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on 23 October 2013
First of all, I have to admit I couldn't finish 'Kingmaker'. I got about two thirds of the way through before giving up for good - and I really, really hate not finishing a work of fiction - so make of the following what you will based on that information.

A lot of sci-fi and fantasy novels I've seen on Amazon lately have been (as far as I can tell at least) the work of self-published authors, works that might be somewhat generic or derivative but nonetheless enjoyable if they weren't rendered all-but inaccessible by a horrendous lack of editing, or even proof-reading: poor grammar, incoherent narratives, and sometimes simply terrible writing abounds. As such, I was pleasantly surprised by the extremely high level of language on display in 'Kingmaker'. Not only does Cantrell seem to have a much better grasp of the English language than a lot of other writers competing in this increasingly-crowded market, 'Kingmaker' also gives the impression of having actually been proofread, which was a nice change. In addition, near-future sci-fi it might be, but 'Kingmaker' seems to take a lot of its inspiration from cyberpunk, creating a rich and coherent world in which to set its action.

However, this is where I took issue with the novel: much of this (admittedly fascinating) world is presented to us in huge chunks (often at least five pages on my Kindle) of flat description in the narrator's voice, rather than via exploration or through the eyes of the characters - that is, there's a lot of 'telling', and not much 'showing' - which not only broke up the narrative, but also made the world seem somewhat dry and distant, rather than vibrant and living. This touches on my second gripe: we're frequently told what 'Kingmaker''s characters are doing, but not why, or what they're feeling about what's going on. Indeed, I was frankly mystified as to the protagonist's motivations for anything he did, at any point. Clearly there's some sort of plan underpinning his actions, but without knowing what was going on in his head, it was impossible to empathise with him on any level. Given the very character-heavy focus of the book, this was extremely alienating, and between the lack of emotional depth and the pages-long enumeration of weapon-systems and political histories, I couldn't help but mentally apply the adjectives 'slightly autistic' to the text as a whole. (Or at least those parts of it I ended up reading.)

Finally, there's the problem that several other reviews have raised: the timeline of events described in 'Kingmaker' is beyond confusing. While I'm appreciative of the attempt to employ something other than a simple linear progression of chapters, as the novel progressed it became frankly impossible to know where in the book's timeline any given scene was taking place. If this had been deliberate (or at least not interfered with my understanding) then I could have lived with it, maybe even enjoyed it. As it was, however, I found 'Kingmaker''s narrative structure frustrating and obstructive to both my comprehension and my enjoyment.

A big question for me whenever I read a book I don't like by an author I don't know is 'would I read another book by this author?' Usually, the answer's an easy 'no', but in this case I might be willing to give another work by Cantrell a read - provided it's not a sequel to 'Kingmaker', at any rate, as this book gave me absolutely no reason to care about what happened to any of its characters.
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on 1 December 2013
Picked this up on a Kindle sale thinking I'd give it a go and if it wasn't any good, it was only a couple of quid - but I thoroughly enjoyed it! I hadn't read anything by Cantrell before, but this was very readable, very enjoyable and I'd recommend it.

I honestly have no idea why others have described it as 'incomprehensible', I thought some of the ideas were very cleverly thought out and the point of the main storyline is subtlety..!

If you're looking for something solid by an author you don't know, give it a go.
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on 27 February 2014
Its a good read apart from the superfluous and long descriptions. I just ended up skipping over those sections as I learned they weren't generally relevant. Now you might say that's why I found some story threads went nowhere as I missed key parts, but I really don't think so. I think the author tried to tell an elaborate story that spanned decades in too much detail . Perhaps it was edited down to fit a certain number if pages. Whatever happened I enjoyed it but did not find it easy to read or follow.
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on 28 November 2013
This is a brilliant book set in the not too distant future and you do wonder where it will take you next and where these characters will finish up. In many ways this book portrays a credible future with Guandong dollars being the world currency of the time. a very enjoyable read with some remorse at the demise of certain characters in a similar way to the film Pulp Fiction
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on 24 October 2013
I started reading this and felt it was rather silly and predictable but then noticed that I had an action film soundtrack playing in my head, possibly Spooks or Mission Impossible. Genuinely diverting and entertaining. You even forgive the clunky epilogue and obvious sentimentality. The writer likes and admires his hero and you can't help doing so too. Daft nonsense but I loved it! More Alexei please!
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on 2 March 2014
I found this book confusing because of the way that the author uses the lives/experiences of his characters to keep the.action going - but in a disjointed way, jumping back and forth in time so that I had to keep referring back to keep track of what was supposed to be going on.
I did persevere to the end as I hoped for some resolution or even explanation. Not to be however!
If you are NOT looking for a book at bedtime and like a really complicated "plot" then this is the one for you! If not - give it a wide berth!
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on 16 February 2014
Fabulous intriguing and absorbing book. Loved the fact I couldn't best guess where or when the next chapter would be set.
Thought provoking and bristling with super advanced spy "stuff"
Not my usual genre but so glad I took a leap of faith and read it. Looking out for next book
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on 22 October 2013
I loved the way this misdirected you at the start, making it seem Alexis was a the evil Russian crook, then turns it all round. Then gives anther twist at the end. Fast paced and twisty and definitely a cautionary tale about how to lose democracy to greed.
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on 1 November 2013
I enjoyed this novel . It took me a while to get into it since I thought it was going to be a standard thriller . It was better than that and an enjoyable read . It's difficult to say much more without spoiling the plot .
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on 22 October 2013
Superb! A little difficult at first to follow the time switches, but it all comes together beautifully. If ever there was a need for telling an author to hurry up with a sequel this is it.
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