Fabulous novel, literate fantasy with amazing world building in a place not unlike our own, but with a few very basic differences. Nice portrayal of same-sex relationships and a fluid view if sexuality very different from our own binary view, but that's only an undercurrent of this text on mythology, history, belief, and scholarship. An enthralling read.
Set 60 years after Swordspoint, which I adored.
The Fall of the Kings is beautifully written but spends far too long in a detailed exploration of the lives of a far too stereotypical group of university scholars and the nobility they are intertwined with...
The scholars are studying ancient history, focusing on the monarchy that had been deposed generations before, full of mad kings and the wizards who had ruled with them. The nobility have already declared that magic is not even allowed to be talked about, and are concerned that there is a royalist plot brewing.
It's a slow slog that never really perks up - a large amount of the book is spent listening in on groups of men gossipping about their studies or their teachers or the suspected plots or (more often) who is sleeping with whom. Which is usually boy-on-boy action, but not of a particularly interesting or involved character - Professor St. Cloud seems more involved in his fondling of a long-lost book, and it comes off as more erotic. Most of the male characters in the novel have bland, interchangable personalities, so perhaps it is justified.
There are some strong female characters, but they are relegated to the background until they need to come forth and bail someone out. I wish that they'd been given half a chance because they added some spice to an otherwise dry story.
I also don't find men sleeping with men for fun when they're young and hiding behind closed doors but still marrying themselves off to women for society (whether they love them or not) to be a particularly earth-shatteringly different view of how the world works sexually. I'd have much preferred it if any of the relationships discussed in this book (gay or straight) came across as meaningful. There were some that were desparately needy, but yet again, Swordspoint did it better - there were a few serious ones thrown in along with the casual fun and clinging addiction.
I just didn't care for the book. It was debate after debate, very little adventure, very little magic. To much debate. The plot wasn't bad, and the ending was left wide open. I didn't much care for any of the characters, except maybe Justis Blake. And maybe Jessica. But the book to me was soooo dull.