Ray Gun Reviews
SF/F reviews — and ray guns!

King’s Wrath by Fiona McIntosh

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King’s Wrath by Fiona McIntosh
Eos, 2010, 528pp.

The Valisar family were the rulers of the land of Penraven, part of the Denova Set. For eight generations, the Valisars ruled, thanks to a blessing from the goddess Cyrena that gave the Valisars near invulnerability if they could find and connect with their ‘aegis’. However, ten years ago, the eighth Valisar, King Brennus, had not connected with his aegis and so the barbarian warlord Loethar was able to conquer Penraven and the other countries of the Set, apparently slaughtering almost the entire royal family in the process.

However, the princes Leo and Piven both escaped death, as well as the princess Genevieve. In the first two books of the Valisar trilogy, Fiona McIntosh created a cast of dozens of characters, all of whom were working in one way or another either to maintain Loethar’s reign or overthrow it. We were introduced to Stracker, Loethar’s evil half-brother who lives with a perpetual blood-lust; Kilt Farris and his band of forest-dwelling robbers; Elka the giantess; Gavriel de Vis, son of Brennus’s regent; and many others. Now, in the third volume, all the characters are moving toward a climactic confrontation that will determine the future of Loethar’s empire.

It’s hard to write a review for the third book of a trilogy without revealing too much to those who haven’t read the first two books, so I will speak in generalities.

To begin with, King’s Wrath sets everything you thought you knew about who were the good guys and the bad guys. After two books of following the various Valisars in their attempts to regain the throne, the reader is tipped off-balance as the closeness of extreme power changes the characters.

These changes of personality don’t always work, though. I found myself extremely off-kilter in trying to figure out what was going on and reconcile actions in this book with the previous two installments. Some of those actions took on a new light with new revelations, but many of them were just plain… wrong, as if these were two different characters. Perhaps the most extreme is the change in Piven’s character which is not adequately explained.

But McIntosh’s writing style is so gripping, that she is still able to carry the story forward, even with such a glaring problem. However, I found the book thematically a bit… silly. Without revealing too much, there are a number of relationships where the characters go from complete strangers to madly in love in a matter of minutes or hours. McIntosh’s writing style is so effective that if you don’t step back to think about it, she pulls it off as believable. But if you stop turning the pages so quickly (hard to do!), you realize that she is asking for quite a leap in believability.

Still, with all its problems, King’s Wrath is overall a good finish to an exciting series. Although it could have been better, I still found myself reading this book quickly and devouring it rapidly.

One Response to “King’s Wrath by Fiona McIntosh”

  1. […] even if at points it might not be the one we wished for. Rating: 4 out of 5 Other Reviews: Ray Gun Reviews This book on: LibraryThing | Goodreads | Bookdepository UK | Bookdepository US | Amazon UK | […]

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