Book Review: Lioness of Kell by Paul E. Horsman

lioness_ebookTitle: Lioness of Kell

Author: Paul E. Horsman

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

The lioness Maud is at eighteen already a black powerhouse of brawn. When she is ordered to fetch a young thief from a pirate town, she thinks it an easy task. Until she and Jurgis the thief find themselves running for their lives.

Young warlock Basil sees his life threatened by a summons from the Warlockry Council, to prove his beauty. He knows his lame foot will betray him and escapes on the first ship out of town. On board he meets Yarwan, a handsome midshipman, who awakens feelings he never knew existed.

When the four young people meet, Basil learns of a spell that could repair his foot. Only the spell’s creator, the infamous Black Warlock, disappeared nearly a century ago. As the four decide to go looking for him, they start on a path leading to an old war and unsolved mysteries that will change their world. Or kill them.

I have to applaud Lioness of Kell for having one of the most diverse casts I’ve ever come across in a fantasy book. Often, fantasy novelists stay stuck in the typical fantasy set-ups, as if there are no disabled people or people of color in fantasy settings, and if they are, they only get to play a minor role. Here we see a female person of color in the role of the protagonist, and instead of jumping to stereotypes, Maud is realistic, genuine, a regular person, with flaws and troubles. She’s part of a society of strong warrior women. Think of what it would be like if Xena, Warrior Princess joined a group of other Xena-like women. It works well, and it adds a lot of extra layers to the plot. While strong and independent, Maud faces issues too. She’s still only eighteen, and she acts like a teenager sometimes, which I enjoyed and thought made her seem more realistic.

The pages are filled with a great cast of varied characters, and they really make the plot come alive. One of my favorites was Basil. I liked his wit and humor. But really, all characters are three-dimensional, come with a back story, and each brings something interesting to the plot.

The fantasy setting is amazing, adding in so many original elements. The author obviously spent a lot of time building this fantasy world, and it shows in its rich details.

Fantasy fans who enjoy great world-building and a diverse cast of characters, will definitely enjoy this book.

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