When Prince Valamon is impossibly taken from the heart of Algaris Castle, the only clue as to motive or culprit is the use of unknown sorcery.
Reclusive cleric Seris is happily tending to his book-infested temple when he finds himself recruited to the politically compromised rescue mission. His sole companion on the journey is Elhan, a cheerfully disturbed vagrant girl with terrifying combat skills and her own enigmatic reasons for seeking the prince.
Venturing into the wild, unconquered lands, Seris has no fighting prowess, no survival skills, and no charisma, as Elhan keeps pointing out. Armed only with a stubborn streak and creative diplomacy, he must find a way to survive outlaw towns, enchanted tropical isles, and incendiary masquerades, all without breaking his vow to do no harm.
Chasing rumours of rising warlords and the return of the vanished sorcerers, Seris and Elhan soon discover a web of treachery and long-buried secrets that go far beyond a kidnapped prince.
As enemies rise from beyond the empire and within it, Seris and Elhan realise that the key to saving Valamon and averting a war may lie in their own bloody pasts, and the fate of their fragile friendship.
DK Mok is a fantasy and science fiction author whose novels include Squid's Grief, Hunt for Valamon, and The Other Tree. DK has been shortlisted for seven Aurealis Awards, three Ditmars, and two Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Awards.
DK grew up in libraries, immersed in lost cities and fantastic worlds populated by quirky bandits and giant squid. DK is based in Australia, and her favourite fossil deposit is the Burgess Shale.
The Prince Valamon has been kidnapped from his room in Algaris Castle. Whoever committed the kidnapping used magic. Valamon's brother, Prince Falon, sends an unlikely pair to rescue Valamon, Seris a healing cleric and Elhan a cursed girl. During their search for the prince, Seris and Elhan realize that a missing prince isn't the Empire's biggest problem. A war is coming.
Hunt for Valamon is a sort of twisted fairy tale. Lightly twisted, but largely still in a Disney style. Everything was overly neat and taken care of nicely. The twist occurs in that the main protagonists aren't a knight and a princess, but rather a healing cleric Seris and a cursed girl Elhan. The two of them have a peculiar quest due to the fact that Seris isn't particularly useful for anything other than healing. While Elhan better known as the Kali-Adelsa, the accursed one, has a different problem. Her curse leaves a trail of destruction in her wake.
The main characters Seris and Elhan are easily the strongest part of Hunt for Valamon. Seris is the most sane cleric of Eliantora, which isn't saying much as there are only three clerics. It seems being a cleric of Eliantora effects one's sanity over time. Eliantora has a number of odd demands in order to receive her healing power, such as the fact that her clerics can't carry money. Seris mainly stays in the temple and away from people who don't need to be healed.
Elhan on the other hand has quite the personality due to her curse. She can't stay any one place for long as anyone she stays near and any place she stays for long is in danger due to her curse. Elhan is self-reliant and sarcastic yet surprisingly positive despite the fact everyone hates her and many try to kill her.
Hunt for Valamon is a solid story, but one that doesn't do anything particularly special or interesting.
Crown Prince Valamon was never intended to be the next king. In court, he is considered slow, shallow and strange. But when Valamon is unexpectedly kidnapped, Seris the cleric and Elhan are recruited by Valamon's brother, Falon, to go find him. But Elhan isn't who everyone thinks she is. She's the Kali-Adelsa, a cursed girl that brings the promise of destruction where ever she goes and is constantly on the run from enemies that threaten to kill her. Together, they have to combine their forces to free the lost prince, but it might be too late... Will they be able to save him?
~~~Contains mini spoilers~~~
The intricate plot was the best part of the book. It was very very well written and had many layers to it. The characters were great. Absolutely loved them. Elhan is so badass and awesome even though she has her insecurities. Seris is a really great guy and cares for everyone. He always thinks the best about everyone. Valamon wasn't as stupid as everyone thought. I mean, he did manage to escape from the prison three times. Haska is also very well-developed. She was very elaborate character with different faces.
It was a very fun book. Very centered on the political aspect, but it didn't make it any less enjoyable. I think that I just wished for a little more...spectacular ending. Other than that, it's pretty good.
Hunt for Valamon was recommended to me by a friend, and it is the first novel I’ve ever read from Australian fantasy author D.K. Mok. I didn’t know much about the book when I picked it up so I had no idea what to expect, but I have to say, I came out of it feeling quite impressed.
