The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller

August 18, 2014 Reviews 4 ★★★★★

The Falcon Throne by Karen MillerThe Falcon Throne (The Tarnished Crown #1) by Karen Miller
Published: August 26th 2014 by Orbit Books
Format: ARC, 528 pages
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

When kingdoms clash, every crown will be tarnished by the bloody price of ambition. In a divided kingdom, some will do anything to seize the crown.

A BASTARD LORD, rising up against his tyrant cousin, sheds more blood than he bargained for.

A ROYAL CHILD, believed dead, sets his eyes on regaining his father's stolen throne.

A DUKE'S WIDOW, defending her daughter, defies the ambitious lord who would control them both.

AND TWO BROTHERS, divided by ambition, will learn the true meaning of treachery.

All of this will come to pass, and nothing will remain as it once was. Royal houses will fall, empires will be reborn,and those who seek the Falcon Throne will pay for it in blood.

I am still on a high from this book. I’m actually avoiding reading anything else so that I can prolong the feeling The Falcon Throne has left me with.

Reading epic fantasy can get a little repetitive, especially since these things have trends. Not too many people are writing Shannara and Sword of Truth like epic fantasies with magic and swords and wizards and elves. The genre is moving towards courtly politics, the fates of bastards and kings and princesses, with magic subtly woven into it. These kinds of works tend to read more like novelisations of our own histories than the kinds of make-believe of Tolkien and Sanderson.

Where am I going with this?

I was absolutely thrilled when an unexpected ARC of The Falcon Throne landed in my mailbox. Like, I danced at the post-office. Karen Miller’s books have always captured my imagination, but the sheer scope and genius of this series dazzles me.

There’s so much more going on in this world than a displaced prince and his lost kingdom, than a tyrant duke and his oppressed people. This is a story about a varied group of people, all nobility, trying to navigate the treacherous political waters of their three countries. Not only is there all this history between their nations, there are personal ambitions, secrets, and of course politics.

Since I read the ARC, I didn’t have the luxury of a map! I think I would have benefited from one, but I didn’t miss it like I may have with other works. Miller makes it really easy to visualise where countries are in relation to each other and how their politics work. I don’t remember missing the map – the only reason I noticed it wasn’t there was because the first few pages have MAP TO BE INSERTED HERE written on them.

Another thing I love about this book is the variety of the characters. I loved them all! There isn’t a protagonist or antagonist in the story – another reason I dislike the blurb. There just people, with hopes and dreams, who sometimes did things I liked, and more often did things that I didn’t agree with. But every character is well realised and amazingly crafted. Like I said before, it’s like reading novelised version of a particularly turbulent time in our history – it’s totally believable!

I loved the way this book is executed – I think it’s stylistically brilliant πŸ™‚ But I think others may might not like it. It begins in one time period, and then about half way through skips ahead six years. A few hundred pages later it skips ahead another five years, and then near the end skips forward three years. So it spans around fifteen years, and we see our characters grow and mature in ways rarely seen in epic fantasy. Toddlers morph into teens, brash teenagers stumble their way into family life, and middle-aged men hurtle towards old age and death. My only complaint isn’t really a complaint: my ARC didn’t split up the story into sections and I think the time-jumps would have been less jarring if there had been pages that said “Part 1”, “Part 2” etc. I’ll be surprised if the final version doesn’t have this though, so it’s not a huge deal.

I want to focus on a small thing in this review – the inevitable comparisons to A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. One of the interesting things is that the almost viral popularity of the franchise makes stories like The Falcom Throne come across as rip-offs, in the same way that any dystopian story with a teen girl is seen as rip off The Hunger Games. I think readers should be wary of this kind of categorisation: while The Falcon Throne will no doubt be enjoyed by readers who like A Game of Thrones, in its incarnation as a book or a TV series, there will inevitably be differences in the way these authors choose to write their stories.

I’ve loved The Falcon Throne! I’ve been in a haze since I finished it, and I just want to buy lots of copies of it and make others read it. However, at over 500 pages, there’s no doubt that it’s going to challenge some readers! I think fans of the genre will fall in love with this world and its characters and, like me, will be begging to get their hands on the next instalment.

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