Children of Kings
by E.S. Ramirez
Genre: Historical Fiction / Action & Adventure
Print Length: 344 pages
Reviewed by Akram Herrak
An epic historical tale of revolution, change, and loss in a spellbinding land
E. S. Ramirez’s vision of Alto Peru in the early 19th century is pulsing with life and detail, filled to the brim with the little things that immerse us. These historical worldbuilding details are the main reason I couldn’t put this book down— mesmerized by place amid this story spanning decades. I was so invested in the world and its people that I didn’t want to leave it.
Children of Kings is beautifully deliberate with its timeline. Its story starts at what could be called a climax, in a battlefield where Juana Azurduy is trying to survive. Then, we are sent back 25 years into the past to witness her upbringing and family life.
A seemingly quiet and wholesome life promises upcoming turmoil, if not soon then in 25 years, but Juana’s violent fate begins to unravel when her father is shot to death and her aunt sends her to a convent for 10 years.
Coming back a decade later, she finds that everything has changed. She still attempts to start a family and succeeds at doing so, and momentarily she is able to achieve the life she wants. But a revolution is brewing in her land against the Spanish occupiers, and it will force her to make some difficult decisions. Especially since she finds herself in the frontlines of it.
“But today, she was hoping that if there truly was a God somewhere watching, his benevolent eyes would linger a bit longer on this corner of the world.”
Loss, faith, family, vengeance, greater causes, belonging—the novel explores these themes beautifully through an epic story. Children of Kings never gets too philosophical or self-indulgent, always prioritizing showing over telling. It feels like watching a classic epic western, something made in 40s or 50s Hollywood. The setting is different, as are the characters, the conflicts, and the motives, but the grandiose feeling of adventure in a great land is replicated perfectly.
Juana inspires awe in the most human way possible: imperfectly heroic. She is one of the strongest and most impressive protagonists that I’ve had the pleasure of reading as of late. She is not perfect by any stretch, but she has values and sticks by them. A land in need of a hero, a hero in search of what it takes to save the land, Juana is the cornerstone of this story, the John Wayne of The Searchers.
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