The Eyes of a King (The Last Descendants Series #1)

The Eyes of a King (The Last Descendants Series #1)

3.4 15
by Catherine Banner

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FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD LEO NORTH’S prospects in life are limited. He attends military school, lives with his fearful grandmother, and looks after his brother Stirling. He resists his innate powers, because those who demonstrate any sort of magical ability are considered enemies of the state. But when he finds a blank book in the snow, his typical indifference melts


FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD LEO NORTH’S prospects in life are limited. He attends military school, lives with his fearful grandmother, and looks after his brother Stirling. He resists his innate powers, because those who demonstrate any sort of magical ability are considered enemies of the state. But when he finds a blank book in the snow, his typical indifference melts away. From the first moment he touches the book, he senses its strange power. Passages start to appear on the pages—revealing family secrets, telling the history of Malonia, and uncovering the story of Ryan and Anna, two teens from a parallel universe. When Leo’s seemingly narrow path takes an unexpected tragic turn, he finds himself on a journey from which he can never really return. And, as he slowly begins to lose touch with reality, Ryan and Anna’s story comes to the forefront. Their idyllic summer romance—seemingly worlds away from Leo—has everything to do with Malonia.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Beth Karpas
Leo North lives in Malonia, a country on a plane parallel to England. The two nations share the same stars, but each views the other as a fairy tale. In Malonia, however, magic is real. Ten years ago after a coup, the crown prince disappeared, supposedly to England. Now Leo, fifteen, finds a book with the story of that fifteen-year-old prince, the spy Aldebaran, and a young English girl. The setup is perfect for a fascinating fantasy; however, the novel falls short of its promise. Leo's story is one of consistent loss, beginning with the illness and death of his eight-year-old brother, Stirling, which takes more than a quarter of the book and leaves the reader wanting to skip ahead to the portions in England. Leo's immersion in depression for the second half of the book is also drawn out too long. The reader feels every day of the month that passes yet there is no empathy for Leo. Depression and mourning are serious, but this book makes the reader think, "Get over it already!" The book ends with, "Everyone's life is sad. Everyone cries. Everyone thinks they're falling sometimes. But in the end, we learn to survive." The heavy focus on those first three sentences serves to exclude the third. If Leo had actually thrived as well as survived, perhaps the book would be worth it. As it is, this reader wonders if surviving the book was worth the time. Reviewer: Beth Karpas
Kirkus Reviews
An interesting framing story wraps around this tale of Leo, a 15-year-old military cadet in a heavily Christian fantasy land ruled by a heavy-handed usurper. In the country of Malonia, which resembles an early industrial England except for the magic practiced by the "great ones," all boys know they will eventually be conscripted in the war against neighboring Alcyria. Leo pays as little attention as he can in military school, focusing instead on his beloved baby brother and on the magical book in which stories of the mythical land of England appear spontaneously. Tragedy strikes Leo's family, and he becomes overwhelmed with his own grief, ignoring the needs of his loved ones and of his war-torn nation. Though the Malonian timeline and the magical book's England interweave cleverly, the slow pace and Leo's introspection distract from the compelling interaction. Leo spends too much time observing and too little having any effect on the events of his family and his world to be an exciting portal character into this otherwise well-crafted narrative structure. (Fantasy. 12-14)
From the Publisher
“A fantasy marked by invention rarely seen from authors this young. . . . A sneak peek at a rising talent.” Booklist

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Last Descendants Series , #1
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 - 16 Years

Read an Excerpt

These are the last words I will write. “Tell me everything from the beginning,” you said. “Explain to me why you did it.” I have. There is nothing left to tell you anymore.

The dust drifts across the paving of the silent balcony. A dark wind—the first wind of autumn—rifles through the pages and draws the stars behind it into the fading sky. Light and laughter are rising from the rooms far below; still farther below that, the lights of the city are emerging in the settling darkness. When you were here, half an hour ago, you lit a lamp for me. The breeze makes it waver now and turns the pages back to the beginning. This book is the past five years of my life. How can I close it now?

