Published: July 1, 2014
Pages: 500 (Hardcover)
The ailing King of the Vordan lies on his deathbed. When he dies, his daughter, Raesinia Orboan, will become the first Queen Regnant in centuries—and a ripe target for the ambitious men who seek to control her. The most dangerous of these is Duke Orlanko, Minister of Information and master of the secret police. Having meticulously silenced his adversaries through intimidation, imprisonment, and execution, Orlanko is the most feared man in the kingdom.
And he knows an arcane secret that puts Raesinia completely at his mercy.
Exposure would mean ruin, but Raesinia is determined to find a way to break herself—and her country—out of Orlanko’s iron grip. She finds unlikely allies in the returning war hero Janus bet Vhalnich, fresh from a brilliant campaign in the colony of Khandar, and his loyal deputies, Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass.
As Marcus and Winter struggle to find their places in the home they never thought they would see again, they help Janus and Raesinia set in motion events that could free Vordan from Orlanko’s influence—at the price of throwing the nation into chaos. But with the people suffering under the Duke’s tyranny, they intend to protect the kingdom with every power they can command, earthly or otherwise.
After a riveting debut, Wexler once again spins an exciting, complex story featuring favorites from the first novel and debuting a cast of equally intriguing members involved in the political and social games. I was hooked from the opening chapter featuring Raesinia, princess of Vordan and undercover politico, as she made her escape from the palace of Ohnlei in a very unorthodox manner. Let’s just say that it was dramatic and unexpected. The stakes in The Shadow Throne seem much higher than they were in The Thousand Names, perhaps because the control of the Vordanai Throne is up for grabs and enemies only mentioned before are now very present and all too threatening.
The overall atmosphere of the story has changed dramatically as well; the movement from Khandar to Vordan was synonymous with a drastic change in culture and environment. We go from desert wastes and hamlets to the seemingly more temperate and urban environment of Vordan city, whilst the political environment shifts from rebellion to revolution. Yes, rebellion and revolution are basically the same but in my head the tone and implications are somewhat different. Enough with comparisons, on the meat of the story!
The story was intense and absolutely packed with enough excitement to fill several shipping containers. On one hand you have Raesinia stirring up the commons with her unsuspecting compatriots and on the other you have Janus bet Vhalnich playing his own hand of cards very close to his chest. Really though, we need a third and fourth hand to account for Winter Ihernglass’s activities with the Leatherbacks and Duke Orlanko’s innumerable plots to seize control over Raesinia once she ascends the throne. There is A LOT going on here, but it’s not overwhelming. Rather, it keeps you ensared until the very end and leaves you thirsting for more of the story, more information, and more vengeance. The plots and surprises and intertwining storylines are fantastically done. I also think the concept of the tablets containing the Thousand Names is unbelievably awesome and it makes the whole story 10x more awesome than it already was. I want so badly to see who gets some of the names and what they do to their wielders. We already know how much cooler it made Winter. I really just made the worst pun ever. Sorry guys.
Fans of the Powder Mage trilogy by Brian McClellan and/or the Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne series by Brian Staveley will probably think this is awesome. In short, The Shadow Throne was a pretty good read and I’ll be looking forward to acquiring the Price of Valour (released July 2015) soon as I can!