Surprisingly extensive, Broken Throne reminded me why I loved Red Queen in the first place (while skillfully avoiding the series’ weak spots). Four stars.
I really wasn’t going to read Broken Throne. I was going to resist. And even as I finish off this post, I’m almost wishing I had held out a little longer, given how disappointed I am with the way the author uses twitter. But I loved the Red Queen series. It didn’t seem right not to see it through. And yes, I did really really want to see Cal and Mare reunite. Sue me.
If you’re not familiar, here’s what Broken Throne is: In a move that I dearly hope will not become YA tradition (because few authors will be able to pull it off like Aveyard), Harper Teen has published five hundred pages of fanfiction from the author of a bestselling series.
I know, I know. It isn’t fanfic if the author herself wrote it. But read this thing and you’ll know what I mean–in purpose and style (though not quality), this is identical to post-finale short fics that follow the end of any beloved work.
This didn’t seem like a great idea when I first heard it. The previous novellas were nothing to write home about. Besides, the series’ biggest weakness is structural integrity. The plot starts to fall apart if you think about it too long, so revisiting the series seemed like a dangerous little game.
But my worries were for nothing. This was a surprisingly captivating collection. Broken Throne will be a godsend after War Stormfor anyone flying through the series for the first time, even if it is a little late for me to have truly appreciated it.
I was expecting this to be a simple set of novellas, but there’s way more in this book. Between the short stories, there’s more to read–notes, message
In terms of pages, that extra content is the bulk of the book. We don’t reach new novellas for some time, and we don’t get to events that happen post-series until over halfway through.
If you’re reading Broken Throne because you want to find out what happened to all the major characters after War Storm, start on page 285. (This is 285 out of 468 in the US hardcover edition.)
If you’re reading specifically for the Mare/Cal reunion story that was obviously going to happen, go to page 355.
If you’re reading for more Maven content, go to Ao3.
Kidding. But only sort of.
Because as much as this book feels like fanfiction, it isn’t wish-fulfillment or canon patch. It’s from the same author that made those decisions the first time around, so she’s only digging further into the endgame we saw. (I don’t mean this as a bad thing at all–it makes complete sense for the author to have confidence in her choices and stay true to the story. I just want to warn readers not to expect any reversals.)
My review is what I would consider spoiler-free, but I will mention the characters and circumstances that come up. Aveyard gave out very little information about what this book would contain, so dedicated readers might want to go in completely fresh. You have been warned.
Previously published. Only worth it if you really want some Cal-related feels. Otherwise, skip it.
Much better than “Queen Song,” but still a little thin.
Diana Farley is a fan-favorite character for good reason, but she’s rather flat on the page in this novella. “Steel Scars” follows Farley as the events of Red Queen are just beginning. There’s some very sweet Shade/Farley content, but it’s mostly a story of the Scarlet Guard.
Unlike the other stories, “World Behind” follows an entirely new crop of characters. The characters and events of the series are discussed, but mostly we’re following the story of two new characters struggling to find a place in the new world. Skip if you’re only here for the characters you already love, but if you’re willing to give it a shot, it’s a fun little ride.
Once, I might have left her to this. Let her drive me away only to call me back when she was ready. But that isn’t fair. And I won’t live that way anymore. I don’t have to.”
“Iron Heart” opens on Evangeline wearing shades, sipping a mojito in a garden, and that pretty much sets the tone.
This is the story that reminded me why I loved Red Queen in the first place. Say what you will about Aveyard, but she can construct a scene. My playwright’s brain delights in the rise and fall of the dialogue-driven, purposeful chapters.
The Red Queen series verged on true greatness in the moments that it left Mare’s POV in favor of the unexpected perspectives of more interesting characters. The brief introduction of an Evangeline POV in King’s Cage was thrilling. The widening of scope that perspective-hopping made possible was a big part of what made War Storm captivating.
Where will these people lead us? It doesn’t matter. I’ll always go.”
Aveyard nails Evangeline’s perspective again, bringing in Elaine’s as well.
Oh, my sweet, stupid children. Yep, Mare is still dumb. Yep, Cal still has no idea what’s happening around him. Yep, they’re still amazing together.
Mare and Cal spend most of “Fire Light” apart, trying to deal with the trauma conga line that ran them over in the last four books. Eventually, of course, they find their way back for some banter and longing looks and off-page sexytimes.
Just about what I expected.
I’m ashamed to say I reached for him first. His wrist, his neck, searching for a pulse that wasn’t there. He already felt cold.”
Yep, there’s more. This one isn’t properly a novella, so it wasn’t counted in the five that promotional material mentioned. It’s a scant three chapters–a scene in narrative, a page of diary entries, then another scene in narrative.
If you came for some Maven closure… you’ll want to check this one out.