Published: 1st September 2009 by Allen & Unwin
Format: Paperback, 480 pages
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A friend. A father. A kingdom. Which would you sacrifice?
Wynter returns from a five-year exile in the bleak Northlands to find her beloved homeland in turmoil. King Jonathan's civilised, multicultural realm is no more; the gibbets and cages have returned. Days of laughter, friendly ghosts and gossipy cats remain only in Wynter's memory - the present confronts her with power play, dark torture chambers, violent ghosts, and cats (those still alive) too scared to talk to humans. The Inquisition is a real and present danger.
Crown Prince Alberon is missing. There are murmurings of a 'Bloody Machine' of untold destructive power. And as Wynter and her friends, Prince Razi and the mysterious Christopher Garron, seek to restore stability to the fragile kingdom, risking death at every turn, Wynter is forced to make a terrible choice.
It’s the characters and their relationships that really make this book. Wynter’s relationship with Prince Razi, whom she calls ‘brother’, was especially sweet. I think they behaved very much like siblings. Her sudden and irrational jealousy of Christopher, Razi’s best friend, irritated me until I realised acts just like a sister would. Wynter also has a wonderful relationship with her father, and she takes care of him lovingly during his illness. I think the story of The Poison Throne is so powerful because of the relationships the characters have with one another.
The action unfolds slowly throughout the book – a large portion of it is dedicated to setting up the characters and world. The world-building is superb – Celine Kiernan describes everything so well it was vivid in my mind. The writing in throughout the book is phenomenal, I found it very hard to put the book down. The story was paced well and flowed very well, and when it finished I was really surprised because I was having so much fun. However, I have to point out that the violence, when it does occur, is graphic, but I think it is in keeping with the tone of the whole world.
If you haven’t already, I recommend you pick this series up. It’s a book that might get overlooked with all the other fantasy available out there, but it’s a diamond in the rough. You do want to go straight from this book to the sequel, The Crowded Shadows, however, so I highly recommend you have it available when you read The Poison Throne.