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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
A quest to restore the heir of the murdered King Toloron to his rightful place as ruler over the provinces of Numeria rests on the fate of three special children, the Khuselas, marked with the sign of the Onyx Crown in Alan Hurst’s intriguing debut novel - The Onyx Crown. K’Nan, an infamous warrior, finds Jorann, the first of the children, among the Win-Daji hunters and starts his training immediately. Gesemni, the second of the Khuselas, spends his days as a companion to First Prince’s spoilt and witless children, until the day they use him as a scapegoat for their crimes and he flees from East Rhydor. The third Khusela, Sania, is a ward of a brothel until she kills three warriors who attack her home.
Alan Hurst weaves an intriguing tale that is one part coming-of-age for the three destined protectors of the royal heir and one part quest for justice in The Onyx Crown. Jorann, Gesemni, and Sania all follow different paths towards their destiny but Hurst uses small details and coincidences to link them. Although Hurst includes a variety of phrases and names in a foreign language, these are translated in text. The world-building feels a bit thin at times for me, despite Hurst’s inclusion of a variety of strange creatures, peoples, and places. The skirmishes in The Onyx Crown are savage and thrilling and a deadly tangle of political intrigue permeates this epic fantasy set in ancient Africa. The Onyx Crown is an entertaining addition to the list of epic fantasy novels based on African geography and myths.