I do not have the strength to go down into the noise and the light of the party. So I turn the pages of the book instead, tracing the words I wrote. There are parts of this story that still haunt my dreams, that repeat themselves in all my waking thoughts and refuse to let go. But I did not begin by writing about those things.

I began with the book, and the snow.


The snow began to fall as I walked home. It was dark, though barely five o’clock, and cold. My breath billowed white in the darkness and everything was quiet. Even the jangle and thud of the soldiers’ horses seemed deadened. The flakes were so cold that they almost burned where they touched my face, and they lodged on my clothes and stuck fast. I tried to brush them away and pulled my coat up tighter about my neck.

I was used to snow—we all were—but not at the end of May. It looked set to stay cold for at least a week. We got more than enough snow in the winter.

There was a sort of beauty in it, I suppose. The clouds had closed like a lid over the narrow squares of sky, and already the gas lamps were lit. The snow caked on their panes and glowed yellow. I stopped still, and then it was almost completely silent, without even the wet crunch of my footsteps. Quiet, not silent. Through the still air I could hear the feathery sound of the snowflakes settling.

I looked up into the sky. The way the snowflakes swelled in toward my face made me feel as if I was rising. It got darker. It got colder.

I started to think about going home, but I didn’t.

I began to shiver, but I went on staring into the sky. It got still darker. I would have stood there all night, perhaps. It was like an enchantment. And I did not want to go home yet anyway. The constant frantic motion of the snowflakes made me dizzy, and my neck ached from looking upward. Still the snow fell. I was hypnotized.

Suddenly I felt someone was near to me. The spell was broken. I was back in the street again.

I looked around, but there was no one. Only a presence in the air, as if someone was hiding in the shadows. I felt sick suddenly. There were ghosts here perhaps, invisible spirits moving close by. I turned away.

Before I had taken three steps, my foot met with something heavy and I stumbled. There was a black shape in the snow, spotted with the flakes my feet had thrown up. At first I thought it was a dead animal—a rat perhaps—lying there frozen.

I bent closer. And I saw that it was not an animal at all but a book. Just a book. I reached out toward it cautiously. I could still feel a strange presence—someone else’s thoughts like a vapor in the air.

I willed the book’s cover to lift itself, with the slightest tensing of my fingers and my mind. It didn’t stir. That was a trick I’d known for years, and it usually worked. Although it was only a cheap trick, no more. It did not even work on the Bible.

I was suspicious of the book. I did not know if I should touch it. Perhaps it would be better to leave it where it was. I turned to walk away. But I could not. I was going to pick it up; I knew I was. It was unavoidable. There was no point in reasoning with myself, then.

My fingers drew close to the dark leather of the cover even before I had decided. I watched them hover above it for a moment, as if they were someone else’s. I tried to pull my hand away. I couldn’t. For a second I was frightened. Then my fingers closed around the book, and at the same moment the presence vanished. I picked the book up and flipped the cover open.

The pages were stiff and suntanned yellow, like sheets of bone. The first one was blank. I turned to the next. Nothing. The next one and the next one, too, were empty. I fanned the pages out loose, impatiently, bending the covers back almost to breaking point, so that the dry glue in the spine bristled. They were all blank.

The weather had changed while I had looked away. The wind growled through the narrow streets, the pitch of its voice heightening. The snowflakes dashed at my face like ground glass. My jaw ached with cold, and my fingers on the book’s cover were raw and wet from the melting snow. I pushed the book into my coat pocket and set off for home.

