Jason King’s Valcoria immerses the reader in a well-thought out, deep world with a rich history. A personal irk of mine is when technology creeps into a fantasy work. More often than not, it turns me off. In Valcoria, however, King combines elements of an ancient ruined civilization (technology) in a way that does not feel ‘tacked on’ as it so often does. Also, there are no elves, dragons, dwarves or any overt “wizards” – so the emergence of technology does not feel out of place.
The characters are conflicted, many are torn between loyalty to duty and their own desire, some between courage and cowardice, others between family and power, and all struck me as believable. Throughout the book, chapter headings tease with a tale of a fallen ruler as they reveal the history of the world. There was no “magic” in the traditional fantasy sense, instead a sense of mysticism based on manipulating the energy of one’s soul (Jia) channeled in one of a number of ways (healing, boosting strength/speed, teleportation) depending on which lineage a person descended from.
King’s narrative alternates from one character to another to show the story from multiple angles and brings us closer to all of the major characters. Occasionally I found it irksome to shift to another character’s perspective, but I think that was due to me wanting to get back to (and find out what happened) with a previous character. Some are more complex (Yuiv) than others (Lorta – who at times can be archetypical), but I enjoyed the portrayals and found the characters well done.
Overall, between the effort put into crafting the world and its pantheon, and the storytelling, Valcoria is a worthy addition to any bookshelf.