Review: Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry

Book Review

Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry
Kagen the Damned #1
Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Dark Fantasy

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Sworn by Oath

Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, charged with protection the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins.

Abandoned by the Gods
Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take down as many of this enemies as possible while plotting to assassinate the usurper–the deadly Witch-king of Hakkia. While all around him magic–long banished from the world—returns in strange and terrifying ways.

Fueled by Rage
To find the royal children and exact his vengeance, Kagen must venture into strange lands, battle bizarre and terrifying creatures, and gather allies for a suicide mission into the heart of the Witch-king’s empire.

Kings and gods will fear him.

Kagen the Damned

What I thought
Thank you, St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for giving me an ARC copy of this book for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings expressed are my own.

Kagen the Damned is the first book that I have read by Maberry, and I really hope that he decides to write more adult epic fantasy in the future.  Just a warning, this book is not for anyone that has a weak stomach.  There are many graphic scenes. 

This story contains multiple POV, thankfully they were different enough that keeping track of who is who was not too difficult.  This story starts off with a bang, you are thrown straight into the action.  Kagen, who is off duty, wakes up hungover only to find his belongings missing, and they are under attack.  This should not have been possible, they should have been able to see a group this large coming.  Now Kagen must try to get back to protect the royal family.  Kagen is the protector of the Seedlings (children)… I have no idea why that term bothered me so much, every time I read it, I cringed.

You learn early in the story why Kagen considers himself to be damned.  Just a heads-up, you most likely will not like Kagen, especially at the beginning of the book.  Strangely for me, that did not stop me from continuing.  I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that even though Kagen knows he is a strong and can at times be overly confident/cocky, he still was affected by the traumatic events that unfolded at the beginning of the story.  Kagen has to deal with what happened and shows real emotions and reactions to horrific events.  He is not just some tough guy that just brushes it all off and moves on.  There is a decent part of the book where he is actively wallowing and/or working though it all just to be able to function again.

Kagen Vale is broken, but he is not destroyed… even a shattered sword may be reforged and made stronger.”

I get that the Witch-king is the big bad in the story, but I really did not like his or anyone in his court POVs.  I mean, I really did not like them, they made my skin crawl.  They were also some of the most horrific scenes in the book.

I was uncomfortable with the relationship/outcome between Rissa and Miri.  I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Rissa is an adult and Miri is only 15.  Rissa just seemed very sketchy, and I just felt like there was always something off.  When someone’s response is always just trust me, you know something is up.  It will be interesting to see the justification of the events in the upcoming books.

Tuke, I really like Tuke he is the perfect balance for Kagen.  There was just something about him that I really just liked.

I really liked how this story used old religions/lore and even referred to them as Elder Gods.  I won’t spoil which ones are in the story, but I really liked how it was done, and I can’t wait to see more of it.  I was also impressed how the story addresses how history is written by the winning side and is not usually the full story.  This is something that is often forgotten, and I am glad it was worked into the story.

I guessed the big reveal before the end, I just wanted them to say it so that I could see if I was right.  It was like all the pieces just fell into place.  I cannot wait to see what the next installment has in store.

My Rating: /5

Have you read this book? If so what did you think? Tell me in the comments below.

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3 thoughts on “Review: Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry

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