Note: This book was provided to me by the publisher free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A Book Published in 2016
Fantasy goes through phases. When the Lord of the Rings trilogy was released, everything went sort of Tokien-esque. Everything was beautiful elves imparting wisdom to fragile humans while in picturesque locations. Thanks to HBO, fantasy has undergone a sort of dark superhero movie makeover. Gritty realism and political intrigue are now the order of the day. When I see a book advertised by as ‘epic fantasy in the vein of Game of Thrones’, I must admit to a little shudder. It’s usually a signal that the story is dark and brooding with lots of people being murdered. This made me pick up The Poisoned Quarrel with a bit of a heavy heart.
Beset on all sides, one husband and wife are all that stand between a kingdom and its destruction.
Fallon and Bridgit are reunited at last, but time is still against them. Having evaded treachery, escaped slavery, and thwarted a hostile invasion, they now find themselves in the eye of a ferocious military and political storm.
In the east, Swane is gathering an army of desperate men to retake the throne. In the west, the Kottermani princess is planning to bring the full force of the Empire down on Gaelland in an effort to free her husband, Prince Kemal. And under their very noses, the Duchess Dina’s agents are hard at work turning the people against Fallon and his friends. But worse than this, Bridgit begins to fear her husband may not be the best man to lead the country after all.
Together against the odds, Fallon and Bridgit must dare to hope they can make the late Prince Cavan’s vision for a fair and free Gaelland come true. But will the price be too high to pay?
I’m a sucker for a flawed hero and this one has them in spades. The good guys do some pretty not so good things and while some of the bad guys are mustache-twirling evil, others are not quite so bad. Fallon in particular does some fairly reprehensible things in the name of keeping law and order. This book has a strong theme of power as a corrupting influence, all the gentlemen (and indeed one lady) definitely feel the corrupting influence of absolute power. Interestingly enough, the majority of the female characters are immune to its influence. Indeed, they act as the book’s moral compass, but Bridgit also challenges her man when she feels he is acting like a bit of a wanker, which is honestly most of the story.
I liked the way the novel showed the influence of war and constant conflict on a child with Kerrin. His need to patrol the corridors all night to protect his parents feels like a true reaction to his upbringing. It’s a refreshing change from so many stories showing a child growing up with no consequences under totally abnormal circumstances. Kerrin and Bridget were definitely the stand out characters for me, despite them being less defined than Fallon.
The Not So Good
Despite having read the preceding novels, I found it difficult to pick up the story. Duncan Lay starts the novel as if the reader has just now put down the previous book. Unfortunately because of the lack of re-introduction, it took a few chapters before I could remember what had come before. This really affected my enjoyment of the story.
My Rating: (3 / 5)
The Poisoned Quarrel by Duncan Lay is published in Australia by Momentum Books and is available 30th June.