The Poison Throne Paperback – Apr 7 2010
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Marvellous, vivid writing, and storytelling at its absolute best ... I was utterly engrossed Roddy Doyle Atmospheric, complex, and intense ... this epic starts strong and doesn't falter one iota, ending with a cliffhanger that will leave readers demanding more Starred review from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Vivid, colourful writing IRISH TIMES Has all the ingredients of an international bestseller: political skulduggery, passion, violence, loyalty and betrayal ... compelling, exciting and full of suspense IRISH INDEPENDENT --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Born and raised in Dublin, Celine Kiernan trained at the Sullivan Bluth Studios as a classical feature character animator and has spent the majority of her working life in the film business. She is also a freelance illustrator. THE POISON THRONE is her first novel; she is currently completing The Moorehawke Trilogy. She lives in Virginia, County Cavan, Ireland. Her website can be found at www.celinekiernan.com
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Top Customer Reviews
The book may be slow to some. Yet I was so interested in the political intrigue, that the pace was good for me. You won't find much action or adventure. Instead, there's lots of politics and a lot of relationship development and character building. Which is fine for me, it's certainly a different approach towards fantasy (where you would expect a lot of action and fighting). It was at a perfect pace and I could read this without feeling confused, and I got the characters all straightened out and was able to understand what was happening as there's several different plots branching out. Considering this if the first book in a trilogy, you won't get many questions answered. That may be frustrating and it may seem as if you really didn't get much out of the book at all, however I feel that this book was a good starter for a trilogy. It created your questions, made an interesting world for you to get used to, and gave you a set list of characters so you know who is who without getting confused. Besides, what would be the point of a trilogy if all questions were answered in the first book?
I absolutely loved the characters in this book. I enjoyed Wynter and her relationship with her father , but her friendships with both Razi and Christopher are also interesting and differ from each other. I found no fault with any of them and liked all of the characters.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Wynter Moorehawke and her ailing father Lorcan have returned home after five years away in the barbaric North. Home once more, Wynter cannot wait to renew her friendship with her beloved quasi-siblings Razi and Alberon. Both sons of King Jonathan--one legitimate and one illegitimate--Wynter grew up with these boys, running all over the castle that was their home. But when she comes across Razi in the kitchens, Wynter discovers that things have changed in the years she's been gone. And not for the better. Jonathan has changed, gone from a tolerant and fair ruler to a cruel and unreasonable lord intent on naming his legitimate (and suspiciously missing) heir Alberon as dead and grooming the illegitimate Razi on the throne in his place. Tensions are more than high as Razi--a gifted doctor--does not want to be king at all, his people would prefer open war to a dark-skinned by-blow on the throne, and the king appears increasingly unstable and violent. Into this maelstrom Wynter is thrown without a by your leave, yet she is simultaneously expected to accept all these changes without question and play her part as an apprentice carpenter under her father's tutelage. But Razi needs her. And his unusual and generally unwelcome friend Christopher seems to be always underfoot and in need of a watchful eye. And Wynter is determined to stand by her friend and get to the bottom of this mounting disaster.
I was sucked into this novel right away. I enjoyed Wynter's easy relationship with her father and it was fun feeling my way around the castle along with her as she struggled to come to terms with the magnitude of the changes that had overtaken it in her absence. I loved the slight hints at the supernatural in the cats Wynter used to be able to communicate with and the many ghosts that haunt the castle and can clearly tell when danger is afoot. And, though initially a bit confusing, I liked the historical setting in a sort of alternate Europe, sprinkled here and there with references to such places as Padua and the Moroccos. And I was all set to enjoy Wynter, with her brotherly affection for the educated and kind Razi and her righteously indignant banter with the handsome rascal Christopher. However, somewhere around the halfway mark my enthusiasm began to pall. Nothing seemed to happen and each of the characters became oh-so-tiresome. Wynter was reduced to running here and there after the various men in her life. All of whom, by the way, needed a swift kick in the pants if you ask me. There seemed to be a sort of imbalance across the whole narrative. Characters who are innocent and loving one minute turn into raving lunatics the next, hugs and fond reminiscences are bedfellows with what felt like an out-of-place amount of surprisingly cruel and coarse violence. Wynter adores her "brother" Razi and, despite being frequently annoyed with him putting her off and not telling her things, she forgives him at the drop of a hat. And the instant forgiving soon extends to much more heinous crimes than withholding the truth. So much so that I started to lose my respect for both of them. Disliking Razi made it difficult to believe in him and in Wynter's affection for him. And, as much as I liked Christopher, with his mutilated hands and his mysterious past, I was not exactly keen on 15-year-old Wynter falling for a young man quite so promiscuous as he. All of this is to say that there was quite a bit of potential but it was a struggle to finish and ultimately fell flat for me.
Upon returning home Wynter discovers there are many changes in her home kingdom. Small things at first, slightly amiss; like the cats for one thing, and the ghosts for another, as neither seems willing to talk to her as they had before.
