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June 17, 2021

Crown of the Sundered Empire by J.C. Kang ~ a Review

by MK French


Tomas has a misshapen face and a glass eye, so the townsfolk make fun of him. The only person that doesn’t is the Rune vendor’s daughter, and he tries to convince her that he has second sight to impress her. However, when magic-fearing invaders remove his mismatched eye, the glass replacement is actually demon-infested. Now he truly has second sight after a fashion and has to use his cunning to maneuver through the world without letting the surrounding armies know about the demon, which would carry a death sentence.

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Crown of the Sundered Empire
Oct 2019; Dragonstone Press; 978-1970067019
ebook, print (597 pages); fantasy
J.C. Kang has an immersive series of books known as the Legends of Tivara. Crown of the Sundered Empire is a separate entry point into the world, with all new characters to follow. (The publisher's website has some helpful genealogies and maps for the series, too.) Tomas’ village is caught in the middle of a war, as different descendants of the Sun God all have various claims on the land and the kingdoms. The Tarkothi, Serikoth and Bovyan cultures are all vying for power, so we see the royal houses and their machinations before we get back to Tomas. In that sense, we have four different story threads: the three royal factions (along with their retainers and spies) as well as Tomas, leading to a lot of characters to learn and follow as we go. This really gives depth to the world as well, because we hear about so many different kingdoms and cultures.

Even as a good entry point into the Tivara universe, there is still a lot going on here. It almost feels like too much, because I get sucked into one storyline, then it switches to another, and the storyline switches again just when I get into the next one. Each of the storylines eventually dovetails, with the royals all coalescing into one location due to Elrayn’s plot to consolidate their countries against the Bovyan. Crown Prince Elrayn didn’t bother to ask for consent to his plans, instead, coercing the others and attempting to use magic to alter their demeanor and willpower. Of course, this backfires, and we know there’s going to be bad ramifications for this, particularly when we’re only halfway through the book! In Tomas’s plotline, he gets his demonic glass eye a little before that and doesn’t understand the full ramifications of this other than the death that Bovyans would give him.

The second half of the book is full of battle and intrigue, on land and sea, as well as in different palaces. They’re all fascinating to read about, and the tensions remain high in the different plot threads. It’s a great look at the world of Tivara and the epic tales in this universe.

(the ebook is a free read for Kindle Unlimited subscribers - sign up today)


Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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