Book name: King’s Wrath
Author: Fiona McIntosh
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Format: Print, audiobook
Publication Date: 2010
Star Rating: 3/5
King’s Wrath is the final book in the Valisar trilogy, which began with Royal Exile and Tyrant’s Blood.
After a decade in power as emperor, barbarian warlord Loethar is lost in the forests of Penraven while his nephews and niece prepare to steal back the Valisar crown he stole from their father.
After Loethar is revealed as being one of the Valisars (the illegitimate son of King Brennus’s father) he has a stronger claim than any of the younger generation to the throne.
The four-way struggle for power that emerges leads old alliances to crumble and new allegiances to form as everyone races for the crown.
Gavriel is far from certain that Leo, the Valisar prince he has shielded for the last ten years, is fit to rule.
Gavriel’s twin brother Corbel returns with Evie, Leo’s younger sister, after a decade in exile.
Piven, who was previously severely disabled, is now strong and fully mentally capable. He is also determined to seize the throne and is revealed as having Valisar blood because Brennus was his father.
Only Loethar seems to lack interest in continuing to rule Penraven, having taken control of the country in such a bloody manner before.
Piven seizes the Valisar throne early in King’s Wrath and makes a deal with Loethar’s half-brother Stracker. Together they divide the Steppes into Stracker’s control and Penraven into Piven’s orbit.
In order to wield power, the Valisars must each bond with a magician, or aegis. This involves a particularly unpleasant process called trammelling, where the Valisar royal consumes a part of the aegis.
The aegis then falls under the control of the Valisar and the latter is able to take power using the magic embodied in the aegis. They are also protected from attack by the aegis’s magic.
Evie, Leo and Loethar must each locate their aegis and find a way to trammel them. Piven has already done so in a particularly loathsome manner that involved eating part of Griven’s flesh.
Evie, Leo and Loethar face the challenge of bonding with their aegis and a key test of their fitness to rule lies in how humanly they perform that task. Consume can have many meanings, as some of them discover.
Once each Valisar has their aegis the scene is set for the final showdown in which one of them will emerge victorious and rule Penraven.
Each of the four has a blood claim on the throne. The competition between uncle and three siblings made for tense drama because of their close relations to each other.
Over the course of three books, the 'Valisar' trilogy has developed each of the main characters beyond all recognition. This is one of its strengths. The story arc is long but the changes in each character kept it feeling fresh.
The people you rooted for in the first book are far from the ones you want to see succeed by the time King’s Wrath concludes.
Evie’s return from exile in our own world was a great example of portal fantasy. She has been protected by Corbel in the modern world we recognise, and her natural healing talents have emerged through her medical career.
Magic has enabled Evie to age twice as quickly so the person we see in King’s Wrath is an adult, the same age as her brothers and ready to stake her claim.
Piven was an excellent villain, giving space for Loethar (the villain of the last two books) to grow via a redemption arc. Evie and Leo were the two serious contenders for the throne and their battle at the end for supremacy was enthralling.
A solid end to the trilogy, wrapping everything up nicely in a satisfying way.
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