on Jan. 22, 2012 :
Sleeping Kings was a pleasant surprise for me. When I received the email pitch from the author, I wasn't sure if it would be for me, but I decided to give it a go and I'm glad I did as I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a fantasy, adventure thriller aimed at a YA audience but I believe it can be enjoyed by anyone. It follows Nik, a teenage tomboy who ends up moving to the French Pyranees with her father when her mother decides to emigrate to America with her new boyfriend, whom Nik cannot stand. Whilst out on a mountain with school one day, she ends up meeting an ancient king who tells her that he needs her help to protect a secret that dates back 700 years from a group that are conspiring to uncover the secret and destroy the world. Pretty tough to take when you woke up in the morning thinking you'd just have a normal day at school, right? Nik enlists the help of her schoolmate and new friend, Daan, who knows the mountains and the countryside around them like the back of his hand and together they take on some pretty nasty people...
I liked this book because it combines fast paced adventure with historical information about the Cathar movement. I enjoy learning whilst I'm reading but some authors are unable to pull this off, making it boring to read despite their best efforts. This is certainly not the case with this book and I think that it will appeal to children, teens and adults alike. The characters of Nik and Daan are easy to relate to - Nik is an online-gaming addict who has a difficult relationship with her father and Daan is a friendly, caring boy who really cares about the environment around him (another great message delivered through this book without it feeling forced) and who loves an adventure.
My one issue with the book was the short chapters that were interspersed with the main chapters, telling a kind of side story about a place called 'Somewhere Else'. For me, they added nothing to the book and became more of an annoyance than anything else.
This is book one of a series and I think I will probably read the next book at some point. I would definitely recommend this to people looking for a fun read that is a little different to the books that seem to be dominating the market at the moment.
(reviewed 9 months after purchase)
on Aug. 29, 2011 :
John Prentice’s Sleeping Kings is a young adult novel that revolves around the lives of Nicola, her geologist father, and super-nerdy neighbor, Daan. After her mother and father divorce, Nicola’s father moves the two of them to a small town in France where Nicola is forced to give up her one true love, on-line gaming. While Nicola is sure life as she knows it is over, she is about to find out that her life has only truly just begun.
Prentice moves quickly into the plot where, on a field trip with their class, Nicola and Daan unceremoniously fall into an old and uncharted cave. As if this doesn’t suck enough, the two find themselves face-to-face with Pedro, a living, breathing man who can apparently turn any substance into another and died in the year 1213. Okie dokie, Nicola and Daan surely bumped their heads a little too hard on the way down, right? Not so much – neither were hurt in the fall and both become immediately embroiled in a conspiracy that stretches all the way back to the 13th century.
Prentice offers the reader an easy read that is moderately-paced and steeped in French Cathar history. This history is one of the novel’s greatest strengths and it is used to help further the major plot line: the Cathar discovery of the secrets of alchemy. Nicola and Daan are essentially forced into helping Pedro and his comrades put down a modern-day plot to recover the Cathar secret, known as the Power and destroy the world. What is interesting about the kids’ involvement is exactly how connected they really are to both Pedro and the Cathar legacy.
I liked the characters in this book and in particular I liked Pedro and Daan. Pedro is an honorable man who has literally sacrificed centuries to protect what the Cathars discovered. Additionally, Pedro helps Nicola understand her role in the plot and protects her when necessary. Daan, on the other hand is a contemporary character whose knowledge of history and spouting of historical facts is rather delightful. Rather than dryly reporting the historical information that is necessary for the reader to understand the plot, Prentice uses Pedro and Daan to convey the information through dialogue; a clever and much more entertaining way to tell me what I need to know.
The only parts of the book that I found off-putting are the chapters that take place in a place called “Somewhere Else”. I believe these chapters are meant to lay the groundwork for the continuation of the series but frankly, they added absolutely nothing to this first-in-the-series book. For me, these chapters were annoying interruptions of an otherwise very good read.
The bottom line: even with the bothersome Somewhere Else chapters, Sleeping Kings is still a very good start to the Dark Force series. There is plenty of action, good and very interesting historical information, and characters who work nicely within the plot. This is a novel that will certainly appeal to both young adults and adults.
