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Monday, 19 May 2014

The Four Kings by Scott Spotson

Title: The Four Kings
Author: Scott Spotson
Read Type: Indie Published

You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK and Amazon US

You can find out more about the author on his Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and his website

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Today's world - skyscrapers, Internet cafes, and all - is in great turmoil. Economic doldrums have seized the entire world in the last several years, and powerful nations such as Pakistan and India are just about to unleash nuclear might upon each other.  These troubled times have been labeled The Great Blight.

In response to the perceived failure of humanity to get its act together, powerful wizards have taken over the planet. In North America, four arrogant young wizards have set up a zone of governance for that continent. They unleash a harsh regime of "bread and circuses," vowing to drag Earth forward "kicking and screaming" in order to advance progress by "a hundred years," while at the same time thrilling the populace with their wizard games - the ultimate reality TV. Their appointed liaison to the humans, Amanda Fullerton, must soon decide which side of history she must support - or suffer the consequences.  In addition, her predicament is compounded when she falls in love with one of the governing wizards. 

Strong language: Some, mild
Drugs: None
Violence: Some, mainly comical
Sexual content: Some, mild

Please note the use of the term Bitcoins is in relations to a fictitious monetary source, and not affiliated or endorsing

I was gifted a free copy of this novel in return for an unbiased review.

Sunday progress
Monday debate day
Tuesday game
Wednesday progress
Thursday game
Friday petition
Saturday progress

Sunday—a Progress Day
Above I have listed the days of the week with what kind of day they were next to them. I liked this idea used in the story and wanted to incorporate it into my review. Each "day" will cover an aspect of the story.

This novel starts out slowly in the first few pages, just a normal presidential conference for a country obviously not doing so hot, then BANG, we have wizards! From there it swings into a faster-paced couple of chapters as they take over the government and all money production with the army trying to fight back.

At first the wizards came across brash and uncompromising, seeming to be the out and out bad guys of the novel—“Greetings, Mortals of North America. We are proud to be your Liberators. We are all now entering a new world order.”

Monday—a Debate Day
The theory of this novel, splitting the world into five segments to be ruled, removing government, and implementing their own currency (they used Bitcoins) was an interesting one. This was completely 180 degrees off of how most countries are currently run. As well as enjoying the story I was also curious as to how feasible it would be in real life.

One critical thing I think was missing was the response of the public. You have a "supreme liaison," a.k.a. Amanda, who is human, but otherwise you don't get to really see how the average Joe is coping. I'd particularly have like to see less tech savvy people trying to work out the Bitcoins for themselves as opposed to over-long explanations of the system.

Tuesday—a Game Day
The game days were more important to the wizards than some of the policies they had to deal with. It seemed games were a critical part of their lifestyle, but, rather than computer or board games, these were real life adventures where they couldn’t get killed. They were fun and interesting to read, generally a good light-hearted break from the realities or walking into the Oval Office and saying "We'll take over from here, thanks!"

Wednesday—a Progress Day
I think one of the biggest disconnects I had with this book, one that would come on strong in times of trouble, but then be forgotten for a while as things went smoothly, was the lack of insight into the average citizen. On Friday, a Petition Day, people had a chance to speak to the wizards directly, watched by the rest of the country on large screens that broadcast all of this. Yet most of these were people willing to take on supreme beings and confident, or desperate, enough in their cause to do this in front of the millions in the nation. Therefore these were not John and Jill Doe with 3 kid speaking out.

This meant that you thought in some places things were going differently than how they actually were. All you had to go on was the wizards, one human who had hundreds of employees to help her organise data and forms that had been filled in, truthfully or not, by the general public. In the first half of the book, only the occasional meetings with her family enlightened you to how things really were on the ground.

Thursday—a Game Day
I don't think there's really anything to say about game days except I wish school Physical Education was more like that!

Instead I want to talk about the two male wizards, Regi and Demus, who both formed attachments to Amanda, who became an increasingly important role as the story went on. They were a fun break, and often took her on days out, such as swimming with dolphins, then relaxing on a desert island…or if you prefer, the moon! These scenes were written really well, I wanted to be out there.

Friday—a Petition Day
As I already mentioned, petition days are days where the public got a chance to speak up for themselves. I liked these days, it showed many sides to the upper classes, although the general population had far less to add. I particularly liked the debates with Professors, something I thought would be tedious filler. They covered many aspects of government, but in a way the standard reader would follow, and using many quotes. I spoke to the author, as I am English so not ingrained with American politics, and was impressed to find that all the quotes, up to the take over anyway, were real. That's a lot of research!

Saturday—a Progress Day
I felt overall the plot of this novel moved at a good clip with plenty of twists, turns, double agents, and red herrings to keep me guessing. The writing itself got bogged down occasionally in history or debates, but overall was an easy read, with the first few chapters being the hardest to acclimatise to—but well worth it.

The ending was left fairly open, and I think the author should progress to a sequel!

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