Overview (No Spoilers):
Taking a break from my SPFBO reads, I was eagerly looking forward to finishing The Red Queen’s War trilogy. Having thoroughly enjoyed The Prince of Fools and The Liar’s Key, the last installment was everything and more I could have hoped for, with the added bonus that Lawrence merged two of my favorite things, mythology and science into one satisfyingly complex conclusion. Actually, due to the quantity of action sequences, intermixed with critical plot twists in the final chapters of this trilogy, a reread would surely garner additional insights that were overlooked the first time through. I’m currently reading the second book in Lawrence’s The Broken Empire, which coexists with The Red Queens War in the same literary realm. The wayward prince protagonists of these two trilogies make the same acquaintances and even pop up for the occasional guest appearance. Based on this additional layer of delightful complexity, I find myself constantly pondering the timeline of these two series, and fully anticipate I will be exploring this quandary more in upcoming reviews for the King of Thorns and the Emperor of Thorns as the timeline questions will likely naturally resolve. Another query would be the appropriate reading order of these two series as there is minor overlap.
The Liar’s Key left off on such a cliffhanger that I’d fully assumed The Wheel of Osheim would pick back up at the pivotal, adventure brimming moment. Lawrence threw me off kilter by instead opening up book three with an action pack sequence vastly different from anything I could have anticipated. Throughout the rest of the book, the events immediately following The Liar’s Key are teased out in measured flashbacks. From a personal standpoint, when an author toys with my expectations as to where a story is headed, whether in between novels or mid read I generally enjoy the surprise, with my mind actively recalibrating to the new scenario. The Wheel of Osheim was no exception as the change in direction served to keep the reader actively engaged and curious.
The Wheel of Osheim was an obvious ending to the trilogy, with the pawns that have been maneuvered since The Prince of Fools now positioned for the grand finale, but it was a true conclusion in many other ways. Without giving away too much, we were granted an opportunity to have properly emotional goodbye to our favorites, even ones we thought were long out of our reach. Yes, I cried. More than once.
Despite running the risk of sounding like a broken record considering any of the books I’ve reviewed by Lawrence, I find his protagonists to be so compelling, especially when compared to those starring in comparable novels. In this case, Jalan is a self professed coward with other vices not typically associated with the hero character. This deviation from the norm in The Prince of Fools requires adjustment of the ingrained protagonist stereotypes by the reader. For example, Jalan’s questionable morals that initially may have vexed, morphs into fondness that only continues to build with each subsequent novel, until by The Wheel of Osheim, Jalan’s well established yellow streak is a source of genuine source of amusement.
Lawrence delivers an action packed trilogy in The Red Queen’s War that grows exponentially more complex and detailed with each installment, Overall, the pacing in The Wheel of Osheim will keep the reader on the edge of their seats, all the while neatly (or bloodily) wrapping up loose ends.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- Snorri’s time through Hell triggered all the tears. We were able to say goodbye to poor Tuttugu and he was able to have closure with his family. I loved that he was given the opportunity to fight with his son and that he had earned a place in Valhalla.
- I like the ending of The Wheel of Osheim, despite initially having misgivings that Jal hadn’t progressed to King. That being said, after further pondering I shouldn’t have been surprised about this conclusion in a book that hasn’t conformed to any preconceived molds. That being said, I still wasn’t on board that he was sleeping with Lisa, with his friend/her husband still alive, but refer back to my aforementioned sentence discussing expectations.
- Yay science! I was so excited when it started to dawn on me that the Wheel was actually a particle accelerator.