My rating: 4 / 5
The Kobalos trilogy comes to a close with Dark King of the North. In City of Rogues we met Kron Darkbow and saw him wage a war of vengeance on local crime lord Belgad the Liar. In Road to Wrath he set out with Randall Tendbones and Adara Corvus to confront the freakishly powerful Lord Verkain, pursued by Verkain's war demons, an angry Belgad, and a professional duelist with grudges against Kron and Adara. Now, in Dark King of the North, everything comes to a head.
There's a potential issue in this story with Kron encountering enemies and allies so powerful that he becomes superfluous. However, even as war demons and a mage of mind-boggling power on one side do battle with a powerful wizard and a reincarnated god on the other side, there is still plenty of mayhem for Kron to revel in.
One of the beautiful things about the trilogy is how the story has been building up to this bigger-than-epic confrontation. Verkain is a horrifically dangerous opponent, and the stakes have risen and risen until Kron has no choice but to somehow try to stop him. The price he pays is high. He gets hurt. He loses friends. He gets hurt more. The things he tries blow up in his face, and he just has to pick up the pieces and try again.
It's very powerful storytelling, and it brings the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. If you liked the earlier books you'll like this one. Dark King of the North could work as a stand-alone novel, but I'd definitely recommend reading the other books first.
I think I can see the author improving, as well. Ty Johnston is a writer to watch, constantly challenging himself, writing in various genres, expanding and honing his skills. The prose is still a bit rough, but it has improved over the earlier books. The kick-ass storytelling is still intact and working fine.
At three bucks it's a bargain, but there is now a Kobalos Trilogy omnibus edition that will save you a few bucks. It's gritty, hard-edged, action-packed sword and sorcery adventure, and I recommend you check it out.
The Kobalos Trilogy Omnibus on Smashwords
Dark King of the North on Smashwords