I've been a voracious reader lately, gobbling up book after book. Hell, I even found a book to read during the in-betweens. Once I hit that ground running in 2018, I haven't looked back.
One of my earlier reads that year was a book by an author that I, for the life of me, can't remember how I stumbled upon, Jarrod King. But I've followed him on Twitter since then. He had just published his first book, Pangaea: Unsettled Land. What hooked me was that the main characters (with an S!) were POC with the main two males being Black, a theme I had been following that year. Also, the aforementioned males are most DEFINITELY attracted to each other (there's this one scene where... whew. -fans self). Oh, and there's magic! I was sold!
The Auctorati is set many, many years before Pangaea. I tend to be one who likes backstory, so learning more about some of the characters I was already familiar with was a treat. While it's not entirely critical to read Pangaea first, more explanation for things in this world is given there; The Auctorati doesn't explain much of the world.
Our primary POV is Libra. Fans of King will recognize Libra as the leader of the Auctorati in Pangaea. However, here, he simply goes by the Auctorat. There's a chapter early on where we learn of his motivation and it suddenly hits me. "Omg, he's the Green Arrow."
Libra, disguised as the Auctorat in the most "I just started vigilante-ing" attire, does whatever it takes to protect his city from the corruption that has nestled in it. Libra soon realizes he needs a team of his own if he wants to fight off the likes of Talon, our villain of this story. (Spoilers: Talon is my favorite character!) I picture Talon as a British Killmonger, with a metal arm and a dose of extra Cocky Bastard.
Libra sets off to begin gathering his team (very Oceans-like), starting off first with a local graffiti artist (who puts up quite the chase), along with a bunch of other misfits who all ultimately want one thing: to bring Talon down.
I have a few gripes, though nothing too major. Some of the dialogue is odd (though I think it's because I'm looking for higher fantasy for some reason), certain behaviors don't make sense to me, and one character in particular just completely baffles me. I'm assuming they'll be a major character in a future installment, so I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.
I have a confession to make, though: I've read this before. Not in the figurative sense, no. It didn't don on me until I was about to dive in that I remembered I beta read this! King has made some changes since then, so rereading it was a necessity and I definitely don't mind revisiting this world. While there are a few missed typos and oddities, The Auctorati is a very enjoyable read. I would have read this book faster (it's a pretty short book), but life caught up with me causing me to spend the better part of two weeks getting through it.
I'm trying to hammer out a reviewing scale for the books I read, and I think I've come up with a solution. I'm judging:
- Characters: how believable they are, their motivations, all around flashiness, etc.
- Story: Do I like the overall plot? The twists and turns? Are the memorable moments memorable?
- World: Do I know enough about the world, or is it not relevant? Can I explain why a certain thing is?
- Writing: Just my opinion on how things were done; and just
- My Feelings: How did it all make me feel
I generally love the characters in The Auctorati. I could have used a bit more fleshing them out, but for the size of the work, this was enough. Once I wrap my head around this being an urban fantasy (meaning there are cars and phones but also MAGIC and a different world and [spoilers!]), the story makes sense. I don't want to spoil anything, but the thing the group is trying to find forces me to make sure I have a solid grasp of the genre. I know this world already from his previous work, though another size constraint problem leads to little information about the world. Unless you've read the first book, you may not fully understand some of the quirks of this world. King could use another proofreader when writing, though this wouldn't be the only book I've read with typos. It happens, it's just a little more than usual. Overall, though? ... I like Pangaea more. I SAID IT. That's how I feel. Maybe it's because it was longer and more fleshed. Maybe I'm biased towards Slade and Doug. Maybe it's because... well, I know what happens in Pangaea. (There's a spoiler I'm keeping to myself.) While I enjoyed the backstory, I think I just wanted more. I'm sure King is working on more now, though. 😉
My Feelings: 3/5
Final Rating: 3 out of 5