Prince Barodane could not hold back the darkness. Not even in himself. He laid an innocent city in its grave and then died a hero.
In his absence, war whispers across the land.
Power-hungry highborn dispatch spies and assassins to the shadows as they maneuver for the throne, while an even greater threat rises in the South. Monsters and cultists flock to the banners of a mad prophet determined to control reality…and then shatter it.
Destiny stalks three to the brink of oblivion.
A dead prince that isn’t actually dead. Barodane buried his shameful past in a stupor of drugs, drink, and crime, and now, he’d rather watch the world fall apart than wear a crown again.
An orphan with hero’s blood who is forced to make a harrowing choice: betray her country or sacrifice her first love.
And a powerful seer who has no choice at all–her grandson must die.
If any of them fails to pay the price…
The cost will be the world’s complete annihilation.
The Prince of Power is the first book on the eponymous epic grimdark fantasy series, written by Michael Michel, and which has been selected as a SPFBO9 semifinalist. A slow burn character driven story, which follows several POVs in a world full of political intrigues, war and intriguing magic.
Let's first talk a bit about the character work, as I think this is the major strength of this book; the four perspectives are quite intriguing, as Michel introduces what could be a clash between the origin of the characters and their current occupation. Each one of those has their own voice, making them easily recognisable just when we are a bit into the chapter.
All of them are quite complex, having to deal with the complications attached to the power they might have had at some point; and being honest, they are quite flawed. They could also be called morally grey, as we will become spectators of acts that are not for faint hearts.
Another aspect that I need to talk about is the world-building, as Michel slowly introduces a vast world, full of details and which is quite intriguing at many points. Small historical moments are introduced here and there; and honestly, it feels like an alive place. Some fantastical elements are not really explained, but that only adds to the mystery aura of the world.
Personally, I found the pacing to be a problem for me in this book. The plot is told in a slow-burn style, which leads to a big frenetic avalanche quite at the end; while I understand why this worked for other people, for me, it was a big miss. I felt that with a more even distribution of events, trimming down some fragments initially, but expanding the final 20% could have worked much better for me.
While this book was a miss for me, if you like epic grimdark stories, in the style of A Song of Ice and Fire, with morally grey characters, and don't mind a slow pacing, The Price of Power could be a great choice for you.
Since I was five-years-old, I’ve always loved the interplay between creators and their audiences. Saturday morning cartoons were a ritual for my brothers and I. Any skill I have for character development must certainly stem from my dedication to the X-Men animated series.
It wasn’t until 7th grade that I took up reading, and then subsequently writing, as an outlet for my wild imagination. While mowing the lawn of a family friend, I started spinning an entire world around the label, “Catastrophe knights,” which to a thirteen-year-old boy sounds very cool.
A decade later, I was lugging around a veritable vault of lists that catalogued character names, religions, governments, languages—everything a growing world needs to thrive. Yet, without some inward journeying, it would never see the light of day, nor the subsequent chopping block where most of it met its grisly fate.
Having gone through the rigors of a prestigious critique group for years as well as my own personal growth journey, I finally realized no one was going to write my book for me, and after twenty-two years of incubation, I completed my debut novel.
I haven’t looked back since.