The Ippos King
by Grace DravenThe Ippos King is book three in the Wraith Kings series, and as such is best enjoyed as part of the series rather than as a standalone novel. It's told from the dual points of view of Serovek, a margrave and former Wraith King, and sha-Anhuset, a formidable Kai warrior and cousin to King Brishen.
The action kicks off with a letter asking for the still-living body of the monk, Megiddo, to be returned to the order of monks that he belonged to, the Jeden. Megiddo made a great sacrifice during the war with the demonic galla, and his soul is in torment elsewhere. Now the galla have been banished and peace seems to reign, but something isn't quite right. Serovek is consumed by guilt, and plagued by nightmares about what happened to the monk, which he suspects are more than mere dreams. Although the world is supposed to be drained of its magic, traces of it seem to shimmer around the monk at times, and in the eyes of the former Wraith Kings.
A small armed escort take on the quest to return the monk to his homeland, a long journey with Adventure written all over it, promising dangers, pitfalls, and twists as they escort their precious cargo.
Serovek is increasingly interested in Anhuset, perhaps even besotted, and has made this clear to her in earlier novels. Anhuset doesn't feel the same, at least not to begin with, and considers him ugly as well as a bit of a player. He is after all a mere human, and not even quite the same species as the grey-skinned Kai with their pointy teeth and clawed fingernails. Anhuset is a serious, intense warrior woman of few words, most of them blunt. They don't seem like an obvious couple. While Serovek is also a fighter, he's much more personable and outgoing, keen to tease and crack jokes whenever he can. So there's lively dialogue between them, while Anhuset tries to figure out whether he is serious about her or simply toying with her.
This novel is fairly long, and keeps an even balance between the romantic plot and the fantasy adventure side of the story. The start is a little slow, but when the journey is fully underway things heat up and the pace gallops through violent intrigues, mysteries and showdowns.
There's a satisfying end to this novel, which delivers all of the feelings you might want to experience in this genre of fantasy romance: excitement, poignancy, edge-of-the-seat thrills, curiosity, heartwarming moments, and of course hot intimate scenes. However, this novel doesn't clear up a few fundamental questions about why the world of the Wraith Kings is as it is. In some fictional universes, magic simply exists. Yet here there are some hints that the causes of the wars in the earlier books, and of the magic that was once abundant and has now left the world, will be explained in more detail in the next novel. Based on how enjoyable this part of the series is, I'll be there for it.
13th February 2022
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: own copy