In The Weight of a Crown, Tavish Kaeden may have written the most ambitious book to appear in Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off.

Told primarily from the points of view of four characters, book one of the Azhaion Saga features a realm that is finally enjoying peace after centuries of conflict. But under the surface, actions are taking place that threaten to throw Esmoria back into conflict. Our protagonists, unlikely though they may be, find themselves in the center of that action.

Part of the reason the story feels so big is because our characters each have very different backgrounds and talents, and find themselves in entirely disparate storylines that only begin to come together at the end of the book. Jeina, a young woman forced to work in a silver mining camp, is supposed to be finding silver to help fund Prince Tobin’s army, but instead uncovers an old evil that may prove the perfect weapon for the sinister Tobin to accomplish his goals.

Nicolas, a young engraver’s apprentice, worries for his future as his fits – powerful strokes that knock him unconscious – continue to grow worse. When he collapses in the middle of the street, he’s fortunate enough to be taken to the traveling Jorj, who adopts Nicolas as his apprentice and explains the nature of his fits and shows him how to control them. But while the source of the fits gives Jorj great power, he doesn’t always use this power responsibly, leaving Nicolas doubting his new mentor while still needing Jorj’s teachings.

Xasho, a Curahshar warrior, is part of a war party that is led into a trap while battling Prince Tobin’s Marshlanders. Alongside his commander Boskaheed, Xasho is the only one to escape the trap thanks to his underground escape through a series of caverns. Along the way, he discovers a pair of daggers with spikes in the handle that leave his hands pained and bloodied, but also seem to endow him with near-supernatural speed and reactions. Xasho’s new-found abilities draw the attention of his people’s Johalid, who gives Xasho a mission the young warrior may not be up for.

Lord Bokrham is the only noble-born point of view character in the book, giving us a look at the larger politics taking place among the Marshlanders. Bokrham is a former woodsman elevated by the previous king, and as the Lord Commander finds himself in charge after the disappearance of Prince Kazick years prior. Unfortunately, Bokrham is spectacularly unsuited for the task, and has an almost unparalleled ability to anger everyone around him. With his support waning, Bokrham finds himself navigating political waters that threaten to drown himself – and possibly his kingdom along with him.

In books that feature multiple points of view such as this one, it can be a difficult task to ensure that the characters are all likeable and their stories are each compelling. Kaeden largely accomplishes that here – Nicolas, Jeina and Xasho are each relatable and while their stories and backgrounds are very different, I can’t point to one as my favorite favorite storyline. All three of them face unique challenges, and while none of the three brings an exceptional wit or humor to the proceedings, they’re all courageous in their own ways and very easy to root for.

Bokrham’s scenes reminded me strongly of George R.R. Martin’s ruminations on power in the Song of Fire and Ice series. Bokrham makes Ned Stark look like a political mastermind, and had he been unfortunate enough to find himself in one of Martin’s books, I have no doubt he would have quickly joined the long list of characters to bite the dust. Despite his clear inadequacies as a ruler, Bokrham doesn’t seem like an altogether bad guy, though his temper does get the better of him at inopportune moments. He presents an interesting character study, and I’m curious to see what Kaeden does with him in future installments in the series.

Kaeden does a good job of weaving all the threads together, and while most of our protagonists have yet to meet each other at the end of The Weight of a Crown, their different perspectives help to create a fully-realized world with a lot of moving parts. Of course, as Book 1 in the series, this story is just the beginning, and none of their stories truly concludes. If you pick this one up (the Kindle version is free on Amazon), be prepared to order the rest of the series.

This marks the fourth of the 10 finalists I’ve read in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, and it’s been a joy to see the wide range of stories, formats and worlds. The Weight of a Crown is the most ambitious of the finalists yet, juggling multiple characters from multiple nations. The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung was a straightforward first-person noir mystery. Bloodrush by Ben Galley was a western fantasy taking place in an alternate universe.

Each finalist was selected by a different fantasy review blog, so the diversity of stories clearly wasn’t coordinated, but we’ve still gotten as wide a range of styles and stories as you can imagine. It’s made the whole competition that much more enjoyable, even as it makes it harder to assign scores to each book. After all, how to you compare a 210-page noir mystery to the 577-page opening tome in an epic fantasy series?

At the end of the day, it simply comes down to readers’ tastes. If you’re looking for a new epic fantasy tale, The Weight of a Crown may be exactly what you’re looking for.


By Richard Bray

Richard Bray has been an avid fantasy reader since the fifth grade, when his father gave him a Lord of the Rings boxed set for Christmas. After earning his journalism degree from Texas A&M University, he spent more than 10 years writing, shooting photos and editing in the newspaper industry before transitioning to media relations. He lives with his fiancé and two dogs inside walls cluttered with St. Louis Cardinals jerseys and enough swords to arm a small fellowship – including, of course, replicas of Sting and Anduril.

2 thoughts on “The Weight of a Crown by Tavish Kaeden”
  1. Just started the book and so far am greatly enjoying how it is playing out. One note- it is not Prince Tobin’s troops that Xasho escaped. Tobin leads another nation that has been conquered by the Marshlanders

  2. I read “What Remains of Heroes” by David Benem before I started “The Weight of a Crown”.
    Now I’m 110 pages in the book and I must say that I like “The Weight of a Crown” a lot more than “What Remains of Heroes”. While reading “What Remains of Heroes” I lost more and more contact to the stories and the characters. It was more like an overlong prologue to a story which may start in the sequel.

    So far I have no clue where and when the main characters of “The Weight of a Crown” will meet,

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