Valamon is the oldest son of King Delmar but was never meant to inherit the throne, due to the fact most people consider him to be a simpleton. However, that doesn’t stop all hell from breaking loose when the prince is kidnapped, sparking a frantic search for a noble champion to help rescue him. They end up with Elhan, a spirited and strong young woman whose skills are unparalleled when it comes to the deadly arts of combat. Unfortunately, she’s also cursed and very likely insane.
As if that weren’t enough, accompanying Elhan on the quest to find Valamon is Seris, a humble priest and healer with absolutely no fighting or survival skills whatsoever. Oh, and he’s also hindered by a ton of ridiculous rules imposed on him by his religious order. Despite being polar opposites, Seris and Elhan must nonetheless learn to cooperate as they set out together for the wilderness, embarking on a long and unpredictable journey to bring home a lost prince and prevent a bloody war.
It’s probably safe to categorize this novel as epic fantasy, but I was also pleasantly surprised to discover how different it felt from most books in that subgenre. The language is perhaps the most obvious thing that sets it apart. At times the narrative will feel decidedly modern, and characters will frequently use phrases and terms common in our everyday parlance. It is completely at odds with the fantasy setting, but there’s also no doubt at all this was done intentionally. The stylistic choice might not be for everyone, that’s true; but it does mean a lot of opportunities for humor, more so than you would find in other high fantasy works. So if you like a funny side to your epic fantasy, this just might be the book for you.
The characters are another factor which makes this book so enjoyable. Seris and Elhan are the main focus of the story, of course. Friendship eventually blossoms between them, but their differences in the beginning are marked by clashes and thorny interactions, giving rise to no small number of amusing scenes. But Valamon, the kidnapped prince and objective of their quest, is also a point-of-view character whose perspective adds much to the tale. It is interesting to me that Valamon’s personality and demeanor, along with how others in the book see him, strongly suggests Asperger’s or a similar kind of autism spectrum disorder, and one of the major themes is how everyone feels he is unfit to rule when in reality, the troubled prince is actually much wiser and more perceptive than he lets on.
Other side characters include Valamon’s younger brother Falon, who is the one actually being groomed to rule, as well as Qara, the princes’ childhood playmate who grew up to become a royal confidante and protector. The so-called villains of the novel, the ones who stole Valamon away, also played a big role. The tension created by this balance in perspectives was a good way to show all sides of the conflict and make the book exciting. The story was reasonably well-paced and quite engaging.
The plot and dialogue could probably benefit from a bit of fine polishing, but otherwise I thought this was a fun read that offered quite a few surprises. Hunt for Valamon is refreshing and unique, highly recommended for fantasy readers looking for an adventurous journey. I had a lovely time with D.K. Mok’s humorous and down-to-earth style. It’s also worth mentioning that this was my first introduction Spence City Books and it is great being able to put both a new author and an independent publisher on my list to check out in the future.
Every now and again an author blows me away. It doesn't happen often, but I can distinctly remember instances in the past when it has. Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself, GRRM's A Game of Thrones and Kameron Hurley's The Mirror Empire all feature in prominently in my memory. And now I can add DK Mok's Hunt for Valamon to that list. Recommended to me by author Mitchell Hogan (whose work is also amazing), I approached Hunt for Valamon with much excitement and some trepidation. Would I love it? Did Mitchell steer me up the wrong tree in his recommendation? Would I have to write a poor review for a book that failed to meet my expectations? Well, I am glad to report that I did love it, and that I now believe Mok is going to be one of the next big things in Australian speculative fiction.
Hunt for Valamon tells the tale of Valamon, the Crown Prince of the Talgaran Empire. Considered by many to be a simpleton, he is deemed unfit to rule despite being the oldest son of King Delmar. When he is suddenly kidnapped by unknown forces the realm puts together a rescue effort made up of Elhan, a woman whose fighting skills are unparalleled, and Seris, a priest whose healing art is hindered by the rules imposed on him by his religious order. These two champions must work together and reconcile their differences if they are to rescue the Crown Prince, and in doing so prevent a bloody and violent war from breaking out.
