A novella set in the world of King Rolen’s Kin series.

Publication year: 2012
Page count: Kindle needs no dated page numbers
Format: ebook, Kindle. Also available in mobi format
Publisher: Solaris

King’s Man begins near the end of the first book in the King Rolen’s Kin trilogy: The King’s Bastard. Garzik is the younger son of Lord Dovecote. The Lords’ oldest son, Orrade, is a major secondary character in the series and the best friend of the main protagonist, Byren. In the first book, enemies overran Lord Dovecote’s castle even though Byren, Orrade, and Garzik tried to defend it. Byren told Garzik to light a signal fire so that others could be warned about the enemy. Unfortunately, Garzik failed and he wasn’t seen in the series again. This is his tale.

Garzik is fifteen years old and he hero worships his older brother Orrade and the king’s heir Byren. Even though he’s a lord’s son and has never done any menial work in his life, he’s a pleasant young man. He’s inquisitive, quick to learn languages, and interested in learning about other cultures. But the whole time, he’s full of guilt and shame because he hadn’t light the signal fire.

While trying to light the signal fire, Garzik and his group of soldiers run into the enemy. Garzik is knocked over the head and taken as a slave. During the voyage to the enemy city he’s sick and doesn’t even remember his name. So he has no way to declare himself a noble and maybe be released for ransom. When his head clears, it’s too late. He’s locked up with the other slaves, all male captives from his homeland. A former scribe has taken care of him when he was sick. The scribe has convinced himself that Garzik is a spy for their king and reluctantly, Garzik allows him to believe that. However, they are separated when a ship’s captain wants Garzik. He ends up being a ship’s surgeon’s helper.

Garzik is the clear protagonist here; the rest of the cast changes quickly. He makes enemies among the other slaves but also a few friends.

I felt that this story was more gritty than the King Rolen’s Kin series. In fact, I thought it was close to Daniells’ other series, the Outcast Chronicles, in tone. As a slave Garzik is often hungry and cold. His choices are very limited and he’s abused mentally and physically. He’s even gang raped near the middle of the book. Yet, Daniells doesn’t dwell on these things. They are what slaves have to endure and I think Garzik is actually very lucky to have masters who aren’t determined to abuse him constantly. In the rape scene Garzik passes out quickly. Yet, I think he should have been more affected by the rape. Right afterwards, he considers killing himself in shame but quickly decides that he has to live to escape and serve Byren. After that he doesn’t think about the rape much. Later, he even comes to admire the rapists and their culture. Although, that could be a strong case of Stockholm syndrome. I also found the raiders’ culture very interesting and wouldn’t mind seeing more of it.

Garzik’s homeland’s primary enemies, the Merofynians, are shown pretty much without any redeeming qualities. Except for one man, the Merofynians are greedy, prone to abusing helpless people dependent on them, rapists, and murderers. But the raiders have a quite a complex society.