Book Review: The Onyx Crown by Alan Hurst @AlanHurstJr #fantasy #Africa

An exciting tale of a crown being reclaimed!

Genre: Fantasy
Bookxpert Rating: 4.2/5

A huge thank you to the author, Alan Hurst for sending me a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review. The Goodreads reviews and the blurb had me pretty excited to read it. And boy- what a read it was. So without further ado, let’s get cracking.

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BOOK BLURB

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated.
They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?


MY REVIEW

First of all, the fact that this book is about a crown made of onyx is SO cool. I mean, we hear of gold ones and jewelled ones all the time, but an onyx one, now that’s something different!

Right from the first page, it gave off an Avatar like vibe to me(the movie Avatar), what with hunter parties, beasts and magic- I don’t know why but I imagined them as thsoe blue-green Avatar character hunters.
(Alan thinks of the book as a cross between Black Panther and Game of Thrones, I haven’t watched those, but GOT fans alert!).

The Onyx Crown hits the gound running from the start, and is relentless right till the last page. The story keeps picking pace, and it isn’t like the Alan has sacrificed details for it, since it is very detailed. A very lucid picture was being drawn in my mind’s eye as the book progressed, some of which I would have drawn if I was any good at drawing!

We have three young sensational children- Sania, Gesemni and Jorann, and it is up to them to take back their kingdom from the usurpers. It is difficult to explain this if you haven’t read the book, but each of them has been associated with an element of feeling. Their natures are in line with their own element.
Naughty and bubbly Sania, all of thirteen, is already a prodigy in warfare tactics and fighting. I liked her character best.
Gesemni has led a difficult slave life, but is already better than experienced warriors- with some training.
Jorann on his part, is a master at handling difficult situations tactfully. He can regulate his body functions at will- breath, thirst, hunger, the vital ones; with very little training.

What makes these three different from other children?
How DID they get so good at stuff ordinary people wouldn’t achieve in a lifetime?

There are many scenes featuring swords, bows, daggers. Also, fighting using the above three. The author needs to be commended for his research on ancient African weapons and their usage. The fighting scenes are so well described, I read some of them three or four times- they were so good.Sample this-

One of the more cowardly men, armored from the chest down with some sort of heavy chainmail(almost unheard of in the humidity and heat of this region) and armed with a peculiarly altered black reed, noticed the boy being distracted by more men posturing for position.
He used the opportunity to launch a couple of very small darts that had been tipped with a kind of foreign substance. This action was against the rules of conventional combat of the time, as they were all fighting in close quarters. To use projectiles of this sort was seen as the most nemaah of tactics.
Derisively, the boy turned to the sounds of the darts being thrown and sneered. “You seem to have dropped your projectiles. I’ll return them to you.” He waved one ragged sleeve in the direction of the darts, and almost inperceptibly, the darts flicked back to their original owner.
“Sorcery!” exclaimed several of the hooligans in the tavern as the darts hit their owner.
That unfortunate coward instantly froze, his entire face turning a very dark shade of green. He appeared to try to speak, but no words were audible, and in seconds, he had stopped moving altogether.

Plot is excellent. I absolutely love where the story is headed, the second part is still in editing phase, but the first part has me totally excited for it. I can’t wait to see where this goes and how the story unfolds.

On the cons side- since there are so many characters and so much happening, it got confusing at times. I had to go back and check in to earlier pages, to remember details. I also felt like the ending of the first book was quite abrupt.

Overall, I think this trilogy is going to be one hell of a roller-coaster ride, from the looks of The Onyx Crown, and MAN how I love roller-coasters!

About the Author:

Alan Hurst has been a fantasy fiction enthusiast since his first reading of J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” at age nine. He considers legendary wuxia authors Gu Long and Jin Yong as his biggest influences. Mr. Hurst began writing The Onyx Crown in 2014, after noticing a lack of Pan-African themes in medieval fiction. Additionally, he wanted to create ethnic fiction that could be embraced by all descendants of the African Diaspora. He currently resides with his family in Maryland, USA.

Connect with Alan here-
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What’s good:

  1. The idea of a crown of Onyx!
  2. The stellar plot.
  3. The fighting scenes’ description.
  4. Character description.

What could have been:

  1. Too many characters made it confusing at times.
  2. Abrupt ending.

Other Stuff :

The Title:- The Onyx Crown- King Toloron’s symbol, whose throne was usurped. This trilogy is about taking the throne(and the crown) back to Toloron’s rightful heir.

Best Line :-

You sound so certain, thought Jorann. What if we fail?

Genre :- Fantasy
Final Thoughts :- For fantasy junkies, absolute must-read!
Up Next :- ‘Song for A Lost Kingdom II’ by Steve Moretti

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