High Fantasy

Review: King’s Mark

Cover of "King's Mark," featuring a dark-haired girl with tiger stripes on her arms standing on a cliff above a city
Image from Stephanie Herman; used by permission

Title: King’s Mark

Series: The Orphaned City #1

Author: Stephanie Herman

Genre: High Fantasy

Back Cover:

Nearly a century ago, the immortal King disappeared. Now, his Marked servants are hunted as demons and his land is falling into chaos. Three Marked have survived: a river princeling, an exiled mercenary, and a street urchin. Faced with overwhelming odds and blessed – or cursed – with a magic they cannot control, these three must fight to save the people and land they love.


The summary of King’s Mark was vague, but I picked it up on the interesting premise – Marked people with special powers. I wasn’t sure how good it’d be, but I figured what the heck, I’d try it.

Leti, the river princeling, was sheltered and naive. I’m not sure how old he was, but I’d guess eleven or twelve. He was innocent and trusting and…well, child-like. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t my favorite of King’s Mark‘s point of view characters.

Chay was my favorite. I loved her determined, never-give-up attitude and her loyalty to her group of orphans. Her situation as a “streetfly” also intrigued me. And I was extremely curious why she pretended to be blind. Her whole gritty, rough part of the story was awesome.

Del Nyla, the mercenary, was only okay. I kind of liked her kick-butt manner and skills, but she sometimes came across as too rough to be likeable. She had a softer side, though, but that’s practically ignored until the very end. I honestly think I would have liked her better if the author had focused more on her soft side – maybe pitted it against her assassin attitude.

I loved the plot. In the beginning, there’s three characters living totally different lives, and I had no idea how they were going to come together. But they did, into a conspiracy and rebellion. Betrayals, battle scenes, tangled plotlines up until the very end…I loved it. And I loved how Chay shone (have I mentioned she’s awesome?).

I also loved the idea of the King’s Marked – people born with dark, tattoo-like marks and special powers. That’s the gist of it, although there’s a whole lot more details that fall into place throughout King’s Mark. It was brilliantly imagined and explained.

This was a long book, but I think it could have been longer. Del Nyla and Maro especially could have benefited from some extra character development. I think Del Nyla should have worked more with Chay and Leti. And I wouldn’t object to reading more of Chay (have I mentioned how awesome she is?).

King’s Mark is one of those books that makes me glad I don’t use a rating system. It’s too hard to rate. I loved Chay; I could take or leave the rest of the characters. I loved the plot and the idea, but I think the author could have done more with the emotional angle. Overall, it’s a pretty equal mix of good and not-so-good. But I don’ t regret the read.

I received a free review copy of King’s Mark from the author. Her generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The Orphaned City series:

  1. King’s Mark

1 thought on “Review: King’s Mark”

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