Author: Edmond Manning
Publisher: Pickwick Ink Publishing
Rating: 5 stars
Type: Novel From Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: English attorney Alistair Robertson can’t quite believe an astonishing tale of kingship and transformation he hears at Burning Man, the annual counter-culture art festival in the Black Rock desert. Who are the Found Kings? Is “being kinged” as magical as it sounds?
Determined to find the mysterious garage mechanic named Vin who helps men “remember who they were always meant to be,” Alistair catches his quarry amid the extravagant sculptures, fire worshipers, mutant cars, and lavish costumes. After searching for three years, he’ll finally get to ask the question burning inside him: “Will you king me?”
Wandering together through the desert, Vin Vanbly and Alistair explore Burning Man’s gifting culture and exotic traditions, where they meet the best and worst of their fellow burners. Alistair’s overconfidence in Vin’s manipulative power collides with Vin’s obsessive need to save a sixteen-year-old runaway from a nightmarish fate, and the two men spiral into uncontrollable, explosive directions.
In this fourth adventure of The Lost and Founds, beneath the sweltering summer sun and the six billion midnight stars, one truth emerges, searing itself on their hearts: in the desert, everything burns.
Review: King John is the fourth book in the Lost and Found series. The books are not really standalone and should be read in order to gain the most understanding of the over-arching themes that are foundations the stories are built on.
It’s 2002 and Vin Vanbly is once again in his spiritual home – Burning Man, an annual week long festival held in a Nevada desert that celebrates art, uniqueness and radical acceptance. Amidst the space robots, sparkle ponies and the myriad of other colourful characters we meet fleetingly, Vin notices a man in a purple sarong who keeps popping up in his periphery. Alistair has been seeking the elusive “Kingmaker” for the last few years after hearing a story from a man named Liam at a previous Burning Man about the King Weekend that profoundly changed his life. When the Englishman in the purple sarong finally manages to catch Vin, he uses all of his formidable powers of persuasion gained from his profession as a lawyer to convince Vin to grant him a King Weekend. At first reluctant – he had no calling that there was a man ready to be Found, and Vin just knew there was something major Alistair was hiding – something pulls him towards the seemingly confident man who’s persistence has a hint of desperation wrapped in wistful determination. As the King Weekend progresses, it seems for all the desire Alistair has to become a Found King, his own insistence on questioning every move could be the sabotaging of his own Kinging.
Edmond Manning has a way of describing things so beautifully, yet so succinctly that you feel like you were there, that you saw it with your own eyes. The location in which each story is set has very much been a secondary character in previous books of this series, a rich backdrop for the story taking place. But in King John, that is lifted to a whole other level – Burning Man is an integral participant, alive and exuberant in its role. It abets and enhances the story with shining enthusiasm and does it gloriously.
Vin Vanbly is a wonderfully unreliable narrator. A master manipulator, as he must be to guide his men to their Kingship, who sees so little of his own value. He finds it so hard to believe he is worthy of being loved. To see that he is loved. We learn so much more about him in King John, yet we are left with more questions than ever. This enigmatic, damaged, beautiful man has a story full of pain yet he finds such joy in his amazing Kings. It is his inability to see the amazing within himself that is the most heartbreaking to me.
Alistair drove me crazy at times. His incessant questioning of everything and his selfish disregard to see the sacrifices Vin willingly makes to guide him made me want to shake him! A lot! When his refusal to truly submit to Vin and just listen results in a serious situation made worse, it becomes the tipping point for him to choose who he wants to be – Alistair the English lawyer, or the man he is truly meant to be. By the end, I had fallen as much in love with this King as I had Perry, Mai and Rance previously.
This book has a slightly different feel to it than the ones before it. They were very much focused on the men being Kinged. In this one there’s an added layer, a sense of momentum picking up, of building towards something Important (no, the capital I is not a typo).The ending feels like it’s setting up the next book to be a pivotal one. I love the layers, the subtleties, that are woven through the stories in this series and I’m eager to see where it all leads and what we learn of, and from, Vin and his Kings in future books.
The author, through Vin, takes not only the man being kinged, but also the reader on an amazing journey through the surreal, the ordinary, the pain of loss and the beauty of being Found. The words are beautiful, the imagery is stunning. King John is a carefully crafted story that weaves its song straight into your heart. I cannot recommend this remarkable book enough.