the people he cares about. Accepting such a fate as death will create an even greater internal conflict inside him.
Nirah is another of those characters that quickly takes your attention, becoming memorable due to his position in several things and how sincere she becomes sometimes. Her appreciation for Ashan grows with time, especially after she realizes that Ashan is actually a good man.
The setting for this story is outstanding, exploring a historical period as is Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization. Hinze has done an excellent job portraying those small details that help transmit verisimilitude and that transports you into the city of Sippah. We get to observe religious rituals, law applications, and even how the meals were at that point.
Combine this with a writing style that allows you to get vivid images of the setting, and certainly, you could be walking through Sippah's streets.
In summary, The Imposter King is an excellent historical fantasy story, that transports us to one of those unexplored periods; and for sure this book will be perfect for those lovers of historical fantasy. I would also recommend it to people that are looking for new settings and proposals, as Mesopotamia is rather unexplored. Honestly, I can't wait to see what more Hinze has in the sleeve for us!
Eli Hinze is a writer with an interest in ancient history and myths, particularly when combined with the fantastical. She's lived in China for a time, fought in tournaments, wrangled various farm animals, and worked in tech, but is happiest in life as an author.
When not writing, Eli likes to spend time with her husband, draw, watch documentaries, cook/bake, and make friends with animals. If you’d like a free book, bonus content, or to stay up-to-date with her newest releases, you can connect with her on social media @EliHinze or sign up for her newsletter.
Eli Hinze is the author of The Imposter King series and the Queen of Shades series, as well as the standalone books Death of an Immortal and Stolen Sun. Her latest work, The Wretched Spy (book #2 of The Imposter King series), will release in early 2023.