Rating – 4.75 out of 5
One Dark Throne, the second installment in Kendare Blake’s brutal fantasy series, is the beginning of the end. The triplet queens are back and this time they are ready to fulfill their destiny. With one of them to be crowned by the end of the year, who will win and who will be dead?
“The belladonna berries roll in Katharine’s stomach, but she does not wince. It has been more than a month since she had to claw her way up and out of the hearth of the island, and now Katharine can withstand anything…
She taps the cage on the corner of her desk to rouse the small gray mouse inside. It is blind in one eye, and mostly bald from Katharine’s rubbed poisons. She offers it a cracker through the bars of its cage, and it creeps forward, sniffing, afraid to eat it.
‘Once I was a mouse,’ she says, and strips off her glove. She reaches into the cage to stroke the rodent’s tiny bald haunches.
‘But I’m not anymore.'”
– One Dark Throne, Pg. 9
Why I liked One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
I wrote about Three Dark Crowns by Blake a few weeks ago and I must say that One Dark Throne was even better! If anything it was even more brutal than the first installment. I enjoyed it thoroughly. The characters face real danger from each other but also the powers that be. It usually appears that the throne will be won not only through sheer violence but also through manipulating the hearts and minds of the people of the island. In much the way that power is often also interpersonal, not only who has the sheer physical power. In many ways, the people supporting the Queens are the more interesting characters. Their bonds are strong, and even in uncertain times, they come through in ways that many people would not for their friends in real life.
Thinking about the brutality, I was telling a friend of mine about this series and how I could not understand who I, a mostly passive person, was so drawn to the violence of this world. She replied that this was the appropriate place for such things – in a book where I and other real people were not being hurt. In a world where we often encounter violence via mass shootings and terrorism, it is good to understand violence in a safe space. Between the pages of a book, we can encounter violence and put it in its place without hurting others. We are able to rationalize the world we live in today through the lens of the violent stories we read. I put my support behind that book (and series!) for this reason.
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