Hunt for Valamon is an original, fast paced and fascinating tale that kept me riveted from start to finish. One of the first things I noticed when reading Hunt for Valamon was just how tight and enthralling the plot was. Mok brilliantly uses different points of view to add meat to the bone, and I loved how my perception of characters was turned on its head as the story unfolded. The idea of a quest fantasy is not new, but Mok uses it in such a way that it felt both fresh and yet wonderfully familiar. In fact, the more I read the more I became convinced that I was reading something very special. The story just got better and better, and at no stage did I feel any lull.
Mok's characterisation is also top notch, and her ability to grab me emotionally and keep me glued to the tale reminded me of when I first read Robin Hobb many years ago. I fell in love with Elhan and Seris, and their changing relationship was one of the highlights of this book. I also adored the evolution and mystery that surrounded Valamon, and his point of view chapters raised many questions about him and how people perceived him. I also was amazed at how Mok was able to make me feel many different emotions at different stages throughout the story. This is actually harder then it sounds, and most writers cannot pull it off. Mok kept me so emotionally involved in the story via her characters that at times I literally felt like I was there participating in the events being played out on the pages before me. Even her minor characters were fascinating and had an impact on both the story and me as the reader.
Hunt for Valamon also incorporates cracking action that is both well described and choreographed. I loved the fight scenes, and I thought they added a real layer of excitement to the story. The world building is solid and familiar (medieval fantasy setting) with a tinge of modernism via Mok's use of language and humour. I personally loved this, but some readers may prefer more traditional language. The conclusion to Hunt for Valamon was also very satisfying and surprising, and readers will be left happy yet yearning for more.
If I had one small criticism it would be that I wanted a map to reference all of the destinations that were described in the book. I am a map geek, and I feel this would have added another amazing layer to an already stunning book.
All in all Mok has stormed onto speculative fiction scene with Hunt for Valamon. It is hard to believe that this is just her second book (her first being The Other Tree). Hunt for Valamon is an amazing, refreshing yet familiar fantasy quest that left me floored and wanting more. I am now a converted Mokian (yeah that's right, all of you Whovians, Trekkers, etc... Mokians are a rising force!) who cannot wait for her next release. I highly recommend Hunt for Valamon for anyone even remotely interested in speculative fiction. It is truly something special.
So this book was a nice surprise! I was reading through my kindle samples, thinning them down into ‘won’t ever read, and will eventually read’ (basically procrastinating my blind-date book) when this book happened. This ended up a ‘straight to amazon to buy it read’.
Things I loved about it were:
The cover- I'm a cover shopper, so when this popped up on my 'you may like' on amazon, I had to have a look and save a sample. Such a beautiful cover must have a great book inside! Right? Happily, this is one of the (very few) times that has actually worked out to be true.
Witty humor- Some of the humor was a bit darker, which is probably why I loved it so much. Also it was well done in the fact that it wasn’t over-done.
And action- No boring meals on the side of the road, as our main two trekked from one side of the country to the other, searching for clues to the whereabouts of the missing prince.
Great characters- seriously there wasn’t a one person that I didn’t have some sympathy for, or understanding of their actions. Lots of great women characters too. In my opinion other than Seris and Valamon, the women stole the book. Elhan, Haska, Qara- all amazing. And even better; amazing because they weren’t ‘look at me, I’m a woman playing with swords’ characters.
A good plot- This sounded like a straight forward hunt for a kidnapped prince, but becomes a lot more complex than kidnapping, and good and bad.
Easy to read- While this is a fantasy setting, the language feels modern. I appreciated how this choice made it easy to dive right into the story and characters and just enjoy the read.
Now, I’m not saying this book was perfect in every way. There may have been the odd things that I didn’t like, and I did think things tied up just a little bit too neatly in the end. But these things were so minor, and my last star is always about if I enjoyed the book on the whole enough to overlook the minor things. In this case that is a definite, yes.
An original, and satisfying story. I recommend it to anyone who wants something a little different from the usual epic fantasy.
There were some things I loved about this book, and some things I didn't like.
I loved the complexity of the story and how it really managed to surprise me a few times. I loved how there is no clear good or evil: there are many more sides, and all of them are simply doing what they think is best. I also liked that much of the backstory is never really explained, merely hinted at so you can figure it out for yourself.