Later, when I held the book to the light of the oil lamp in the bedroom, I wondered if I should have left it where it was. There was a strangeness about it that made me uneasy. I had been sure that there was someone behind me in the street, and I could not help connecting the book with that presence. Perhaps it was a stupid thing to think. It was only an empty book.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Catherine Banner began writing The Eyes of a King when she was 14 years old. And now, at age 18, she’s busy at work on the next two books in the trilogy. She lives in England.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Eyes of a King (The Last Descendants Series #1) 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
AlwaysAloneDebbie More than 1 year ago
I found to to be the best book i've ever read. I do have to amit though its gets a little confusing, but nothing that a little back tracing can't fix. Once I started to read it I was unable to put it down. I strongly recomend it to anyone I meet. I cant wait to read more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some of the book was REALLY depressing. After Stirling dies it's really bad for a while. i liked when Leo read of dreamed about England. Those parts were pretty good. The writing though was really good. I'm not sure if i want to read the second book though.
darkanddead More than 1 year ago
This book was more emotional than I thought it would be. But it was purely amazing. It had me hooked immediately and I could not wait to finish. Leo is a character that you get to know well and feel great affection towards. I loved reading this book. It was interesting and always kept me guessing. I'll admit it was a little bit sad at parts but it is totally worth reading. 5/5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It all depends on what type of person you are, because some people don't like the sadness or depression that seeps through but it isn't really that bad with emotions. It doesn't make you cry, really, and when you think about's a realistic telling. I mean pretty much anyone would feel guilty after killing a person, or feeling lost when the one family member you had left that you were close to dies.

The book was like a puzzle piece while you read you can easily put somethings together and easily find out that you were right. The book can be hard to understand because sometimes it says "you" as if he was talking to you but really you find that he was talking to someone else.This books is about Leo who lives in a different world but is dreaming and writing about another world that is called England(our World)and some of it has to do with his world as well. He watches things go by in that life, the life in England and he also sees his life slipping away.

Leo's character i loved because he was cocky but with good reason but i was more interested in the life in England that he was seeing go by, that was what kept me reading. This book is a good read depending on who you are. Also by the book ended you almost know that there is going to be another one because it just didn't end on the right note and there seemed to be more. Anyways i think it supposed to be a trilogy but i'm not entirely sure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is by-far my favorite book series. It always keeps you on your toes and in a deep place. I couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Leanna Vargas More than 1 year ago
Has all the exciting things you would want to read about!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lindsey_Miller More than 1 year ago
*This review contains spoilers. First off, the given synopsis doesn't really do justice to what this book truly is, which is a very dark journey through life under an oppressive government during the midst of war, and the psychological trauma of losing a family member who is the representation of hope and light in a family. Banner does a wonderful job of revealing the content throughout the novel, so as not to give the whole thing away immediately. However, it continues to move toward a very dark direction, and although I found myself wanting to continue reading in order to finish the story, personally, it became less enjoyable the further along I got in the book. That's not to say, certainly, that I don't recommend this read, because I do, it's just that I would definitely consider this more on the literary side of the fantasy fiction spectrum. If you're looking for a fun, lighthearted fireside fantasy, this isn't the book for you. However, if you're looking for a well-written book with more of a literary bent that explores a world of magic and kingdom era war and weaponry in a more realistic way, then you will definitely enjoy this book. -Lindsey Miller,
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Fifteen-year-old Leo North lived in Malonia with his younger brother, Stirling, and his grandmother. When Leo was five years old the monarchy was overthrown by the tyrant Lucien, and his parents fled to save their lives.

One night on his way home, Leo finds a mysterious book. The pages of the book are blank. But t soon the pages begin to fill, telling the story of two people in England, which is thought to be a fairy tale world. The pages only appear a few at a time, but Leo feels as though he already knows the story.

Leo, however, has no idea how much the story will come to play in his own country of Malonia.

THE EYES OF A KING is a book filled with fantasy, mystery, heartache, and love. Catherine Banner realistically depicts the thoughts and emotions of her teenage character, being as she is one herself. Leos' story seems to consist of one main theme -- loss. He is overcome with grief in much of the second half of the book, and it seemed as if empathy will continue to elude him.

Banner cleverly intertwines the stories of Malonia and England, and readers will revel in delight as the two stories come together. THE EYES OF A KING looks to be the beginning of an enchanting trilogy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was depressing and had a terrible story line! There were no redeeming factors in this book. The main character is lost in grief for most of the book, his brother dies, and his grandmother goes insane.