I thoroughly enjoyed the first book The Thousand Names in this entertaining Muskets and Magic series – see my review here. Would The Shadow Throne be as much fun?
The King of Vordan is dying, and his daughter, Raesinia, is destined to become the first Queen in centuries – and a ripe target for the ambitious men who seek to control her. But politics knows no loyalties, especially for Duke Orlanko. He will bow his knee to no Queen. Freshly returned from their recent victories abroad, Colonel Janus, Marcus d’Ivoire and Winter Ihernglass must defeat the Duke using muskets, magic and every weapon at their command.
Wexler has been smart in completely changing the backdrop to this adventure, thus immediately giving it a different tone and feel. While the first book was set in a dry, desert country where our protagonists were the outsiders, this volume has them back home, grappling with palace politics. Wexler’s smooth writing delivers a cracking read, providing plenty of thrills with engaging, likeable characters. I particularly enjoyed the extra little bits of information we were given about Marcus, although Janus remains intriguingly enigmatic. Winter’s story arc was also strong, as her past catches up with her in a big way and we meet with Jane, the girl in the orphanage with her who helped her survive the miserable conditions. Nowadays she is known by the folks living in the docks area as ‘Mad Jane’.
But the character at the heart of this book is the young princess, who should be spending most of the tale confined to the tower where she is living. And she doesn’t… The scene where she doesn’t and we discover why had my jaw dropping. Wexler writes with an engaging verve and enthusiasm that nonetheless demonstrates great skill. I was gripped by the story and burned through the 641 pages in an impressively short time as I was desperate to discover what was going to happen next.
There was no middle book slump going on with The Shadow Throne, as Wexler brings this slice of action to a satisfying conclusion, leaving sufficient dangling plot points for me to be very happy to have the next book already stacked up beside my bed. Marital bliss is marvellous – if it hadn’t been for Himself’s recommendation, I would never have picked up The Thousand Names – and I’m so very glad I did.