The Grave Kingdom Book 1
By: Jeff Wheeler
Published on: March 1, 2020
Cover Designer: Shasti O’Leary Soudant
The Killing Fog is the first in a new Asian-inspired fantasy series by Jeff Wheeler. I’m ashamed to say I have seen his other works, but never got around to reading them even though they have been on my list for a while. So, I am very happy to be able to read this first one in his new series.
One of the main features fantasy readers always look to when attempting to decide if a book is right for them is in the world-building. In The Killing Fog, the world has associations called ensigns’, which are groups of trained warriors that can be hired for a variety of reasons. Magic is also in the world, but is never used as a first resort. Bingmei is part of an Kunmia’s ensign, an honorable ensign. The story truly begins when King Budei, one of their patrons, hires them to find an artifact at the Summer Palace. With fear of giving too much away the main story takes the reader to two different kingdoms as well as the Summer Palace, which is also called Fusang.
Although, I’m still not quite sure what to make of Bingmei’s personality, I can say for certain that I didn’t find her disagreeable, but I also didn’t find her shy or extroverted or anything particular memorable other than a special talent she has. She also has white hair – something she tries very hard to hide since her hair color is known to frighten people and make them uncomfortable. At the end of the book a very difficult decision is forced upon her and I suspect it will be her struggle with this decision that will begin to fully endear her to me.
Overall, I found the world-building easy to follow and never felt weighed down by too much being thrown at me. Lately I’ve been finding myself really enjoying the Asian-inspired fantasy novels that I’ve run across and this was no exception. At the same time, I did feel it lose just a little steam in a small portion of the book right before the climax began occurring. There was plenty going on at that moment so I’m not quite sure why I felt that way, but it occurred for me nevertheless. Even with this in mind, I definitely enjoyed the book and plan to pick up the next in the series.
Rating: 4 stars
Thanks to 47North and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.
Survivor of a combat school, the orphaned Bingmei belongs to a band of mercenaries employed by a local ruler. Now the nobleman, and collector of rare artifacts, has entrusted Bingmei and the skilled team with a treacherous assignment: brave the wilderness’s dangers to retrieve the treasures of a lost palace buried in a glacier valley. But upsetting its tombs has a price.
Echion, emperor of the Grave Kingdom, ruler of darkness, Dragon of Night, has long been entombed. Now Bingmei has unwittingly awakened him and is answerable to a legendary prophecy. Destroying the dark lord before he reclaims the kingdoms of the living is her inherited mission. Killing Bingmei before she fulfills it is Echion’s.
Thrust unprepared into the role of savior, urged on by a renegade prince, and possessing a magic that is her destiny, Bingmei knows what she must do. But what must she risk to honor her ancestors? Bingmei’s fateful choice is one that neither her friends nor her enemies can foretell, as Echion’s dark war for control unfolds.