Blog Archive

View My Stats
Friday, June 10, 2022

For the Throne (Wilderwood #2) by Hannah Whitten (Reviewed by Daniel P. Haeusser)

 
 
Official Author Website
Official Author Twitter
Order For the Throne HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of For the Wolf (Wilderwood #1)
 
OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Hannah Whitten has been writing to amuse herself since she could hold a pen, and she figured out sometime in high school that what amused her might also amuse others. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, making music, or attempting to bake. She lives in a farmhouse in Tennessee with her husband, children, a dog, two cats, and probably some ghosts.
 
OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Red and the Wolf have finally contained the threat of the Old Kings but at a steep cost. Red’s beloved sister Neve, the First Daughter is lost in the Shadowlands, an inverted kingdom where the vicious gods of legend have been trapped for centuries and the Old Kings have slowly been gaining control. But Neve has an ally–though it’s one she’d rather never have to speak to again—the rogue king Solmir.
 
Solmir wants to bring an end to the Shadowlands and he believes helping Neve may be the key to its destruction. But to do that, they will both have to journey across a dangerous landscape in order to find a mysterious Heart Tree, and finally to claim the gods’ dark, twisted powers for themselves.
 
Official content warnings can be read HERE.
 
FORMAT/INFO: For the Throne is the second, and concluding novel of the Wilderwood series, and is preceded by For the Wolf. The consists of forty-five chapters plus a “three years ago” introduction and an epilogue. Chapters vary between third-person point-of-views, primarily featuring Red in the Wilderwood and Neve in the Shadowlands. A handful of chapters featuring Raffe also occur, and there is a pair of brief chapters with Eammon and Solmir, respectively. The Valleydan setting also includes a quick journey from the Wilderwood to the coast, across the ocean to the Rylt, and back again.
 
7th June 2022 marked the release of the novel by Orbit Books in paperback and eBook.
 
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I was among the camp that felt relatively neutral about For the Wolf, the first book in the Wilderwood series. My review of that novel echoes many of the thoughts Caitlin G. had in hers here. The unexpected dominance of the romantic elements of the novel took me by surprise, and I found the world-building details lacking.
 
Nevertheless, there were also elements to that novel that I appreciated and made me willing to continue with its sequel. Whitten’s rich, atmospheric writing worked well, and secondary characters of that novel were compelling, hinting at complexities beyond the focus protagonist of second daughter Red and her Wolf, Eammon. The conclusion to For the Wolf seemed to promise a sequel of more depth: more darkness, a chance to feature the more intriguing first daughter Neve, and expansion to realms thus far only hinted at, like the mysterious Shadowlands.
 
Pun intended here: I wolfed down For the Throne in two nights, captivated and entertained beyond what I felt at any point reading the first novel. Additionally, the sequel made me appreciate the first novel a bit more, as plot (or world-building) threads became less cloudy. So, why the sudden difference? I believe there are a few interlacing reasons.
 
Whitten limits For the Wolf by focusing so intensely on Red and Eammon, on the building of their romantic and magical partnership. This restrains the setting mostly to the Wilderwood, with only brief interludes back to Valleydan to keep up with Neve’s plot threads. With Lady Wolf Red and Wolf Eammon married embodiments of the Wilderwood now, For the Throne has the opportunity and room to expand and breathe. Readers get to see more of the world that Whitten has crafted, and a deeper exploration of Neve, her longtime friend Raffe, and Solmir, the last of the Old Kings.
 
From the start, I found Red to be a fascinating character on her own terms. But, the flatness and cartoonish emo of Eammon blunted that potential for her development. Though she didn’t lose her individuality to choose things for herself, Red became a part of a partnership, a romance, that I found unconvincing and somewhat obnoxious. Neve’s romantic journey fortunately played as the complete opposite (consistent I guess in that she’s Red’s mirror image thematically here.)
 
The first book ended with Neve being drawn into the Shadowlands along with supposed villain Solmir. That scene hinted there might be more to things than what characters assumed, and that becomes verified as For the Throne starts. Solmir has rebelled against the other Kings, rejecting self-declared divinity, avoiding their submission to the upside-down realm where they’ve been entrapped, and actively fighting against their plans to return to the ‘real’ world to exert tyrannical rule. Solmir’s actions in the previous book simply betray his absolute dedication to destroying his fellow kings, a goal that both he and Neve slowly realize perfectly align with hers. But can she convince him to avoid sacrificing those she loves in the process? And can he make amends for the monstrous actions he has taken for the supposed greater good, such as the death of Red’s childhood friend?
 
Solmir demonstrates a complexity and darkness surpassing what Whitten kept telling readers Eammon had in the first book. And he has a personality filled with biting wit to balance the self-depreciation. Far more palatable, he and Neve make a more unlikely romantic pairing, and one that develops naturally in steps, in contrast to Red and Eammon’s relationship in the first book. (That was much more love-at-first site, and developments were only slow acknowledgement of what each already knew.)
 
Though focusing far more on Neve, For the Throne improves pacing by giving Red’s plot threads more equivalent page time, rather than through ‘interludes’. This becomes possible because the plot of the series now closely ties Red and Neve into mirror image step. It works much better for the flow of the novel, bringing the central Red – Neve relationship into focus over the Red – Eammon one. It also gives time to develop Raffe’s character and introduce a wonderful new character that an enigmatic, prophetic text foreshadows at the very start of the novel.
 
Like its predecessor did for Red, For the Throne applies the core theme of choice and agency for Neve. But it also effectively develops this for all the other characters and brings everything to a satisfying conclusion. Though some elements of the world remain vague and the magical rules still can seem arbitrary, Whitten does a better job in this sequel at supplying details to readers without confusion. This is largely because misinformed character assumptions of the first novel are mostly gone. Plus, when they do occur in this sequel, they work more effectively as narrative twists to delight the reader who has enough grounding now.
 
I’m left with wondering if this series could have worked better starting at a later point in the story chronology, editing them into a single volume, or increasing the balance between elements and characters in For the Wolf. Of course, that is moot. Moreover, there are a lot of readers out there who adored the first book. I suspect they will equally enjoy the second as well, if not love it more.
 
But, for those who may have read the first one and I either disliked it or felt relatively neutral as I did, I would encourage still giving For the Throne a try. It both improves upon things some readers may have disliked about the first and then gives increased context to that first novel to make one feel more fulfilled at having read it than if one were to just stop there with the series incomplete, the real tale unfinished, the twin sisters – the real love story of The Wilderwood – divided.
 
CONCLUSION: For the Throne is an extremely satisfying conclusion to Whitten’s Wilderwood dark romantic fantasy series. It’s an inventive fairy tale sequel that elevates the first novel from any perceived shortcomings to effectively tell the enchanting story of twin sisters tied together in love. Each of them fights, in linked mirror-image worlds, to save humanity. In so doing they affirm their free will, protect the magic with which they’ve been entrusted, and preserve the right of all to pursue lives of choice.

0 comments:

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Cardinal Black” by Robert McCammon!!!


Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Cyber Mage” by Saad Z. Hossain


Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Miss  Percy's” by Quenby Olson!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The True Bastards” by Jonathan French!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Rumble In Woodhollow” by Jonathan Pembroke!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Starless Crown” by James Rollins!!!
Order HERE