Things I liked less were mostly in the writing style. It's good, but now and then things are explained too much, like when someone's tone of voice is carefully described despite being already very clear from the words they said. Names are repeated a lot where he/she or something descriptive could have made for a more varied text. And sometimes a joke seems out of place or even tasteless in a serious situation. I also wasn't too fond of the ending. I don't mind happy endings, but this one was a bit too happily-ever-after for absolutely everyone involved.
Still, I liked the plot overall and I will probably read her next book too.
Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher for review.
Mok starts the story with the drama of abduction and proceeds with a story filled with the threat of war and a complex web of armies, revenge, ancient curses, and a fight for a kingdom. With varying points of views each character’s voice can be heard, which is a great opportunity to see things from multiple sides and makes for a more rounded story. There is humour in the story, it is never over the top and it is sprinkled throughout to make it seem natural, always managing to bring a slight smile to your face.
When Valamon is abducted, a cleric called Seris and tournament champion the feared Kali-Adelsa are sent to discover who has taken him and bring him back. It’s an unlikely pairing with Seris and the Kali-Adelsa, named Elhan, but it works, and they both bring something to their mission. Seris is inexperienced but he has compassion and a useful skill set, and his honesty and nature is rather charming. He is a likeable character and while there is no one character that you noticeably dislike more than others, Seris was one who is hard not to enjoy. Elhan, on the other hand, is tough and skilled in fighting, but she is also weighed down by having to deal with the curse placed upon her and having death and destruction follow her around. She is not dislikeable though she does take a while to grow on you, but once you understand her more she is much more appealing. The curse makes her fierce and feared but teamed with Seris she learns to control herself and realises she is not the monster she has always thought herself to be.
Mok’s writing captures the sense of a quest and the world she’s created is intriguing and detailed. Seris and Elhan meet a range of characters on their hunt for Valamon and their journey covers much of the land which allows a great sense of the world to be discovered. This also introduces a range of characters and Mok makes an effort to ensure their voices are distinguishable and unique. Each character has their own voice and the dialogue suits them well, aiding their representation and helps understand who they are.
The story has nice surprises that are unexpected and helpful without being too grand. These little surprises perk up the story without being large twists and shocking revelations but still work extremely well and fit naturally into the narrative. There is also a political nature to this story but the fantasy component and clever writing balances this well and while it is a major feature it doesn’t feel too heavy handed.
As you read there is not a feeling of build up or anticipation per se, but the journey and quest to find Valamon is enjoyable and the looming threat of war ends with an action-packed conclusion. Mok does not rush the ending but brings it steadily to a close, making sure everything is explained adequately and the novel ends nicely leaving no questions unanswered. Overall this is an interesting story set in an intriguing world and one that is humorous, well thought out, and enjoyable.
~I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest and fair review via fantasybookreview.co.uk~
The Hunt for Valamon was a hilarious and endearing fantasy to read. Mok blends humor and gravity together magnificently, in a way that reminds me of the Diskworld series by Terry Pratchett. It’s lighthearted but not so lighthearted that its lacking drama to push the plot along.
Prince Valamon has been kidnapped, and Seris and Elhan (also known as the Kali-Adelsa, the girl cursed to bring about the destruction of the empire) are charged with the task of rescuing him. The novel alternates between Lord Qara and Prince Falon, Valamon and Lord Haska, and Elhan and Seris, each point of view adding greatly to the story. I thought the characterization of Prince Valamon was such a change from typical princes in high fantasy, and I can tell that this novel will definitely stay with me for a while. I read this after finishing my final exams, and it didn’t overload my mind with anything that seemed unnecessary to the plot. It was straightforward and unabashedly accentuated what made it different from other high fantasies. There was no love story, save for one of friendship and familial love, and the hero was a girl cursed with destruction. I can safely say that this is one of my favorite stand alone fantasy novels, and that I definitely recommend it to everyone who enjoys fantasy.
Anyone familiar with DK Mok’s writing would be aware that she loves to subvert a good fantasy stereotype. Hunt for Valamon, her second novel, is no exception.
