In the second half of this duology, after The Queen of the Conquered, a revolution has swept through the islands of Hans Lollik and former slave Loren Jannik has been chosen to lead the survivors in a bid to free the islands forever.
This book is going to be a tough one for some people. For one thing, it doesn’t follow the same protagonist as the first book ... King of the Rising is also very heavy on description—Løren describing to the reader what he sees in other people’s memories or experiences through their kraft—and light on dialogue. The ending, while absolutely the right one for this story, will leave some readers feeling frustrated and unmoored. Western fiction readers are trained to expect a certain kind of ending from books like this, and Callender does an excellent job turning those expectations inside out. Personally, I loved all of these aspects. They were the best choice, craft-wise, for this story ... Kacen Callender has once again demonstrated why they are one of the best writers in the business. From middle grade to young adult to adult, they are somehow able to take stories I’ve seen before and tell them in wholly original and emotionally devastating ways. The Islands of Blood and Storm duology isn’t an easy series to read, but it’s a powerful one. It’ll sweep you away if you let it.
Led by characters that have their own agendas, this story goes in directions that may surprise readers, but the emotional impact will linger. Graphic action and violence; flawed protagonists; and a stark, storm-filled setting all combine into a riveting read ... The second half of this duology (after The Queen of the Conquered) is a powerful look at colonialism, oppression, and rebellion, and all that it can cost the individuals involved.
... an incredible ride ... presents readers with a fresh voice ... Callender skillfully portrays raw human emotion and psychology as devious, power-hungry leaders pit islanders against one another and Løren must decide if he should be the one to lead the islanders to true liberty, not just temporary freedom as a result of a disorganized rebellion. The urgency and stakes increase when the islanders learn of a traitor in their midst, and Callender’s penchant for crafting unconventional, fantastical mysteries shines as Løren, Sigourney and the other rebel leaders must choose where their loyalties lie. We also glean enticing and horrifying clues, as well as insight into deep personal and intergenerational trauma, through Callender’s implementation of flashbacks ... puts readers firmly into the minds of Callender’s unforgettable characters as it answers a spine-tingling set of questions: At the end of the war, who will survive and who will rule?