Wednesday, August 24, 2016
The Queen's Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler
This book is one of those rare finds that just has this effortless feel of creativity in all the right places. The Queen's Poisoner is a great take on fantasy, history, and magic that reads so well you you read a hundred pages and it would feel like nothing.
The story takes place in both a magical world that is also a "what if" history universe as well. Basically the political set up is that Richard the III had won the War of the Roses. Instead of England we're in the land of Ceredigion and, instead of Richard, the King's name is Severn. After winning the war, Severn decreed that all of the Lords who didn't take his side are to send hostages to his castle. That is how young Owen Kiskaddon, youngest son of the Duke of Westmarch, ends up at the King's castle where he becomes an a vital pawn in a game of politics between the King, his dead brother's wife the Queen, and Ankarette Tryneowy; the Queen's poisoner.
This book is just a delight. The details of Owen's life turned upside down in a world he barely understands are fast-paced and full of adventure as well as tension. The looming threat of the King's wrath and the endangerment of Owen's family is very real as the story goes on and the weight of many lives falls on the shoulders of such a young boy. Each character is put to great use. Everybody from the King to the kitchen maid are interesting and feel needed.
But probably the best and my favorite detail of this book is the element of The Fountain. This is the source of both magic and religion in this story, blessing a select few with unique powers and abilities. Those who are Fountain Blessed can control others, as is the case with King Severn, but also have insite into a persons mind or give them prophetic dreams. The scenes with The Fountain are described beautifully, kind of like a mix between Water Bending and the Force. It's just a fantastic concept.
The story is clever and gripping, the characters are rich and interesting, the plot is full of intrigue and it reads as smoothly as the waters of the Fountain. For these reasons, I have no problem adding this book to the Shelf of Recommendation! Find it, read it, and experience it for yourself!
Next time: How does an acclaimed crime novel writer take on a young adult fantasy?