Here are some examples of what I mean. Valamon – the abducted prince from the title – is woefully inept to be the heir of the all-conquering Talgaran Empire. His younger brother, Falon, is far more fit to rule, but chafes at the unrelenting tide of paperwork involved. Seris is a cleric of Eliantora, which means he has some skills at healing, although unfortunately for Seris, they don’t work on his own person. And Elhan has a sorcerer-sized chip on her shoulder, which manifests itself as a particularly nasty curse that results in a lot of random destruction, not that Seris is willing to abandon her in the interests of self-preservation. Throw in a revolution organised by a particularly put out warlord, lots of near misses and some fairly unexpected romances (all handled with a feather-light touch) and I think you’ll agree this is not fantasy as you know it.
The prose is deft, the pacing just right and the quirkiness is amped up to the max. If you’re a bit tired of teetering epics or overly grim fantasies where nobody comes out unscathed, give this one a try.
I decided to give Hunt for Valamon a try after being blown away by a DK Mok short story that I’d read in an anthology (Under the Full Moon’s Light), and the book far exceeded my wildest expectations. I truly loved it so much that I did not want it to end. From the very first page, I was amazed by how incredibly well-written the tale is; I felt like I’d discovered a hidden gem that surely should be a well-known best-seller everywhere. The story is utterly engaging, entertaining, and unique; while it is set back in ancient days of kingdoms and castles, the language is modern right up to the slang, and DK Mok makes it all work beautifully. I loved the characters – from Seris, the healer, to Valamon, the reluctant royal – all of them were well-drawn, and the dynamics and interplay among them was engaging and authentic-feeling, which made me really care about them. What I probably loved most of all about this book was the incredible wit and humor that shone through on every page; it constantly had me laughing out loud and made for a brilliant counterpoint against the more intense/complex parts of the story. My only minor quibble was that the ending felt a bit as if it were trying to wrap everything up a little too quickly and neatly, which is not to say that I didn’t still find it quite satisfying and enjoyable. Hunt for Valamon is one of the most memorable, entertaining, well-written books I have ever read, and I cannot wait to read everything else by DK Mok!
I read In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett not so long ago. It's a selection of short stories, most by authors that I hadn't come across before (my bad, obviously). I took note of the ones that I really liked, and DK Mok was one of them. Thus this.
This book is a wild journey as the healer and the destroyer search together for the prince Valamon, who was abducted. In a world where gods and sorcery are real, though not condoned, and few hold any love for the royal family, these two face torture and likely death. Valamon, meantime, is trying to foil the plans of his captors - he's not the feeble-minded fool his younger brother believes him to be, but rather a philosopher and social scientist (not that these terms are used) - bur pacifism has never been part of his world's view.
Great scenery, fabulous action, terrific characters. I'm a fan!
A gritty, yet delightful tale that goes against the grain
I downloaded a sample of this book knowing nothing about the author and about 5 pages into the sample, I bought the full version. I was hooked by the witty humor and the believable, anti-cliché characters. I typically groan over books that jump all over the place following different characters, but DK Mok is able to make each character so dynamic and interesting that I actually didn't mind.
Even though the overall story is pretty bleak and dark most of the time, Mok's way of throwing in funny little descriptions or internal monologues perfectly lightens the gloom without taking away from the poignancy.
I will definitely be recommending this book and will fondly add Seris and Valamon to my literary characters hall of fame. :) :)
An eARC was received from the publisher via Netgalley.
First of all, I have to comment on that incredible cover art. Mok’s books (both published by Spence City) have had the most gorgeous covers. Huge kudos to the cover artist.
Let me tell you a story of teenage and young adult me. I loved epic fantasy. In high school, I would walk through the aisle looking for the distinctive fat paperbacks (preferably a series, since it lasted longer) that would give me an escape from the world. I devoured Raymond E. Feist’s books, and waited impatiently through university for each Wheel of Time book to be released. I loved fantasy, and for a while read fairly indiscriminately. Wizards and magic and dragons? I was there.
And then I read a lot more, and started seeing the same old tired tropes being trotted out again and again. Farmboy who goes on a journey and saves the kingdom and becomes a prince? Princess who is little more than a pretty trophy to be won? There were always exceptions, of course, but the old tropes were still there far too often, and I drifted away from the genre.
Now, I’m slowly coming back to reading epic fantasy, mostly because of some of the incredible authors who are breaking those old tropes and breathing life back into fantasy. Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire is pretty much a must-read, especially if, like me, you were burned out on a lot of the same-old same-old.
