The Almost King

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Young author Lucy Saxon is sticking firmly with fantasy with her second novel. The Almost King follows 17-year-old Aleks Vasin, a brave boy hoping to unburden the financial strain on his family by running away join the army. Despite his heroic intentions the corrupt system forces him into a secret unit of the army, a world away from the professional training programme the newscasts show.

The second base is a prison and it isn't long before Aleks is on the run again. A fateful encounter with an inventor and the greatest ship the world has ever seen sets Aleks on a path that will take him directly to the King he respects so much. Pained by the realisation that his leader is surrounded by a corruption he can't see, he hopes his efforts will mean the truth will finally be out. But Aleks's reputation will precede him, and the loving King might not take too kindly to a deserter the people are calling The Common King.

Action packed and a neat premise that resists spiralling out of control within its fantasy landscape. The story sticks close to Aleks's plight, and there is a sensitive nod to romance that adds to the urgency of his adventure. It's a well-plotted tale of power and corruption with a likeable hero and a world that feels fully realised. Lucy Saxon is a writer to watch!

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