Every installment of this series just keeps getting better and better!
I was pretty distraught at the end of the second one, when (spoiler alert) Evie marries Iago and leaves Owen desolate. I admired them both for their determination to remain loyal to King Severn, but the king’s orders made no sense to me, and he was also becoming a tyrant. Eventually Owen gets fed up with this too, hence the title of Book 3 here.
The story opens with Owen still heartbroken over Evie, though she has clearly moved on, loves her new husband, and has two children with him. So, there went the idea of any sort of reconciliation between them. But I also no longer wanted there to be a reconciliation, because Evie was so cold in her choice to obey Severn and so harsh toward Owen in telling him that it was her choice to marry Iago instead of him. One who so easily changes allegiance is hardly worth having, or at least that’s how I felt.
Meanwhile, in his bitterness, Owen sees himself becoming more and more like the twisted Severn. Little by little, disappointment by disappointment, Severn had become that monster after all, and Owen fears that the same fate also awaits him. The theme of types and shadows repeating themselves throughout the ages echoes throughout the story, and it was one of my favorite parts: it made this feel so much bigger than just a story about these particular characters in this particular time. At Severn’s bidding, Owen goes to propose marriage to Sinia, the Duchess of Brythonica, never expecting her to accept: in fact, the whole point was to insult her to the point of provoking her to war. But she turns out to be nothing like Owen expects. She is so good, so wise, so powerful in Fountain magic, that she ends up winning him over. But not before he has the chance to betray her in the most intimate way–following the pattern of a story that has played out many times in history.
This sounds like the story is mostly about romantic dynamics, but it definitely isn’t. There is so much going on–so many Arthurian allusions, so many intricacies. I guessed a couple of the biggest plot points, but none of the details of how they would come to pass. And I love that Wheeler has set up the next book to follow King Drew, who is essentially the Arthur character. In the epilogue, King Drew, with Owen’s help, frees the Merlin character from his imprisonment. Can’t wait to see how this plays out!
My rating: *****
Violence: fantasy only
Sexual content: none (despite many opportunities for it–I’m convinced the author omits it deliberately, and I like him all the more for it!)
Political content: none; in fact there are explicit positive values espoused, especially forgiveness of one’s enemies. Very family friendly