The King is dead.
Long live the Kheld King.
The Triempery lies crippled, its godborn princes slaughtered by treachery, its ruling houses desperate to maintain their monopoly of the god-machine Entities. In the aftermath of the slaughter, Stefan Stauberg-Randolph inherits his grandfather’s throne. Already an outsider because of his Kheld heritage, Stefan sees enemies around every corner–but he particularly fears Dorilian Sordaneon, sole surviving heir of the Rill Entity’s power.
Set upon conflicting paths by betrayal and suspicion, the animosity between the two young rulers could well threaten not only the Triempery’s remaining houses, but the Entities themselves.
The Kheld King is the direct continuation of Sordaneon, the second installment of the epic fantasy series The Triempery Revelations, by the author L.L. Stephens and which has become one of my favourites without any doubts. L.L. Stephens has managed to continue blending high political plots with character extremely well developed, making The Kheld King an even more engaging book than Sordaneon, a task which seemed impossible.
This book continues after what happened at the Demise, following closely two of the main characters in our story, Dorilian and Stefan, and the conflict that has arisen between them. At the same time, new characters appear and are added to the plot, becoming another layer in the already complex situation, as is Nammour, the king of Mormantalorus and a new villain, because you know, the fire wasn’t burning enough.
Stefan’s situation becomes really difficult. Elevated as king of Essera by the Kheld, he is trying to deal with the numerous problem that appeared as a consequence of his conflict with Dorilian and Sordan; the pressure starts to affect him, having to deal with numerous problems that make him feel paranoid. Stability is lacking, forcing Stefan to only trust a few ones; taking decisions under this pressure certainly doesn’t lead to the best results, gaining more enemies in the process, and offending powers he can’t even comprehend. As a reader, even if Stefan is one of the antagonists of Dorilian, it is difficult to not empathize with him, especially when the puzzle starts to be solved.
On the other hand, we have Dorilian, trying to honour the promises he did to Marc Frederic, his spiritual father. The conflict with Stefan, and with Essera by extension, become one of his main concerns; without forgetting the difficulties he is experimenting after what happened in the Demise. At the same time, he’s struggling and trying to learn more about how to use his connection with the Rill; finding himself doubting many times, trying to drive himself in the best way possible for everybody. Nammour, the king of Mormantalorus, plots to assassinate Dorillian, provoking collateral damages in the process. We have a more mature Dorilian, a grown-up person after all that happened in Sordaneon, and that gets reflected in this novel.
The politics in the plot get more intricate and complex, as the conflict between nations has arisen; and even inside the nations, there are several groups fighting for power or to have their agenda fulfilled. The world gets even more developed, and we, as readers, get a glimpse into what’s lying in Triempery, what is really happening, and what’s the real scope of everything. We are not getting a single moment of rest, because in every single of the chapters the plot is advancing, and slowly but continuously, a big web of different people or powers trying to impose their is weaved, leading to an ending, that in retrospective, I should or might have expected but that once you are submerged, it impacts you super hard.
In definitive, The Kheld King takes all the elements that made great Sordaneon and expands them. A serious candidate to be my favourite book of 2022, a character-driven story with high stakes, with politics as the main focus of this fantasy. I loved it, and honestly, the time can’t pass fast enough to read The Second Stone, and continue The Triempery Revelations.
L.L. Stephens has always been passionate about writing and storytelling. They describe themself as a curious Author who loves exploring different themes and motifs. As part of their writing process, they love immersing themselves in their projects—diving headfirst into the research, production, and fine-tuning of the stories they feel are the most worthy of telling.