Now, I’m a fan of Mok’s work in general, but I will admit to some trepidation in reading The Hunt for Valamon. And honestly, I shouldn’t have had any. Mok brings a particular uniqueness to the genre with this book: there’s a good dose of modernity and originality in this book, and honestly, it’s just plain fun. There are no trophy princesses, not a farmboy-turned-prince in sight.
The book begins when Prince Valamon, heir to the throne, vanishes mysteriously from his room in the castle. A tournament is held to find a champion to be sent on the titular hunt. Elhan, a mysterious warrior who is followed by a curse, enters and wins. She sets out on her quest with Seris, a cleric with healing abilities.
Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? There’s a quest, someone to be rescued. But in every aspect of this book, Mok brings something new. It’s a prince who needs to be rescued, for one. Said prince, Valamon, is seen by others as being vague, and quite frankly, not a suitable heir to the throne. As the book progresses, we have chapters from Valamon’s point of view in captivity, and we learn more and more about him (also, there are scenes where he attempts to break out of his cell using straw and hessian, which are kind of awesome).
The female characters in this book are incredible. There are women in positions of power – Elhan is an accomplished warrior, despite being cursed to bring death and destruction everywhere she goes, and rightly feared because of it. We also have Qara, childhood friend of the princes who has grown up to become a royal adviser, and Haska, who had a hand in Valamon’s kidnapping. The reader sees chapters from all of their points of view, allowing Mok to flesh out all of the characters fully. There are no cackling two-dimensional villains here, just real people, all of whom believe that their actions are right.
And Seris also needs to be noted. He’s a cleric who has the power of healing granted to him by the goddess he serves, and could easily have become a passive or weak character, especially when juxtaposed against so many other physically strong characters. Mok draws him finely, and gives him strength of a different fashion – he has the strength of conviction, of belief, and he always stays good and true to his beliefs.
If you’re tired of grimdark fantasy, I’d suggest that The Hunt for Valamon is a good place to start. There are serious issues at stake here, but there’s always a lightness there, too, with just enough humour to balance the darker aspects of the book.
I did feel at times that some of the modern language that Mok uses in this book jarred, but then I took a step back and thought about it. The language that we’re used to seeing with so much epic fantasy goes along with so many of the old tropes, and why shouldn’t a different kind of fantasy also use a different kind of language?
Highly recommended to anyone who loves fantasy, or, like me, has burned out on all the same old fantasy tropes.
Firstly, the disclaimer that I worked with DK on "In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett", but as usual this has not affected my review. In saying that, it *did* affect the fact that I actually finished the book, as otherwise I would have DNF'd.
As you've probably already gathered, I did not enjoy this book. After my initial excitement and optimism, I found it a real chore to get through. To me it feels like a 5-star book wearing a 2.5-star cloak. The spelling and grammar is flawless, it's professionally-presented, and of course I love the cover. However:
* There was no dramatic tension, no pace, and no drive to push me forward through the book. * I didn't care about the characters--perhaps if it had stayed with our initial three of the cleric, Kali-A and Valamon, and I had gotten to know them more in-depth, something interesting would have been there. But as it was, so many people were involved and at some random stages--one character in particular I feel was thrown in exclusively so that the plot would 'work'--that I simply couldn't get involved. * The style is sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, and the book skips between the two at rather random times. I feel like I could tell what mood the author was in as she wrote each scene, as though the tone of the piece reflected her rather than the story. * The grandiose statements. * The overwhelming cheesiness in places. * The plot is occasionally rather confusing. * The predictability, the tropes, the oh-so-convenient ending.
However the thing that bothered me even more than the above put together was the over-attachment to description. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I found that there were so many paragraphs describing barren fields and doorways and turrets and irrelevant market stalls, that I wanted to throw my Kindle at walls. You could tell that the author really loves words, and that this universe is incredibly graphic and vivid in her mind--but the story was bogged down in description to the point where I was vacantly reading each paragraph over and over as I tried to get through it all.
Of course, I did say above that there's a 5-star book in there somewhere, so there were clearly some things that I liked. I liked the curse as an idea, the very different settings (barren fields aside), and the feminist/egalitarian themes. There were also some fantastic quotes in there which I'm going to add shortly.
DK can really put words together, there's no doubt about it, and she has some great ideas. I actually think she'd make a fantastic addition to a game design team, or working with a more graphically-based medium such as film. But the Hunt for Valmon was not for me.
