Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Born Queen Reviewed

I finished this book a while ago but have been letting it digest before writing the review. Ever since I read The Briar King I've been a huge fan of The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series and have eagerly awaited and thoroughly loved the first three books. I was confident that when the fourth book came along I would be able to proclaim this series the best epic fantasy series of all time. Unfortunately, I can't do that. It is a good book but does not continue the greatness that was leading up to it.

The Born Queen suffers from two major problems. First, while it is a well known writing axiom that characters are supposed to change by the end of a story no one ever talks about what happens when the characters change into something you don't like. Two of the major characters, who happened to be two of my favorites, complete significant transformations by about halfway in. Yes it was interesting to see the fruition of their long arcs but they simply turned into people I didn't care for and had a hard time rooting for.

Second, the book finally reveals what the whole story is about. There are three sources of power in the world that rise and fall with the centuries and it's that time again. One is religious and spiritual in nature, one is magical and represents human advancement (not always a good thing), and another the world of nature and is embodied by the Briar King. This is all very cool. But I lost track of which was which and why they were important. I think this comes from the authors attempts to create a rich and varied cultural background where everything has two or three descriptions depending on which group of people are talking about it. This has worked marvelously before but becomes just too jumbled by the fourth book.

So The Born Queen did not live up to my incredibly high expectations. Overall the series is very good and has some of the best writing I've ever seen. The world created here is very rich and full. And as this book moves through its paces there are a few spooky and creepy scenes that alone make it worth reading but in the end this series will have to settle for second place.


Keanan Brand said...

I have the other books in the series, but haven't read this one yet. Disappointing to learn it might not live up to the others.

Jeff Draper said...

It is a very good book but it's just not the blow-me-away great that I was hoping for. However, it is very cool to see the plot strands that have been flying around like the end of a worn out antenna flag come together. Keyes is still a master at the grand sweep of Story. Aspar's arc comes to a very satisfying conclusion.