***The Review has spoilers from One Dark Throne and the first book Three Dark Crowns. Read both books first and then come back. Thank you***
The Ascension year has started and Katharine, Arsinoe and Mirabella are not messing around. From the very beginning we are deep into plans, schemes and our right combat from the sisters. They are all are pissed and have good reason too. They have all been betrayed in one way or another and that’s after they were raised to kill or be killed. I do wonder, in all of their lessons on how to control their powers and how to kill their sisters, how many lessons did they get about actually governing should they win the crown? I sort of get the feeling that’s sort of an afterthought but I digress. Arsinoe has discovered that she isn’t actually a Naturalist but a poisoner, which should have been obvious considering her name. Right? It looks and and sounds like arsenic. Katharine has survived the Breccia Domain and wants revenge on everyone, especially Pieytr and Mirabella is hurt that Arsinoe sent her bear to kill her at Beltane after she saved her life. This was a very intense read from the beginning which was good. The first book was kinda slow in places as it tried to flesh out it’s world. Now with all of that out the way, it really has found it’s footing. The Sisters are interesting and complex characters. I found myself wanted all of them to win, well maybe not Katharine, she really has flipped her lid. Which is shame since she spells her name right. The fourth girl in the story, Jules, Arsinoe’s best friend and protector is the strongest Naturalist of her generation and maybe she is that because there wasn’t a Naturalist Queen born since both Arsinoe and Katharine are poisoners. She is also legion cursed, which seems to mean she was born with two gifts and that often makes the person go mad and is often killed at birth. Her second gift is War, which has been mostly dorment for many years that people don’t really know what she is capable of. I want to like Jules but I just can’t seem to care that much about her. She seems to be the classic YA character that doesn’t have much of a personality outside of her love interest or in this case, her best friend, Arsinoe. And when she is fretting over Arsinoe she’s moping about Joseph. She still is trying to forgive him for sleeping with Mirabella and honestly, I kinda like Joseph and Mirabella together better. Their relationship may have been only physical and facilitated by Arsinoe’s low magic but to me they had more chemistry and passion in their few scenes together then Joseph and Jules did in their many. I did get their feel that they loved each other but they loved who they were before Joseph was banished and now feel like they have to hold on to that then discover on who they are now. Maybe now that Jules will be on her own without Arsinoe or Joseph we will get to know more about her. I hope so since she obviously has a big part to play in how this story turns out. I like that fact that Kendare Blake is going to drag out their Ascension year beyond this book and that we have a crowned Queen but also the beginning a possible rebellion. What happens when more then one Queen survives? And what is really down in the Breccia Domain? Is Jules really going to be the end of Fennbirn? So many questions that can’t wait to find out the answers to.
It’s that time of the year when publishers release titles in bunches so they are out before the Holidays. It also means my to-read list just gets longer and longer. Here are a few books I just can’t wait to read.
One Dark Throneby Kendare Blake – the sequel to Three Dark Crowns. Three sisters with three different powers but only one will survive to be crowned Queen.
Before the Devil Breaks Youby Libba Bray – Book three of the excellent The Diviner’s series. To quote Evie, it really is the Bees knees.
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.
For my last Series You Should Check Out post of the year I thought I would do something different. In the spirit of Award Shows In Memoriam segments. I thought I would take the time to highlight and say goodbye to the series that I loved that came to their conclusion this year. It was only 4 and I know that I have highlighted them once (or many times) before but all good things need a proper send off. So without much further ado. Here are the Series that I said Goodbye to in 2015.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer What can I say about this series that I haven’t already said? I am truly going to miss this it. The mix of fairy tales and sci fi was perfect. It never felt forced. How Miss Meyer was able to incorporate this familiar stories into her own new world and combine them with such ease was truly impressive. It all came off naturally and fun. It was full of romance, action, wonderful heroines and even a little social commentary on how we treat those who are different and the difference between tyranny and freedom and the lengths one goes to lead. Next year Meyer will release a collection of short stories that revolve around reverse perspectives of important scenes and even a wedding for one of our couples but it had the perfect ending for a fairy tale. They all lived happily ever after.
Penryn and the End of the Days by Susan Ee This series was very different in it’s look at Angels. As they are not all that angelic like at all or at least how we have come to think of Angels to be like. It touched on two major trends in YA of late with both it’s dystopian and fantasy elements and they blended nicely. It also had a strong lady protagonist in Penryn. She was brave, smart and fierce. She had flaws though. She had to get over her own fears and even prejudice to truly win the fight. It was an uneven trilogy as the second book wasn’t as strong as the first but it was still a great read. I’m curious to see what Susan Ee does next now that Penryn has come to a very satisfying ending.
