The fourth and final book in the King Rolen’s Kin series.

Publication year: 2013
Format: print
Page count: 774
Publisher: Solaris

King Breaker continues right after the ending of the previous book, the Usurper. King Rolen’s three children continue their fight to take the kingdom from their usurper uncle. There are also two other point-of-view characters: Florin who was a major secondary character in the previous book and Garzik who starred in his own novella, the King’s Man.

In The Usurper, the eldest of the children, Byren, fought Merofynia’s king and killed him. Byren is now engaged to Merofynia’s 15-year old queen Isolt. At the start of the book, Byren and his best friend Orrade are sailing to Rolencia to take the throne for Byren’s traitorous uncle Cobalt. Byren left his younger brother Fyn in Merofynia. Fyn is Queen Isolt’s Lord Protector and he’s supposed to protect the queen and Byren’s interests in Merofynia.

Both Fyn and Byren are in a way out of their elements, although Fyn more than Byren. At a young age, Fyn found out that he can use magic, or Affinity as it’s called in this world. So, he was sent to a monastery, as King Rolen had decreed for all magic-users. However, Fyn isn’t a magic-user but a warrior monk a small ability to channel Affinity. He’s spent his whole life in the monastery and now he’s put in the middle of scheming, foreign nobles. The Merofynian nobles resent him and they also resent having just a queen. Many of them would want to see themselves as the king. Also, the local barbarian tribes think that Merofynia is weak and are attacking. Fyn is trying to unify the nobles against the barbarians. Unfortunately, Fyn is falling in love with Isolt and so his loyalty is divided. Byren, on the other hand, is a soldier and leader so that part comes to him naturally. But he’s also a good man who is trying to do the right thing and honor his promises and he’s finding out that being a king isn’t easy. He’s also never wanted to be king; his twin was groomed for that position but his twin Lence is dead. He doesn’t love Isolt, he doesn’t even know her, but he’s determined to keep his word and marry her, no matter what.

Meanwhile, uncle Cobalt is solidifying his hold on Merofynia and making up lies about Byren which will make Byren’s return even more difficult. We get to see his scheming at close range because of Florin. She grew up in a trade post but Cobalt had is burned down. She’s also in love with Byren and think that Byren is dead. So, she’s determined to kill Cobalt. She manages to get a post in the palace as a servant girl. She’s determined and loyal to a fault. However, she’s also tall and strong and thinks of herself as unfeminine which brings her some angst.

Byren’s and Fyn’s younger sister Piro has found out that she, too, has Affinity. She’s doing her best to help her brothers but she also doesn’t want to be a political pawn, married off to buy her brother lands or soldiers. She’s near Merofynia, with a mage Siordun.

The last point-of-view character is Garizk, Orrade’s younger brother who was presumed dead in the second book. However, as the novella King’s Man reveals, he was instead taken prisoner and ended up as a slave among the barbarian Utlanders. He managed to win his freedom and now he’s torn between he’s newfound loyalty to one of the Utlander leaders and to Byren. He’s trying to escape and rejoin Byren.

The book has a lot of characters and plot lines but they meld into a coherent, enjoyable whole. There’s fighting on many fronts and a lot of action, but also significant character development. The characters have to make hard choice again and again. Byren especially has to choose between his duty to Rolencia and the woman he loves. Several times he also has to choose between keeping his word and taking the easy way out. Except for Piro, all of the other characters struggle with divided loyalties.

We’re introduced to two new countries. One of them is Merofynia and the other is a completely new country. Merofynia has featured before as the major antagonist in the series and Rolencia’s invaders have all come from Merofynia. However, this time we get to go there and see the customs. Both of these countries are more patriarchal than Rolencia and treat their magic-users differently.

Orrade is one of my favorite secondary characters. He’s unquestioningly loyal to Byren but isn’t afraid to give him advice even when it’s something Byren doesn’t want to hear. Orrade is the oldest son of Lord Dovecote so he’s a shrewd negotiator and a diplomat. He’s also gay. When he confessed this to Byren in the first book, Byren was really uncomfortable with him but since then Byren has come to accept Orrade as he is. Orrade is also Affinity touched; sometimes he gets visions of the future.

This is mostly a satisfying ending for the series. It’s a realistic ending and so fits very well with the tone of the series. A few threads are left open for future books, though. For example, it’s mentioned a couple of times that there are more Affinity beasts than usual but that wasn’t addressed in the series. I also think that Piro didn’t get a satisfying ending and I hope Daniells will return to her at some point.