Saturday, 24 September 2011

King's Wrath (Valisar Trilogy Book Three)

Title: King's Wrath
Author: Fiona McIntosh
Score: 8/10
Chart Entry Position: 19/45


In my experience of reading McIntosh's previous books, the endings have been fairly weak and anticlimactic. If it wasn't for the fact that the first two and a half books of her trilogies are generally extremely good then she wouldn't be one of my favourite authors. This series however, and particularly this book, was the exception. The majority of the series was, while still well-written, loose and unfocused. But the ending was possibly the most exciting one that McIntosh has written.

Unfortunately, I can't say too much about the ending without major spoilers, but where previous series have had the final confrontations all but skipped, there is actually some fighting at the end of this one. Which makes it automatically better in the first place. But I will talk about the rest of the novel, and by extension the whole series. I said above that it was unfocused. And the biggest reason for that is the lack of a main protagonist, and the lack of a main antagonist. The characters are no longer clearly defined as they were in the first book, particularly Piven, the mentally handicapped prince. And while it does make it all a bit more realistic, it makes it diffiult to actually want any one person to win the conflict.

The best character in the novel is undoubtedly Loethar. Considered the antagonist before the general confusion, he's an interesting, intelligent character. He isn't the only one to go through changes of character, but he's the one that it seems most natural for. He's written well, and almost seems to be the main character in this final book. On the other side of the coin we have Piven. He felt like the main character in the previous book, but in this is relegated to just a handful of viewpoint scenes. Even the (effectively) new character Evie gets more scenes than him.

And mentioning Evie brings us onto the idea of different worlds. If you didn't know, all of McIntosh's fantasy books are set on the same continent, but in different countries - so it makes sense that if something happens in one, it can just as easily happen in another. Throughout her books there is a common theme of different worlds. And the idea of sending someone to a different world until they are needed/considerably older is one that she used here, but also in the Trinity Trilogy. As is the idea of segregating those with magical powers, although for different reasons. Similarly, there are other ideas that I saw repeated in this story arc that were used in her previous novels, so I felt that some originality was lost there. However, on saying that, there were plenty of new ideas in this series, including the idea of an Aegis, and the method of unlocking their power. I also liked the slightly less central idea of the tatua, which identified which tribe the Steppes people were from. Overall, it WAS a new story, although there were some familiar patterns behind it.

I did enjoy this book. I enjoyed this whole series. But it's not the best of what she's written (I can't decide if the Trinity or Quickening Trilogy is best). Nor is it the worst, and the ending is considerably more satisfying that some others have been - although she could have still made it a bit more "epic". If you've read the Percheron Trilogy, then I'd say that there's a high chance of you liking this. If you've never read McIntosh before, this is still good, but I would recommend the Trinity series as the best to start with (it's the one that I started with, and I've read all of her fantasy books now).

More Information

Title: King's Wrath

Author: Fiona McIntosh

Series:: Valisar Trilogy
Preceded By: Tyrant's Blood

Main Protagonist(s): Not entirely clear, but of mixed gender
Main Antagonist(s): All male, it would seem.
Main Relationships: Heterosexual
Genre: Fantasy
Brief Synopsis:

The thrilling conclusion to the breathtaking saga of power, blood, birthright, and enchantment. 

The barbarian King Loethar may have gained his throne through brutality and bloodshed, but he has ruled Penraven with unexpected wisdom. Now his innumerable past sins threaten his reign—as Valisars who escaped slaughter prepare to rise up. Loyalties shift and new alliances are formed as the truth of history begins to emerge.

King-in-exile Leonel hungers for revenge against the man he considers the usurper of his throne. Yet Leo is unaware of another who wields the enchantment he covets—the once-charming "halfwit" brother Piven, now a powerful youth whose exceptional cunning is matched only by his ruthless desire for the throne.

But the efforts of all three to hold or gain control of Penraven may well be in vain, for the true inheritor of the Valisar Legacy is being called home . . . to claim her crown. 

ISBN: 978-0-00-727606-6
Website: King's Wrath -
Amazon Link: UK | US
Pages: 510
First Published: 2010 (Eos)
Publisher: Harper Voyager (2011)

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