The Goddess War by Kendare Blake Greek Gods and Goddesses living in the modern world is not a new idea. We all know of Rick Riordan’s work but this was a little different. Instead of Gods and Goddesses that live on top of the Empire State Building overseeing what is going on in the world. These Gods and Goddesses actually live in it though barely does anyone know who they really are. It was a twist on the Greek Champions. Instead of them being the children of the Gods, they are the original Champions, reborn. Once again, we are introduced to Odysseues, Hector, Achilles, Cassandra and more. Instead of reliving the Trojan War they make their own paths to save the Gods and Goddess of Olympus. It was fun, a little romantic, action packed and a new take on everything we have grown to love about Greek Mythology.
Finishing School by Gail Carriger In this steampunk version of England there is a girls finishing school that not only teaches girls to be the finest women in all of England but also the deadliest. Sophronia is the best student at Madame Geraldine’s. Through four books she has drove every teacher banners with her constant curiosity and always in the thick of things. She knows every square inch of the ship that is her school and every secret there is to know in England. From the inter-workings of vampire hives and werewolves clans to evil secret society of the Picklemen. She has thwarted evil plans and made friends with those all over the class spectrum. From the charming Soap who is black and one of the sooties who works on the ship to the devilishly handsome Felix who is a Duke’s son. She may be a women in Victorian England but she is anything but helpless. More then once she uses her own skills and intelligence to save the realm from treasonous acts. It’s funny so funny and filled with action and excitement that I’m sorry it’s ending but good news is that Gail Carriger has other series set in this world.
So those are series that ended that year that I love. What series did you love that ended this year?
Ungodly is the final book in the Goddess War Trilogy. The Greek Gods may not be worshiped like they did in Ancient Greece but being Immortal, they are still around and living mostly normal lives. That is until they mysteriously start getting sick. Gods are not supposed to get sick but Athena is coughing up feathers, Hermes is wasting away, Aphrodite has gone mad. Artemis is perpetually being hunted, just name a few. Athena and Hermes set out to try to figure out what is going on. This leads them to find the mortal heroes from the Trojan wars, Achilles, Odysseus, Hector, Cassandra and Andromache. The thing is that they are now teenage kids who have no idea who they really are/were or are just waking up to it. Only thing they know is that they are in a world of trouble.
I like this series because it was fun to read but also an interesting take on Greek Myths. These Gods and Goddess are not Greek Gods of Rick Riordan. They are not all gathered in one place on Mount Olympus at the Empire State Building keeping tabs on the world below. They are scattered about the world with litter to no contact with each other. They have gone on living their own lives and well still holding the same grudges for thousands of years. Also the threat of dying has really humanize them in ways they never could be before. They learn what it feels to live with the uncertainty that they will live to see tomorrow. As for their human heroes, the Gods, particularly Athena and Hermes, find they are more sympathetic to them. They are not just weapons to be used when needed but actually people with actual lives.
Cassie is really Cassandra who was a oracle during the Trojan War that Apollo cursed that no one will believe her. Now in modern day she’s just Cassie who is in love with Aiden, oblivious to what’s going on until she meets Athena and Hermes. She finds out that not only she a character from the Ilaid but so is her brother Henry (Hector) and her best friend Andie (Andromache). Oh and Aiden is actually Apollo, who feels really bad about that whole curse thing. Considering the past run in the Gods didn’t go so well, you can probably bet that they aren’t going to get along all that well in the present either. I definitely love how all of them at one point or another stand up the the various Gods. They don’t just fall in line and do whatever they are told do. It takes some major gumption to stand up to Athena. They each are in various states of conscience of who they were and they each have to figure out who they are now. Do they just except that it is their fate to relieve the same drama all over again or do they choose their own path? Isn’t that what we all struggle with?
There is a lot of action throughout the series. Gods taking on each other. Of course, Hera is a villain, when isn’t she? You almost have to feel sorry for Hera. She is constantly playing the villain. To be fair, she did do some pretty terrible things but to be also fair she also endures some pretty terrible things too. Anyway, total side note. There are a lot of twists and turns and not afraid of killing off characters for the sake of the story. It’s fun read for all those who love Greek Mythology, kick ass heroes and heroines and action.