Monday, 6 October 2014

The High King's Embalmer #1 by S. Copperstone

*Free copy of the book provided by the author in exchange of a honest review*

Published: July 4th 2014 by Smashwords Edition

Goodreads Summary: On a planet very much like Earth, Jibade, the royal family’s shape-shifting embalmer, is intent on finding those behind the assassination attempts of the family. To further complicate things, he is kidnapped by bounty hunters, escapes, but finds himself hunted by the king’s own men. Can he find the source behind the deaths before the heirs of the family are extinguished?


If The High King’s Embalmer and I were a couple, I would define our relationship as complicated.

My feelings kept juggling from bored to intrigued to annoyed to intrigued once again. This whirlwind of emotion kept showing up in the same order from the moment I opened the novel until I finished it. 

Jibade belongs to a race of shapeshifter called The OutdorKem. He and many other of his race have been exiled from their world and are now enslaved on the planet Ocana.

His main goal throughout the novel is not to find a way out of slavery but to protect the royal family whom he serves from those who wish their demise. 

This is what bothered me in this book. I knew that Jibade hated being a slave, I knew that he wished that all OudorKem would be free and I knew that some sort of spell prevented him from causing the royal family any harm because he was related to them through his mother. 

Even thought, I was aware of all these facts, I couldn’t comprehend his staunchness to the royal family. Most of the time, they treated him like a filthy animal and every now and then, they would act as if he was a useful but rebellious pet that needs to be educated. 

They did nothing that made me feel like they deserved his obedience.

I’m not saying Jibade should have started a revolution, but he could have at least tried to slowly and discreetly dismantle the Power That Be.

I didn’t see what was so wrong with the man villain’s plan for him (those who haven’t read the book won’t be able to understand what I’m trying to say).

Reading The High King’s Embalmer made me realise, that “liking” or “disliking” a book isn’t always a straightforward process.

In terms of storyline, plot and maybe even character development, S. Copperstone’s book is somewhat lacking.

At times, many times actually, I wasn’t sure where the story was going. Or rather, I should say, I wasn’t sure where the author wanted to bring his story, nor the themes he wanted to explore.

There were several scenes that I believe slowed the story and were unnecessary to its development. Furthermore, I found some of Jibade’s action puzzling.

On top of that, there isn’t any real difference between the Jibade from the beginning and the one from the end. His mental state and attitude to life is more and much of the same: I Shall Protect My Master Until Death Makes Us Part!

By the end of the book, our hero has a new owner. She’s (yes it’s a she) definitely nicer than his previous master. However, I don’t think she deserved him and his capacity. I wish he would just sr**w her and the royal family and get on with his own life. 

I suppose that in the next book, he’ll try more actively to free his kind (and himself) from slavery.

The worldbuilding was also a bit all other the place.

It was a mix between an ancient Egypt like civilization and a somewhat modern Western world and I felt a bit lost. I had some difficulty imagining the world in which the main character’s adventures take place.

That being said, I can’t say that I disliked S. Copperstone’s book. While I was bored and annoyed at times, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t interested by the Oudor Kem, the political intrigues that led many of them to exile and how they might earn their freedom once again.

Except, for Anna whom I thought was the stereotype of the young, sweet and innocent girl who has hope for a fairer world, all the other characters were interesting. 

There were many layers of mystery surrounding them, which were peeled as the book went on. Furthermore, there are still a lot of questions hanging in the air.

By the way, don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoyed Jibade. Beneath his cold exterior, I thought there was a person that wanted to be loved.

Reading The High King’s Embalmer felt like going through a rollercoaster of emotion. Yet, when I finished the book, I would have really enjoyed having the next one in the series in hand.


  1. Really great review, Carla! Not sure if I'll pick this up, mostly because I'm REALLY critical about books that portray slavery (especially since my slavery course in uni), but you perfectly and eloquently stated what worked for you and what didn't work for you, as well as the merits and shortcomings of the book. Great job! :)

  2. Hi!

    Thank you!

    Having read other books that dealt with slavery, I thought there was nothing that couldn't be handled in The High King's Embalmer. There was no scene where I was close tears or something like that. But I was seriously angry at Jibade's masters.

  3. Hm, this sounds like a book you had mixed feelings about! I don't think I will pick it up, because I don't know if I could withhold my inner battle. I am just glad that it wasn't all bad and you were able to enjoy it somewhat as well, albeit it frustrating sometimes!

  4. Thanks for commenting! I have mixed feelings for this book. At times, I was seriously annoyed, but at other time, I was like " this is actually pretty good"


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