I became aware of D.K. Mok's work when we both had stories in the Terry Pratchett tribute anthology In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett. I enjoyed her story in that book, and bought this book in consequence.
It reminds me, in many ways, of a Terry Pratchett story. We have not one, but two earnest, rather hapless young men with burning ideals about how the world should be, who struggle and sacrifice and are willing to pay any price to make it that way, because they care very deeply. We have several capable, no-nonsense young women who eventually come round to the young men's way of thinking, and provide necessary ingredients of the solution. We have some dark moments, but also some very funny moments, mostly either "hapless young man is hapless" or else clever play with language. The plot is exciting, suspenseful, and far from predictable. Every so often we have a beautifully phrased philosophical statement like "People only knew what they wanted, not what was important. That's why things didn't work." The editing is excellent, and I don't say that often or lightly.
There is one way in which I felt the book could have been improved, and it's an issue that this kind of book is vulnerable to. There are a lot of fairly generic minor characters, and I had trouble, when one showed up again after an interval, remembering who they were or anything else about them. The main characters were OK; we saw enough of them, and they had enough things that they wanted and enough distinctive attributes, that they were easy to remember and tell apart. The minor characters, though, needed to stand out from the background a bit more clearly, even if it was just through a couple of initial descriptive tags that could be mentioned again when they reappeared (the Roger Zelazny method).
Apart from that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will be looking out for more from D.K. Mok.
**unbiased spoiler free review** - I bought this book on my kindle with my own hard earned money after reading a positive online review and so hold no allegiances to the published or author. I picked up Hunt for Valamon expecting a straight forward fantasy story of a Prince being kidnapped and the subsequent rescue mission. I must admit this didn't fill me with a lot of hope however the review I read convinced me to give it a go. What I actually found was the rescue mission element plays a smaller part than I expected. The story is on a much grander scale involving an empire at war, complex characters with a dash of soft magic. Although the overall world building in the book isn’t on the scale of some high fantasy books at 400 pages is enough to tell the story and tell it well. Mok keeps a good pace throughout with no long laborious political meetings or extended explanations to the back story, but still manages to give you a set of characters 90% of which are neither truly good nor bad. There is also some well-placed humour throughout which really does add to the story but doesn’t have so much humour that it detracts from the overall story. Overall I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy; it’s a great refreshing read requiring little effort from the reader, so it’s great to read between high fantasy tomes. The book would be suitable for teens too, containing some violence as you’d expect (what would a fantasy book be without some violence), but not particularly graphic violence, no sex and very little in the way of naughty words (but don’t let that put you off either).
When Crown Prince Valamon disappears from his room in the castle, sorcery is blamed. Rather than leaping onto his horse and thundering into the night in search of him, Valamon’s brother Falon holds a tournament to find a champion. Supervised by Lord Qara, who actually a woman, and Seris, who is a cleric and healer, a victor, Elhan, is chosen. She is the Kali-Adelsa (cursed one) and one of the most feared women in the kingdoms. To ensure everyone knows that Elhan is on official Prince business, Falon sends Seris with her carrying a certified letter.
The story rumbles along quiet well with everything that can go wrong going wrong. It is clever and witty and at times rather humours. I did however find the plot a little difficult to follow, particularly towards the end which is not stereotypical. At times, some things which were meant to be funny fell flat or the analogy was too cheese or complex. There was some romantic tension, but this didn’t eventuate into so much as a kiss, which I thought was disappointing. Overall, I found the book enjoyable and I look forward to future books from the author.
Randomly picked up this book from the shelves at the library and got it out since the blurb seemed interesting enough. Best uninformed decision I made in a long time.
I wish this was the first book to a series. The world building was intriguing enough and character development would go further. There were also some side characters that I want to get to know more about. The plot could have worked equally well with a tragedy or a happy ending. I did get a sense of everything working out too neatly at the end, but other than that it was an unpredictable plot that kept me engaged.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading HUNT FOR VALAMON, which is unsurprising as I'm a big fan of DK Mok's work. In this book, Mok takes some fairly traditional fantasy tropes, turns them upside down, shakes them around and rips them out in a rollicking adventure peppered with fascinating characters and intrigue. If I have one complaint, it is that at times the dialogue was perhaps a little too flippant for the story at hand, although at the same time there was some great banter. Recommended!