Published on September 19th 2017
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Orphans & Foster Homes, Royalty, Young Adult
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The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?
With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.
In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.
I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
One Dark Throne continues the story from Three Dark Crowns, where three magically-powered triplet queens must murder each other until one is crowned Queen of Fennbirn Island.
To be honest, this book was a little lacking for me. The final rating for me is 3.5, rounded up to 4 in some cases, mostly because the second half of the book was a lot better than the first.
My issues are several.
Each queen has her owns set of adopted family, friends, and suitors, so it’s a really large cast and quite frankly most characters kind of blurred together. I have no idea what anyone looks like or what age anyone is, so I’m always surprised when someone is referred to being elderly.
The writing, at least in the first half, was breathtakingly sparse. With a large amount of character ‘onscreen’, many of them were left standing around doing nothing when big events happened that they should be reacting to. This is an issue with present tense third person narration. You can’t possibly follow everyone ‘onscreen’ when you only read one line at a time.
And the book’s lore seems wildly inconsistent. The first time low magic was used to summon a bear, it was an old sick one whom Arsinoe had no connection to. The low magic used on Mirabella and Joseph wore off. The low magic binding Braddock the bear to Arsinoe seems really solid, to the point where he is easily and often mistaken as her familiar, although he’s not. I kept expecting the magic to wear off, like it has every other time we’ve seen it.
The second half did get a lot better, when the queens were brought together with the expectation of murder. I keep reminding myself that as implausible as the concept seems, this is the way this world is, so I just have to accept all the weird rules that go along with these trials the queens go through. And I still don’t get the ‘point’ of the queens. It’s not like they actually rule a country or run a government. They’re all puppets for their adopted families. What benefit do they get from sitting on a throne? Why does this world just accept that one of these three black-haired triplets must be their monarch? Why has no one taught the queens how to rule a country? Why do they leave the island as soon as the triplets are born? It leaves the island being run by whoever the departing queen’s family is, until it’s time for the murdering to begin. So they get what, maybe five years of a throned queen and then another 16 of no ruler? I try, I really do try to make sense of this book. I’m quite good at suspending my disbelief. But even though I tell myself that that’s the way they do it in this world and even monkeys have shown that societies succumb to unquestioning ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’ mentalities.
My suspicion is that Katharine is really war-gifted. There is more than just the three types of magic, and we’ve seen how skilled she is at the art of war: riding, fighting, and now that she’s returned from the dead, tactics, at least. She’s not a poisoner, and the reason the poison doesn’t kill her is because she’s already dead. I can’t quite figure out why it makes her so ill, though. Part of this theory is based on the revelation that Jules is both naturalist and war mage, known as legion cursed. Why make Jules so special and so strong if the war magic isn’t part of one of the queens?
This book actually pretty neatly ties up a lot of the loose plot points to the point where I was surprised to see that there is another book after this. I will be reading it, although if I don’t find it satisfying I am happy to pretend there were only two books in this series (and the novella). So if you’re on the fence about this series so far, you can read it as only a duology and be, in my opinion, satisfied.