Sunday, February 12, 2017

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

I've been looking forward to getting to this one. I read the premise on Amazon and got really excited. Something about the idea of three powerful queens, who also happen to be sisters, competing for total dominion really got me interested. Did it meet my expectations or was I a bit overhyped? Well, let's dive right in and see what we got.

This story is of the island of Fennbrin, a powerful nation ruled by inhabitants with amazing gifts. Every generation, triplet queens are born each with one with a different gift. When the triplets come of age, they take part in the Ascension Year where the sisters must use their gifts to kill each other until one remains. But each queen is not alone. Armed with powerful and deadly allies, the queens must prepare themselves for the day they must kill their own sisters or else be killed in the process.

What really drew me into the idea of this book was not only the prospect of competing queens, but also the fact that they all have some kind of special power. Katharine is a poisoner, who has total immunity to all poisons. Arsinoe is a naturalist, who can control plants and animals. Mirabella is an elemental and has the ability to control the fire and create violent storms. Sounds pretty interesting, right? Well, you quickly learn that not all the queens are as talented as they're made out to be. This adds another layer of drama to the story and you see the individual struggles that each queen has to endure. They do a good job at building the queens as characters, each one being someone you would want to have the crown and not want to see win.

Another aspect of the story that I really liked was the politics. Normally these things kind of bore me, but it really adds to the world building in that you see just what kind of savage place would raise three sisters to hate and kill each other. Each queen is raised by powerful guardians who will gain, or lose, their status depending on the outcome of this fight. Devious families, bloodthirsty priestesses, and violent acts of low magic surround the sisters, each trying to make their queen more powerful than the rest. It's not just about the three anymore, the whole island is involved in a constant struggle for dominion. It added it's own level of intrigue, seeing just how far some of these forces will go to insure that their queen is the one who rules. It was vastly interesting and I really enjoyed it.

Now the stuff I didn't like so much. Getting down to it, my biggest complaints can be summed up in two words: Jules and Joseph. I'm sorry, but both these characters really, really annoyed me. Jules is queen Arsinoe's bodyguard, roughly the same age, and a really strong naturalist with a mountain lion as a familiar. She should be interesting but the whole time all I could think was "Why didn't they just make her Arsinoe?" Why did you make the cool character the bodyguard and not the queen? And, for that matter, she is pointless! She affects nothing. Everything she does and feels, Arsinoe does and feels too. There's no reason for her to be here! And, yeah, I get that there is a twist in the end of the book about Arsinoe and why she couldn't take this spot in particular, but it feels like a waste. When Jules is doing absolutely nothing to help Arsinoe, the plot gets distracted by her complicated love life that I quite honestly don't give a flying fig about. We spend way too much time with this girl and if you take Jules completely out of the story and it doesn't miss her. I didn't care for her much.

Much of the problem with Jules, however, is how much dang time we spend with her lousy excuse for a boyfriend, Joseph. I really, really came to hate this character and, again, we spend an unbelievable amount of time on him. Basically he and Jules have had this long history of being childhood sweethearts and wait for each other while he's away from the island. He finally comes back, they rekindle their relationship and proclaim their love for each other...only to have him sleep with a total stranger. More than once. I'm not kidding. The first time you could make the case that he was delirious, which throws consent into the air and makes it really squicky. Then he regains his senses, realizes that he's cheated on the only woman he's ever loved...and goes and cheats on her again fully aware of what he's doing this time. Okay, now you're a pig.  And after this, he feels bad and tries to make it up to Jules except he can't because he's fallen so helplessly in love with this other girl whom he knows nothing about! I want to read about three queens and the world that makes them want to kill each other...and you're making me read about a pig man cheating on his useless girlfriend, all of which has nothing to do with what I picked this book up to read about.  It really got on my nerves.

Lastly, I went into this book and, big mistake, didn't realize that it was a first installment. Yes, this is only the first book in a series. I had hoped for a stand alone for a change, but I was out of luck. Everything I was really hoping I'd get out of this book I now have to wait for the next book. That being said, it does build things up and get me hyped for the next installment. I wanna see where it goes, I just really wish this book had started where it ended. Well, that's just another book I'll have to my add on my ever daunting "To Read" list.

Final Verdict
This one was pretty hot and cold for me. I went in expecting Battle Royal and ended up getting As The World Turns. A bit of a let down? Just a bit. But there was still plenty of good things that I really enjoyed and look forward to seeing in the future...and some things I dread having to see again. Still, I am glad I read the book, though I wish I hadn't paid full price for the thing. If this sounds like a story you might like, learn from my mistake and wait for it on paperback.

Did you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Next Time: It's time to review my first novella on this site...and it'll either ignite the flames of love or the fires of my unyielding rage....

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