Kalanon's Rising (Agents of Kalanon #1) by Darian Smith - Book Review

Write on: Wed, 27 May 2020 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 3562

Kalanon's Rising was one of the finalists of SPFBO 2019, and the premise of magical murders mystery caught my eye.

What to expect

The murder of the king's nephew (and presumptive heir) is guaranteed to draw attention. The King's Champion, a current physician and previous war leader, is tasked with finding the murderer and resolving what promises to be a highly political crime.

Together with a few unlikely helpers, Sir Brannon must navigate a world where mages draw on spirits from other worlds and animate the dead, where everyone has secrets and a single mistake would see the spark of a war that would tear his country apart.

What I liked

Smith gives us a fast moving plot and an interesting magic system. I enjoyed Brannon working to solve the murder, with the occasional detour to other points of view. I enjoyed learning about the world and its interesting mechanics.

What to be aware of

One of the most immediate things I noticed was the language. To me, it felt too modern for a non-contemporary setting. That also applies to some of the concepts that the characters bandy about, which seem anachronistic. Still, this would likely appeal to any fans of the CSI shows. 

Felix's Review

Felix found the mystery part a bit predictable, without any major twists. He also had some questions about the interactions and choices of a few of the characters: he'll fully stand behind the intrigue and scheming, but found those on a personal level of some of the side characters stretching his credulity.


It's an interesting work, with a lot of promise. Though I feel it could have been much more, that could be down to personal tastes. I'd recommend it if you like epic-ish fantasy adventures and crime shows.

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 May 2020 05:26

Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.



Twitter: @assaphmehr