• Kingdom of Liars

  • By: Nick Martell
  • Narrated by: John Skelley
  • Length: 15 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (79 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this brilliant debut fantasy, a story of secrets, rebellion, and murder are shattering the Hollows, where magic costs memory to use, and only the son of the kingdom’s despised traitor holds the truth.

Michael is branded a traitor as a child because of the murder of the king’s nine-year-old son by his father David Kingman. Ten years later on Michael lives a hardscrabble life, with his sister Gwen, performing crimes with his friends against minor royals in a weak attempt at striking back at the world that rejects him and his family. 

In a world where memory is the coin that pays for magic, Michael knows something is there in the hot white emptiness of his mind. So when the opportunity arrives to get folded back into court, via the most politically dangerous member of the kingdom’s royal council, Michael takes it, desperate to find a way back to his past. He discovers a royal family that is spiraling into a self-serving dictatorship as gun-wielding rebels clash against magically trained militia. 

What the truth holds is a set of shocking revelations that will completely change the Hollows, if Michael and his friends and family can survive long enough to see it.

©2020 Nicholas Macdonald-Martell (P)2020 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Kingdom of Liars

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Author shows promise but needs to work on a lot.

I wanted to like this book, granted that's partially just because it had a Sanderson quote on the front. The majority of this book isn't horrible, unfortunately there are bits of it that are, and those bits are arguably some of the more important ones.

The main character feels like Martell tried to make something new by taking pieces of several different archetypes and combining them. Unfortunately the result feels very forced as it lacks the rest of what makes those archetypes work.

Forced is actually a good word to describe the entirety of the book. The plot is runs by periodic reveals and twists, but there is little to no foreshadowing so they all feel hollow (pun intended). The magic system and world building are interesting, but again lack the refinement needed to really allow you to get invested.

All in all I probably won't be buying the second book when it comes out, but I hope he continues writing. Given some more time and practice I think Martell has promise.
Edit: actually I guess if I want him to keep writing I probably should buy the second book. Here's to hoping practice makes perfect!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A good story but far from great.

Interesting story, useless protagonist, promising world. Plot is a bit scattered. 3 out of Five.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Story, Totally Worth a Read

I was wary picking this up since a lot of people had difficulty with the main character, as well as many thinking the first half of the book was a slog. I can see how they would be frustrated with Michael, but I believe his flaws truly make the book, and I didn't find the story to be slow or a slog at all, I was halfway done on the first day! So I'd definitely give it a read

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

great plot

great plot writing is a bit rough. Good book overall. recommend. imaginative twists and turns

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Stick with it.

It’s a little bit slow in the beginning and there is a ton of information and characters. I almost put it down but I’m glad I stuck with it. I truly believe this could be the start of a fantastic epic. I’m excited for more!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, confusing narration.

Nick Martell mostly does a good job with the story. Just like any appropriately complex fantasy world, this one takes some time to adjust to upon starting a book, and that is amplified by the extremely unique magic system. Well worth reading. There are aspects of the writing that need work, but this is very good for a first effort. The main character is mildly infuriating on a regular basis, but it really seems to be intentional.

In a welcome departure from the last couple books I've started and not gotten through, the main characters are not horribly misogynistic or abusive. I don't get why we seem to usually put up with that stuff in high fantasy, and this series so far is an indication that it's not a requirement in order to have a good story.

However, if I had it to do over, I'd have simply bought the book to read. All the characters from a given country in the world basically have the same voice- even male and female characters sound the same. John Skelley seems to have one "dialogue" voice and one "narration" voice, and it gets very confusing to follow which character is actually speaking a given sentence. A lot of attention must constantly be paid to the order of things- more so than most books. Martell's writing does mitigate this somewhat, as his character voices are quite strong. Once you get used to the characters, it's fairly easy to identify which character was speaking purely based on their language patterns, even if the narrator is using the same speaking voice.

Overall, worth a credit- it's far better than many audiobooks, but you may find yourself (as I did) rewinding occasionally to make sense of a piece of dialogue.

Also, I think it's worth mentioning that I came to buy this audiobook and experience the story entirely because of Nick Martell's appearance on Brandon Sanderson's livestream a few weeks ago. In case anyone from the publisher is reading this, please take notes- authors talking to fans and answering questions over the internet is very valuable and entertaining.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Not big on the narrator, but the story is good.

There are definitely some clunky scenes here and there, but overall I still enjoyed the book. I like the potential of the magic system and the societies that form around it.
I think that Martell could have played with how magic influences the society and how the society influence the magic a little bit more.
Michael Kingman definitely needs some work, but to me it seems more like he is just trying to do his best but keeps making all of the wrong choices, and I can relate to that on some levels.
Some of the dialogue is a little clunky. A lot of, "I am going to kill you when I get the chance," but that never really seems to be fulfilled.

I was not a fan of the narrator. I don't have a very good memory (part of what drew me to this book) and I rely alot on the narration to keep track of who is who, but Skelley seems to only have 3 or 4 different voices that all sound generally the same.

Just got the second book, I can't wait to see how the story, the author, and the narrator grow.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Slow build, but great payoff

It took a little while for me to feel immersed in the story, but I'm glad I stuck it out. Atypical fantasy setting, diverse characters, interesting magic system, a plot with many threads that will keep you guessing, and a solid and satisfying ending. This is Martell's debut novel, so I imagine they will only get better from here!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

It feels like a new writer's book

I like the ideas here, but honestly this feels like an amateur book. There's a lot of very awkward dialogue transparently delivering exposition, characters feel stereotypical, pacing is very awkward. We are introduced to a new character who is then killed a few pages later, presumably to give us a sense of the seriousness of the situation, but we haven't known the character enough to care at all by the time he dies so it just falls awkwardly flat. There's a lot of stuff like this; it's not terrible but it feels very unpracticed and it's not enjoyable. I'll look forward to this author's later books, but for now it's not worth it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Worthy listen with a hiccup or two

There are some very clear Kingkiller Chronicle Influences throughout the book, but it is well written and very well performed. Much of the story only getting 4 stars is how transparent and predictable it is, but it's still a fun adventure I'll continue with the next one.