As I am reading all things fantasy this month for Wyrd & Wonder, I switched gears to go indie! JDL Rosell is an author with an impressive amount of work out so far, and those books are absolutely everywhere in the indie community. I wanted to start towards the beginning and found books one and two of The Legend of Tal series on Audible (and KU too) so I decided to start there.
I’m not disappointed at all. This is an incredibly tropey classic feeling fantasy with everything from a cursed piece of jewelry to a petulantly funny king.
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: A King’s Bargain
- Series: The Legend of Tal, #1
- Author: JDL Rosell
- Length: 386 pages (Kindle)
- Release: Self published, 2020
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of classic fantasy
The audiobook is a combined book 1 & 2, narrated by Derek Perkins. Released in 2021 through Podium Audio. I gave him 4 stars too for narration!
Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon
The legend of Tal Harrenfel is sung across the Westreach—and with each telling, the tales grow taller. But though he’s declared a hero by his king, Tal has never claimed to be more than a man…
After three decades of fighting warlocks, killing mythical beasts, and hunting enchanted treasure, Tal has had enough. Running from the deeds of his past, he retreats to his home village under a different name and meets an unlikely companion: Garin, a village boy who dreams of making a name for himself and seeing the world beyond their sleepy town.
When Tal receives a mysterious visitor, both he and Garin are thrown into a journey across the kingdom. Soon, they become embroiled in the plots of monarchs, on the frontlines of an ancient war, and at the mercy of a fabled sorcerer.
Now Tal must live up to his legend, and Garin discover his own power, to survive the forces pitted against them…
You want tropes, we have tropes! A boy (a man!) leaves a small town and has a coming of age adventure. There’s a cursedly evil piece of jewelry. The retired hero is going to either save the day or epically ruin everything, or a little of both. There’s first love and plenty of humor and banter. A big bad guy and a big fabled magic item.
If only everything we’re so simple, right?
What I liked about A King’s Bargain is that while Rosell doesn’t do anything new or stunning, he makes the old tropes interesting through likeable characters and a fast paced plot. I like that I can read something like this in 360 pages when something like the Wheel of Time is a thousand page investment for a similar result.
Legends are a big theme and one of my favorite themes. What is true? Why are stories told like they are? Are the fables real, and what were they based on? Tal’s story unveils and eventually ties into that of an old “evil”. I also like that the big picture is revealed slowly throughout the story, keeping me interested in long term as well as short term events.
The points of view go between Tal trying to reason his way through his return to the spotlight, and Garin who is along for the ride and maybe making his own story along the way. I like Tal’s moral conflicts put against Garin’s learning curve.
There’s plenty of action, plotting, and magic to keep things interesting. There are some darker parts so it’s not all fun and games and creates a good overall balance. I wish he had done more with the various races but i think we are going to meet more of the dwarves, goblins, etc later in the series.
Overall I like this one and recommend for fans of classic fantasy. I don’t want to go into too many details but it’s a solid read, almost a popcorn fantasy, and definitely a good investment on audible (1st two books currently free with membership). Derek Perkins is a great narrator – I couldn’t speed him up very well and still understand names (settled on 1.10 speed 🤷♀️) but he does good voices and brings a lot to the storyline. Continuing on to book two soon!
Thanks for checking out my book & audiobook review for A King’s Bargain by JDL Rosell! I acquired the book with KU/Audible as a mood read and as always, all opinions are my own ♥️