The Kingmaker Contest by Troy Clem – A Book Review



Theo’s empathic power lays untapped, but she knows of his abilities. Is she god or something worse? The only thing that’s certain: the rage and terror warring inside Theo can obliterate the Drasque Empire—if war doesn’t first.

Theo couldn’t imagine the consequences when he stowed away. His freedom from Losik wasn’t worth war, but he didn’t know magical forces were waiting for him. In a time when whale oil and muskets replaced torches and swords, an ancient way of thinking still prevails, forcing men to kill other men for a chance to be king, and allowing a god and her blood magic warriors to bend the world to her will.

Author: Troy Clem

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: Not specified on Amazon

Pages: 192

My Chosen Format: Kindle

My Rating of ‘The Kingmaker Contest’: 3 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon US



I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

When Troy got in touch and asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing his epic fantasy novella, I said yes for numerous reasons; the story sounded interesting, I was really enjoying my shorter works at the time of contact and I was curious just how an epic fantasy of novella length would work. As, much like 99% of readers out there, my mind jumps to thick books when the word ‘epic’ is thrown around. I get the feeling that this is going to be a series of novella-length works to tell the whole story. I’m not sure it’s a format that works for me, but different strokes for different folk and all that.

I found myself enjoying half of the story (with Tess and Pasqual) far more than I enjoyed the other half (Theo, Dak and the rest of his Sigandar pals). The main reason for this is that the Sigandar language is just Yoda (from Star Wars fame) speak. And despite the fact that there are male and female speakers in these parts, I could not differentiate between them due to Yoda being the only voice in my head (sadly, when reading I could only hear his voice for either gender). This made the parts where they were speaking (speech for their chapters makes up roughly 60-70%. it is incredibly speech heavy throughout the entire novella to be fair) not only seem tedious, but sometimes hard to follow. I don’t like having to go back a few lines every so often to try to remember who was speaking. And with this I did. It didn’t help matters when Dak would speak like Yoda for a part and then speak regularly for a few lines. It really threw my brain through a loop as far as keeping up was involved.

Tess’ voice was almost as grating. She has a very common-sounding voice and is very common in the way she pronounces words. I know it’s how actual people speak and I know it’s what the author was going for, but the main thing I took away from this work was that there were so many drastically different ways of speaking that it just felt too much. Tess’ voice most likely would not have been an issue if my brain hadn’t just been bashed with the Yoda stick beforehand.

That being said, Tess was far easier to follow than the Signadar, so I can’t complain too much. Her side of things followed her cousin, Pasqual, as he fought in the Kingmaker contest (a contest designed to find the heir to the throne when the current king eventually passes on. In this world succession by blood is no longer a thing. Succession by strength of arms is the way forward. Tess and Pasqual just seemed to constantly be getting up to something and keeping things interesting, where I found Theo’s side of thing was bogged down by my annoyance at the Sigandar speech patterns. So I often found myself looking forward to her chapters more so than Theo’s.

That being said, when things start to come to a head near the end, I found Theo’s to be equally as enjoyable and really enjoyed them in the closing chapters.

Aside from the speech traits, my main concern would be that, for an ‘epic fantasy’ everything seemed to happen far too quickly and all at once. There was very little world building or development of the surroundings. Everything just kind of happened in a world I feel like I should already know about than one that should be being explained to me. Sadly, I don’t already know about the world so I felt a bit left out in the cold at parts. I feel it would have been a bit more epic if such development had been addressed. Making the novella into full novel length would have sorted this wonderfully.

8 thoughts on “The Kingmaker Contest by Troy Clem – A Book Review

    1. Sketchy/non-existent world building 🙈 for an ‘epic’ fantasy to be without world building is a tad lacklustre and un-epic feeling.

      Genuinely feel if a book is long/going to have many installments people just throw the word epic at it and hope it sticks.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I just realized I missed a few of your posts (I’m sorry!). “Epic Fantasy Novella” – isn’t that an oxymoron? Lol. Sounds like maybe it didn’t work anyway- which I wouldn’t really have expected it to. I hope your next read is better!

    Liked by 1 person

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