Saturday, May 12, 2018

Review: The Queen's Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

The Queen's Poisoner (Kingfountain, Book #1)
by Jeff Wheeler
Release Date: April 1st 2016
2016 47North
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1503953314
Genere: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.

Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. But when new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor by proving his worth—through extraordinary means. And only one person can aid his desperate cause: a mysterious woman, dwelling in secrecy, who truly wields power over life, death, and destiny.

My Thoughts
The Queen's Poisoner is the first book int he Kingfountain Trilogy and really lays down the foundation of the story from the world-building, to the political intrigues, to the characters and their many good qualities and flaws.  It was somewhat different from preview books by this author but that's one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much as it was different.  And while it did draw a lot on the War of the Roses and King Richard 11, freely admitted by the author himself, it was definitely not a retelling of that story, but its own unique story.

The main character eight-year-old Owen, thrust into the political intrigues because of his family, who must survive court the court and all its challenges when he is taken from his family as a hostage by the king.  Forced to learn very quickly whom to trust and whom not to, he learns to surround himself with people who are stealthy and can help him win the game.  He learns to make alliances, but also learns when to keep things to himself and when to give up important information in order to help his cause.  It's an interesting thing to read something from the perspective of an eight-year-old as you are left trying to figure out the political machinations from the bits and pieces that an eight-year-old would have understood rather than get the whole picture right away.  And everything is definitely not as it seems, with fine lines drawn between good and bad, and every character seeming to cross that line from time to time in order to do what they must to keep a kingdom running.  Basically, this story is about the characters, not about the magic, and I am curious as to how it will all play out in future books.  

The magic of the Fountain is hinted at, but in no way dominates this book; as I mentioned before, this book is about the development of the characters and is more plot-driven than magic-driven.  I think what it shows the reader is that kings and nobles must lead their countries without the use of magical power; there are so many other powers out there that are just as strong and just as useful and how you use them is what makes you powerful.  It was definitely an interesting thought.  For someone who loves magic in books, I was quite happy for magic to take a back seat as it worked in this book quite well.  Mancini, the Espion, has also developed into a favourite character of mine; he is so different from what I would expect from a spy and I really enjoyed his personality.  However, I imagine he would be quite deadly although I have yet to really see that aspect of his personality at this point and look forward to seeing how his character develops.

The Queen's Poisoner is well-written and enjoyable, and I have to say it, fairly clean in that the graphic violence of other fantasy novels is not present in this one.  Sometimes it's just nice to read a good story without all the torture and graphic war scenes in every chapter, you know?  However, the story is still good and interesting, and I am invested in the characters.  Looking forward to reading the next book in this trilogy, The Thief's Daughter.


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