The Kings’ Assassin

Ed Cannon

Publisher: Xlibris Pages: 454 Price: (paperback) $23.99 ISBN: 9781984511683 Reviewed: May, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Ed Cannon fuses equal parts magic, murder mystery and thriller in this sprawling tale combining old-fashioned whodunit tension with the complex worldbuilding of the best epic fantasy.

Prince Sillik returns to Illicia—the city that has ruled “the known world” for centuries— after being gone seven years, only to find his father, King Saldor, murdered and the future of the realm in chaos. Other claimants to the throne have likewise been killed, and even Sillik’s life is in immediate peril, as unknown assailants have cast a fatal spell on the throne itself. Suddenly, the wayward prince finds himself in the middle of violent court politics, with his status as skilled wizard and wielder of black magic his only defenses.

Sillik must follow cryptic clues left by his father to find conspirators and uncover plots. Meanwhile, his trusted advisor, the Swordmaster of Ilicia, Briana, tries to keep the realm out of the hands of evil forces. Lady Silvia, one of the Seven Gods of Law, is also closely involved in the struggle.

Pursuing his mission, Sillik abandons the shelter of Illicia to explore a fantastical landscape of untamed wilds and haunted cities, battling monsters and wielding magic forces along the way.

Cannon establishes a realistic, complex fictional environment. The novel’s first stretch is packed with worldbuilding, with royal intrigue that’s tense and complex enough for a Shakespearean tragedy. It’s clear that Cannon is well steeped in the fantasy genre; the story incorporates all the magic, mayhem and monsters one would expect, as well as plot elements echoing sources ranging from Tolkien to Dungeons and Dragons.

The narrative’s structure is dense; casual readers may have to work to fully integrate themselves into Cannon’s imagined world. But the author’s commitment to story is impressive, and amidst all the wizards, swordmasters and monsters, the core mystery will keep readers turning pages.

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