If you enjoy book one, you will pleased to know there is already a book two, The Devil’s Gate which is set to release July 29, 2011.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
on June 9, 2011 :
I'll say this, for 99 cents Sleeping Kings offers a story filled with action, adventure, and the slightest hint of romance for an unbeatable price. If you have an e-reader or don't mind reading books on your computer, I highly recommend the first book from John Prentice's Dark Force series.
Nicola "Nik" Roscoe didn't expect to find herself in France, but she refused to move to the U.S. with her mother, and her father's work required a move to France. Nik, a tomboy and bit of a rebel, likes being with her dad, but her new life in France leaves much to be desired. That is until Nik and her class go up into the mountains and Nik falls into a cavern where she meets King Pedro, a man who's been dead for a number of centuries. With King Pedro's guidance, Nik learns she has special powers that can help save her father and her new friend Daan.
The mix of action/adventure and hints of romance worked really well for me. It's not so romantic that boys will hate the book, but there's just enough romance that teen girls will want to keep reading. They'll be dying to know if Daan and Nik hook up. The writing is gripping and keeps you drawn to the story from beginning to end. As this is the first book in a series, there's definitely more to come and I eagerly await future books!
I really enjoyed this story. One thing that I should mention is that the author is clearly British and therefore uses terms that some teens in the U.S. may not understand. My mom's English, so I knew everything, but terms like "boot" (trunk of a vehicle) are things my kids have had to ask me to clarify in the past. There are a number of sites that can help teens who need words clarified, or drop me an email and I'm happy to help.
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)
on June 7, 2011 :
SLEEPING KINGS: Dark Force Book 1 is a fun and adventurous novel about a tomboy named Nik. She feels abandoned by her mother, who runs off to American to be with another man, so she stays with her father. She’s pretty timid, that is until she meets King Pedro II of Aragon and is introduced to the “Power” and her entire life changes.
I thought that this story was extremely entertaining. It’s a fun adventure story, with quite a bit of magic involved. I would definitely say it’s for teenagers, and it is considered YA Fiction, but I can also see adults enjoying it. I was a little confused by all of the snippets of information about “The Pale One” throughout the story, and how he is involved in Nik’s dreams, but as the novel advances I was able to get a better understanding of who he/it was, and how it fit into the book.
There were several comical parts, such as when the crew in the helicopter were shooting at them; Nik used the “Power” to turn the bullets into chickens and then into rolls of toilet paper. I liked Nik’s character a lot. She grows from a wimpy tomboy with a hatred for history, to a young woman who has grown emotionally and mentally and now has a better appreciation for the world around her. I also like that there seems to be an underlying theme to the story about taking care of and appreciating nature and the earth, at least I see that a lot with Daan’s character. Daan is the boy who gets accidentally dragged along into all of Nik’s random adventures!
I would definitely recommend this book to YA fiction lovers. It is book one of a series, and I would definitely read the second book in the series, because there is enough of a cliff hanger to make you curious as to what will happen next!
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
on May 17, 2011 :
I fell in love with Nicola from the beginning - and the author just kept twisting and turning her fate while staying true to the strong, spunky essence of who she is. I can't wait until the second book is available In July!!!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
on May 13, 2011 :
When displaced Nicola literally stumbles upon a regent from the 1200's in the mountains around the tiny French town where she lives, she unknowingly embarks upon an adventure of epic proportion and dire consequence.
This story was fast-paced and snappy with plenty of action and turns to keep the reader guessing. The history introduced and explained within the story adds to the plot and characters without feeling laborious. The main character's voice is recognizable and witty--she has a certain sarcastic humor that is very in keeping with her age and the audience.
In many ways, the flow and feeling of this story reminds me of the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. Fans of Maximum Ride will enjoy the swiftness of this story arc. My only complaint, in fact, was that the fast pace left little time for deep character development. However, I have a feeling that, like in the Maximum Ride books, more character development is to come through subsequent installments in the Dark Force Series.
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)