Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

three-dark-crowns For a Matriarchal society, Fennbirn is kinda a violent place.  For example, how they pick the Queen that will rule them is a bloodbath.  Three Queens, triplets, who all a special power shall we say,  Katharine is a poisoner, Mirabella an elemental and Arsinoe is a naturalist.  When they turn 16 one of them will ascend to the thrown by using their powers to kill the other two.  They are raised together until the age of six and then separated to be fostered by families who share their powers. The families teach them all it takes to master their powers so when the yearly festival of Beltane comes in the year of their 16th Birthday, they will be ready to impress their people, their suitors and imitate their sisters.  It’s the first time they are to see each other in years and probably the last time they will see each other until one comes to kill the other.  It’s blood thirsty but we are getting ahead of ourselves.  Three Dark Crowns is only the first book in the series so it spends a lot of time introducing us to our Queens and the world they live in.  Katharine (so nice to have it spelled correctly) is a poisoner that has trouble building her immunity to the many poisons her family feeds her.  Arsinoe is a naturalist who can’t even make a flower bloom.  Only Mirabella powers is strong.  She can make fire, bring down a storm with wind and lightning and control water.  The Temple and it’s Priestess have put all their power behind Mirabella to gain control over the island from the Arron family who run the Black council.  The Council rules while the Queens come of age.  I said that it’s a Matriarchal society as the head of the household are women.  Men come second. Whatever sister wins, they will marry one of the suitors from the Mainland but will only ever be the King-consort.  A ceremony title and nothing else.  His only job is, when the time is right, knock up the Queen so the next set of Triplets can be born.  I guess not a bad gig if you can get it.  The part is, this book is filled with female characters.  It passes the Bechdel test and themselves.  Not to say there isn’t male characters but they take up the roles usually for the girls.  They are the love interest and the supporting friend or teacher.  Nice little swap there.  Anyway, Mirabella is the strongest of the three and assumed to easily win the crown but of the three of them she is also the kind-hearted.  She remembers her sisters and how that once upon a time they loved each other.  She doesn’t think she can kill them.  Katharine on the other hand, so wants to prove that he is as strong as the poisoner queens that have come before her.  The last few Queens have been poisoners and the Arrons are hell bent on keeping their power.  Arsinoe is a little bit of a wild child.  She knows that she is weak and hears what people say about her. Her best friend is also the most powerful naturalist in hundreds of years.  Only making Arsinoe look even weaker.  After their 16th birthday, the sisters do everything they can to prepare for Beltane and find ways to make themselves stronger to give them a chance to survive but threats to their lives might come from outside of their sisters.   The Spiritual leaders of Fennbirn have lost influence of the years thanks to the Arrons stronghold on the Black Council. When they heard that Mirabella was as strong as they were the Head Priestess took over her training and are using her to regain power. When it becomes clear that Mirabella is not going to be able to kill her sisters to gain power, they hatch a their own scheme to win their throne.  For fans of Game of Thrones or Falling Kingdoms this is one’s for you.  While there are not as many deaths, yet, there are political intrigued, many characters and storylines to follow.  There’s a twist ending but it’s pretty easy to see it coming.  I’ll give you a clue, just look at their names.  Which ones don’t really match up with their powers?  All and all it was pretty good and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

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