The sentry would not let them pass.
–Celine Kiernan - The Poison Throne - c.2008
The Moorehawke Trilogy; book 1.
Returning home after years in a foreign kingdom Wynter and her father Lorcan are surprised at the changes that have occurred in their absence. The first inklings of how different things are come from a cat and a ghost, because neither of them will speak to Wynter.
But there are other changes, Alberon the king’s heir is missing and the king wants to put Razi, his bastard son, in his place. Razi does not want to be heir. He does not want to become king. He wishes to be what he has trained for all his life, a doctor. He also knows that the people do not want him, a dark skinned, foreign-mothered, Musulman as the Heir.
The main strength of the novel, for me, was the characters. Wynter was perfect. She is a fifteen year old girl, living an unusual life, apprentice carpenter to her father the Lord Protector Moorehawke, she is schooled in politics and court intrigue as well. A former King’s Cat-Keeper, she has a history and a past that she missed. But things change, and the people she left for years have changed, developed new relationships and friends. So jealousy, of course, rears its head.
But Wynter is smart enough to recognise that emotion for what it is. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel it, or react because of it, but she’s prepared to acknowledge that she was wrong.
But people who love plot details may have a problem with this book, because a lot of the plot is only slowly revealed, as the characters uncover exactly what is going on. I love that sort of a story, so this was perfect for me, but I know not everyone feels that way.
I also really enjoyed the slow world-building. There are no info-dumps here, instead we find out about this alternate-European kingdom and its history through conversations and character interactions. The way I love to learn about a place.
I also really liked the fact that the bad-guy isn’t just a bad-guy. He doesn’t explain himself to Wynter, she is of no importance to him, but her father is among his oldest and dearest friends. We don’t get to understand everything that is going on between Lorcan and King Jonathan, but there is certainly a back story there.
The one thing that didn’t fully work for me was the romance aspect of the book, it seemed a little rushed and out of nowhere. But, I liked Wynter, and I liked Christopher, so I’m prepared to overlook that. They do make a nice couple when together, so I hope things work out well for them.
I’m glad that I finally got around to reading this, and I don’t think it’ll be too long before I read the next two books in the trilogy.