The Price of Power by Michael Michel


Prince Barodane could not hold back the darkness. Not even in himself. He laid an innocent city in its grave and then died a hero.

In his absence, war whispers across the land.

Power-hungry highborn dispatch spies and assassins to the shadows as they maneuver for the throne, while an even greater threat rises in the South. Monsters and cultists flock to the banners of a mad prophet determined to control reality…and then shatter it.

Destiny stalks three to the brink of oblivion.

A dead prince that isn’t actually dead. Barodane buried his shameful past in a stupor of drugs, drink, and crime, and now, he’d rather watch the world fall apart than wear a crown again.

An orphan with hero’s blood who is forced to make a harrowing choice: betray her country or sacrifice her first love.

And a powerful seer who has no choice at all–her grandson must die.

If any of them fails to pay the price…

The cost will be the world’s complete annihilation.


The Price of Power is a debut dark fantasy novel perfect for fans of slow-burn, character driven stories.

Beyond a doubt the highlight of this book for me was the characters. We have 4 main POVs and numerous side characters that are all well developed. Each of them is flawed and complex, as most real people are, and watching them develop really sucked me into the story. As you could guess from the title of the book, a large part of the character development for each character is their struggle with power, albeit each in a very different way. Each of the POVs is distinct from the others and none of them interact with each other at all in this first book of the series. I will be interested to see how these characters interact with each other in future books.

Ishoa is the future crown princess of a nation trying her best to live up to her family’s legacy but believing that she never can. Her uncle Barodane is the Mad Prince everyone believes is dead, but really he is hiding in a small town, tormented over his past decisions. Thephos, son of a pig farmer, who is climbing the mountain Unturrus hoping to die, but destined to become an Awakened if he reaches the top. And an old crone who is an Awakened, one of the magic users of this world, training her grandson so that one day he may die. If you like intrigue and deception in your fantasy, you will find a lot to like in this book.

In regard to pacing, it is definitely a slow burn, there isn’t a lot of action until the last 20% or so of the novel. But that doesn’t stop it from being a gripping read. I became fully invested in each character very quickly and I was never bored. The author slowly builds the tension for each POV over the course of the book, culminating in an explosive ending.

I really enjoyed the world building elements of the novel as well. You can tell the author knows the details of his world but we never get bogged down in dumps of exposition. We are given enough information to give us context but there is still a lot of the world to explore in future books. There are many unique elements to this world, at least so far we don’t see any of the classic fantasy creatures, but we do get giant war snakes with antlers, although we don’t see much of them in this first book. The magic is also very interesting. Normal people undertake a journey which most do not survive, if they do though, they receive magic powers unique to each individual. At this stage the magic is very soft and we know next to nothing about it. And while I wish there had been more of it in this book, I expect that we will learn more going forward.

I have heard this book described as grimdark, but as always I think this will depend on what you consider grimdark. While there are gruesome moments of violence and death, it is not very common, which may be due more to the slow burn nature of the novel than anything else. Having said that, the atmosphere of the book is very bleak, most of the characters are bereft of any hope and for the most part nothing good happens to them. So you decide for yourself if you consider this one grimdark.

If you like character driven, slow-burn epic fantasy set in a dark world then you can’t go wrong with The Price of Power. I highly recommend giving this book a try.