As someone who is all about reading the most popular thing on Tumblr at any given time, I was all over The Foxhole Court series by Nora Sakavic the minute it was brought to my attention. Especially when it was brought to my attention that the series main character, Neil Josten, was on the asexual spectrum. Finally, I cried out, a hero I can see myself in … and on that front, the series did not disappoint. But I’ll come back to this.
Let’s start off with the background. The King’s Men is the final book of the series, the crescendo of the story of Neil Josten or rather Nathaniel Wesinski, ending in the fight for Neil to live his life as Neil and finally put Nathaniel to bed with the end of the book leading up to the series’ big moment; the final match against the Ravens at Evermore. The plot of the novels you ask? Neil is on the run from his gangster father and by chance ends up being recruited for a college Exy (a cross between hockey and lacrosse) and thrust into the spotlight, as well as being reunited with faces he never wanted to see again.
Once he’s reunited with the Moriyama crime syndicate, it becomes a fight for Neil and his teammate Kevin Day to stay out of their clutches with Kevin’s brother figure Riko Moriyama fighting to get them back to his side. Ultimately it has a lot more drama than any sports team should have, but it’s the drama that makes you root for this team. The drama in their lives and their tragic backstories, from Neil’s runaway to Nicky’s homophobic parents to Kevin’s abuse at the hands of Riko, makes you want them to succeed all the more.
Neil is an honestly more likeable protagonist by the third book, finally gaining the emotional investment needed for the audience to commit their hearts to him. Whilst Neil has been good from the beginning, the natural character development through the book from someone who doesn’t care and lives to survive to a man who is full of a lot of love for life is something that endears the reader to him. The plot was also very well paced, possibly one of the perks of independent publishing, as Sakavic manages to make the story engaging as well as allowing events to happen without boring the reader by over developing them. The pacing also allows for side characters to have their arcs developed as well, with Renee and Allison being a main example through the pair becoming closer, as well as Renee’s relationship with Jean.
Ultimately it is the characters who are the driving force of The King’s Men, with the book focusing more on how characters are affected, with the beady eye of Neil keeping tabs and filling the audience in on all. Though one character escapes Neil’s hawk-like gaze: Andrew Minyard. Neil’s complete failure to understand Andrew’s motivations is something that makes the build up to their relationship so sweet because through Neil’s eyes it almost hits him out of the blue.
However, the reader doesn’t fail to notice the subtle comments that the other characters make about the pair, with Andreil being left to naturally develop and turn from an antagonistic relationship to one of complete trust and support. The fact that the pair is so committed to helping each other through their respective traumas is a refreshing read, as it doesn’t change the characters but shows the pair of them coping in their own ways.
The Foxhole Court isn’t a book which is jam-packed full of literary technique, nor do I think it needs to be. Often books like that forget their purpose; the characters and the story they are supposed to tell. The King’s Men gives you closure on the people you have grown to love over the past three books and allows their stories to be told, something which in my opinion is the very purpose and reason as to why we write fiction.