Neil Josten is out of time. He knew when he came to PSU he wouldn’t survive the year, but with his death right around the corner he’s got more reasons than ever to live.
Befriending the Foxes was inadvisable. Kissing one is unthinkable. Neil should know better than to get involved with anyone this close to the end, but Andrew’s never been the easiest person to walk away from. If they both say it doesn’t mean anything, maybe Neil won’t regret losing it, but the one person Neil can’t lie to is himself.
He’s got promises to keep and a team to get to championships if he can just outrun Riko a little longer, but Riko’s not the only monster in Neil’s life. The truth might get them all killed—or be Neil’s one shot at getting out of this alive.
The King’s Men was a finale worth the amazing series it is of. There were so many plot arcs and so much going on, that finishing it seems like I have been reading it forever. It was a wild ride, to say the least. After Neil’s training/torture session at the Raven’s Nest, he returns to the Foxes, broken body but not broken spirit. Seeing his state and the newly inked tattoo Riko put on him, the Foxes are understandably outraged and out for blood. Then, sober Andrew makes a reappearance and Neil, always curious about Andrew starts to feel a change in their friendship. The fact that Andrew makes his attraction clear but is not ready to act on it stirs Neil into finally realizing his sexuality, but they both see it as a casual fling in the start. However, romance is hardly bound to be the main focus of a multi-layered plot like this, so all the previous dangers that Neil was running from, make an appearance in the finale.
Once again, the book is painful at some places – Neil really can’t catch a break, poor guy. Those scenes were hard to read through, and worse was how the Foxes react to it. You can see that despite the team not being united on the court, when it comes to Neil they all love him too much to not be on the same side. And Neil, who had made his mission to fade away by the end of the year, for him to be so loved – that was so heart-warming. It has been a tremendously eventful journey for him, right from the boy on the run to the man who now stands his ground. Not to say everything worked out the way he wanted – he had to make some compromises, but the family and friends he gains overall feel like a prize for his pain. For their part, the Foxes, including Coach and Abby make for a dysfunctional but loving family.
Not that this book is all pain and gloom though. There are some amazing game scenes – Exy being sort of like lacrosse, it wasn’t that difficult to imagine it, but the writing shines through in such scenes, bringing it out vividly in your mind. Another place the writing really speaks is between the characters – the subtle setting of the scene, the slow unveiling of feelings and emotions through gestures rather than words; it all speaks for a well-thought out process. And of course, the budding romance between Neil and Andrew is too hot to handle. I liked that Andrew starts to come out of his prickly thorn cage a little more, and considering his past, it is a big progress on his part, but sometimes I did wish he wasn’t so controlling! The team sort of united in the end, I guess, but a lot of the book was still spent on them squabbling among each other. It is pretty realistic, if you think about it, the way most of the threads were tied up, and from the start it has been a great series, so this book has all my love.
Trigger warning: torture, violence