Wynter soon realises she has returned to a kingdom in chaos. King Jonathan's once civilised and peaceful kingdom has drastically changed with the reintroduced gibbets and cages, neither seen since the dark days, many years before Wynter was born. King Jonathan also has one son missing, and another unwillingly forced to take his place.
There is the constant threat of danger as sides are taken and the very real risk of imprisonment, torture and death. There are also the whispers of the 'Bloody Machine', but Wynter is at a loss as to what it is, what it has to do with the drastic changes to the kingdom, and what it could possibly have to do with her father.
Wynter finds herself in a precarious situation as she discovers there are those willing to threaten her safety for the submission of power from those she is close to. But there is also the stranger Christopher Garron to worry about. Christopher obviously does not fit in, and despite her friends faith in him, she is not sure he is altogether trustworthy.
Ultimately Wynter has a decision to make, she must chose between her father, her friend and her kingdom. It is a choice that will lead her to deceive those she loves and leave her alone in terrible danger.
There are real moments of tenderness, friendship, intrigue and tension in this story as terrible choices must be made and the consequences lived with. The character are portrayed as vivid, complex and instantly likeable. The story is such that it leaves you desperately wanting more, and hoping it will not be a long wait to discover Wynter's fate in the continuing stories.
Wynter has always known that life at court was hazardous, but now there seems to be danger everywhere and all former refuges, with her formerly strong father, with the support of the princes whom she regards as brothers, with the people of the castle whom were almost like parents to her, no longer secure. Prince Razi is powerless, his friend Christopher is threatened if he does not go along with the King, and Razi worries that anyone close to him, including Wynter and her father, will also be used to control him, so he has to keep his distance. No one knows where Prince Alberon is or what he is up to. The King suspects he is in league to overthrow him and in order to save the Kingdom he will stop at nothing, even if it means destroying his own sons and his old friendship with Wynter's father, or even resort to using a secret and horrific weapon that even puts fear into the heart of Wynter's gruff and strong-willed father.
Wynter is thrust into the middle of danger and intrigue. She's still young enough to long for the safety and security of the past--with her old friends and pleasant way of life--and desires to run from the demands of the future. But she quickly learns that there is no safe refuge and she is forced to act, no matter how unwillingly.
This is an exciting and suspenseful tale, the beginning of a trilogy that will relate the complete story. The characters are wonderfully drawn and very alive, from the servants to the king himself, who can seem both mad and evil and yet very human and understandable. Raji and Christopher are instantly intriguing and sympathetic. Wynter was a bit harder for me to bond with as she is at a pivotal point in her life, still young and uncertain but trying to grow into her abilities as a trained apprentice and someone able to follow in the footsteps of her indomitable father--and at times she seems a little too self-centered and overly concerned with small things. Because of her age and because she's the point of view character, there is a strong young adult feel to the book, but there's also enough complexity and other characters to easily appeal to older adults. I'm well in the latter group and am eagerly awaiting the next book.
Speaking of settings, the book only really has one. The royal palace/keep. Other than a brief period on the road to and from this palace at the beginning and end of the story, all of the action takes place within the grounds of the building. To me, this limited the book somewhat, as the unchanging setting made the book seem slow paced, and not in the traditional fantasy style, which is what I was expecteing. (Although as I said, I found some confusion with the Genre).
The strongest point of the novel is the characterisation of all the major characters. The characters are so well described, the relationships between them are well defined, if not explained initially, and the characteristics are believably realistic. The most moving scene, and the one with the most impact, is the first "departure" scene, where one of the main characters leaves the rest. The emotion in that scene is exquisitely written, and draws emotion from the reader. AUTHOR should be extremely proud of her characters. In some ways they are more realistic than any other characters that I remember reading, as their motives and emotions change and twist from scene to scene, particularly the King's, whilst all the time remaining true to the personality of the character. AUTHOR seems to find a way to let us see all sides of a character.
Except for Wynter and Lorcan, the main character and her father, who are undeniably good, each character has a changing and undefined place on the scale of right and wrong. None of the supporting characters are clearly defined as either, but reside in the grey area between good and evil. This again supports the realism of the novel, and while commendable, leads to confusion as to who the real antagonist is. As it is, I'm not sure.
This lack of antagonist is one of the things that contribute to the poor quality of the books plot. Essentially, the novel chronicles Wynter's time in the palace, where things have changed since she was last there. As the novel takes it's course, we don't find really find out why things have changed, although there are hints, while all the time, the palace is still changing. But there are few action scenes, or major events, and so the overall storyline is slow-paced, and towards the beginning easier to put down than I normally find fantasy books.
Having said that, The book is easy to read, and although it is easy to put down, it is also easy to pick up again. While the plot and pace of this book wasn't brillant, it is the first in The Moorehawke Trilogy, and the evidence suggest to a stronger plot and a faster pace in the next book. Despite the shortcomings of this first one, I look forwards to reading the second book, especially if it is as well written with as strong characterisation.