Book Review: The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May

vanishing throne

My review for Book 1 of this series can be found here.

Favourite quotes

“The truth is, memories weigh a great deal. Each one bends your bones a little more until the heft of them wears you down. Now I know that some scars go so deep that they never fade”.

“Truth is never as pretty as a lie. It’s never as appealing. It’s a sword to the gut, the thing that reminds us that some people aren’t who we thought they are. Truth forces us to confront the ugliest parts of the people we love”.

“Don’t look at me for ideas. I just got to keep my body parts”.

 

Aileana Kameron has made a grave mistake, and now the faeries have been released and are wreaking havoc upon Scotland. She doesn’t know how long the assault on Edinburgh has been going on for – days, weeks, months, years have no meaning in Sith-bhruth, where she is trapped and kept prisoner by Lonnrach. Since Aileana is a Falconer – the last representative of a race that kills faeries – and Lonnrach is a baobhan sith, i.e. brother of the very same faerie that killed Aileana’s mother, their relationship is the opposite of pleasant. What Lonnrach puts her through in order to find what he needs is nearly impossible to bear, and it changes Aileana forever. These changes become clear when she escapes Lonnrach with the help of another badass lady and sees what has become of Scotland and her friends. The remaining people of Scotland have formed a fragile alliance with the fae in order to survive, but both the human world and the fae world are on the brink of destruction. The last remaining Falconer can get the solution to saving the worlds, but at a grave cost. Is Aileana ready to – literally – die to save the realms? Or is she still consumed by vengeance?

 

I waited for “The Vanishing Throne” pretty much since the moment I closed the very last page of “The Falconer” in the summer of 2014. I wanted to know more about Aileana’s world, and I wanted to see more badassery, but at the same time, I was anxious about “the second book syndrome”. Fortunately, “The Vanishing Throne” is just as good as “The Falconer” and in some aspects, it even surpasses it. In my review of “The Falconer” I mentioned that I wasn’t thrilled with the cliffhanger, but book 2 starts right after book 1 ends, which worked really well and made for a smooth transition. We don’t see Kiaran and other lovable characters from book 1 for a while – the first part is Aileana-centric, and provides a lot of material for character development, that’s written in a very compelling way. This part also provides us with some insight into the fae magic, which is quite disturbing. The Fae are generally pretty creepy creatures, I find, and I was glad to see that the author doesn’t romanticise them like many other fantasy authors I read. The bone-chilling history of the kingdoms of Seelie and Unseelie that’s revealed throughout the book just adds to the “creepy” factor. We also learn more about the world in which the series is set, which is what I was hoping would happen in this installment.

Aileana Kameron is the best part of “The Vanishing Throne” – just like “The Falconer”. Her development is central to the novel, as it was in book 1. If in book 1 she was primarily driven by revenge for her mother’s death, book 2 shows us that Aileana’s actions that involve killing faeries are no longer about avenging her mother’s murder – she is determined to save the world, even if it costs her her own life. She is not perfect – she feels like a real person, with strengths and flaws, and the emotions she experiences throughout the book are felt by the reader, even when the author doesn’t name them. We all know that a great author shows but doesn’t tell, and May has done the job perfectly in “The Vanishing Throne” when it came to the reader getting to know the Aileana that has gone through what few people have. The writing in “The Vanishing Throne” is even better than in “The Falconer” – as I pointed out, May’s way with words has genuinely made Aileana Kameron a stand-out. The setting in book 2 is much more sinister than in book 1 – there are fewer dances and no society functions, but a lot more blood, death and torture. The blend of the fae and human realms is very vivid, and the reader has an excellent picture of the world created by the author and inspired by the Scottish folklore in their head.

“The Vanishing Throne” is NOT a happy book. “The Falconer” wasn’t either, but the second installment is much darker, and Derrick’s jokes unfortunately bring less relief when the characters know that the world is ending. The romance between Aileana and Kiaran is more interesting than it was in the first book, but after finishing the book, I felt that there was even less hope for them than after Aileana was pulled under into Sith-bhruth at the end of “The Falconer”. The ending of book 2 is less of a cliffhanger than that of book 1, but it is nonetheless quite shocking and makes you yearn for book 3, which unfortunately doesn’t come out until 2017. I can wait, but it’ll be hard! My rating of “The Vanishing Throne” is 7.5/10.

 

Recommendations:

You might like “The Falconer” series if you liked:

“The Infernal Devices” by Cassandra Clare (and “Shadowhunters” TV series)

“Fever” series by Karen Marie Moning

“Throne of Glass” series by Sarah J Maas

 

Have you read “The Falconer” series? What are your favourite books set in Scotland? Do let me know in the comments! 🙂

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