***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.