Book Review : The Queen’s Poisoner
By Jeff Wheeler
King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.
Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. But when new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor by proving his worth—through extraordinary means. And only one person can aid his desperate cause: a mysterious woman, dwelling in secrecy, who truly wields power over life, death, and destiny. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
I applaud Jeff Wheeler on his new series. I liked the flow and plotting. I enjoyed the characters. I found The Queen’s Poisoner to be fully intriguing.
The protagonist is Owen, an eight year old boy. I liked Owen because he has the innocence of a child, but wasn’t childish. I thought Owen was well written because children dart from one thing to the next, have their own quirky interests and have to puzzle out the adult world. I found it completely realistic that a child could go from being despondent one moment thinking about his family’s danger to munching on a muffin the next. I have attended funerals where the children of the deceased parent are running around playing tag. Children can’t always process the severity of their circumstances.
Owen’s new best friend, Evie, is brave, fierce and loyal. She has a need to nurture Owen. I have witnessed this same behavior with my youngest son; even in Kindergarten little girls wanted to mother him. She acted as a good foil for Owen.
King Severn appears to be the epitome of evil, think of Richard III. He has killed Owen’s brother, who was a hostage, to ensure Duke Kiskaddon’s loyalty. It is rumored that he killed his own nephews. He ridicules everyone at court but his niece. He has used his Fountain Blessed abilities to manipulate Owen. But even with all of this evidence, there is more to Severn that Owen needs to understand, and he isn’t all evil after all.
The Queen’s Poisoner is a position that few would want and less could fulfill. The Poisoner, Ankarette Tryneowy, must escape the machinations of court and be trustworthy to the Queen. People don’t generally trust a known poisoner, but Owen sees more deeply than others. Owen meets the Poisoner and it changes the course of his life.
The adult characters exhibit nuances that emphasis that no one is all good or all bad. The only completely innocent characters are the children. There were some characters I distrusted and planned to hate, and then I had to revise my plan. I enjoy being surprised by characters.
Wheeler explains some of his inspiration for writing The Queen’s Poisoner was based on his reading about the Wars of the Roses. He had also seen an obscure reference to a poisoner, who was never named, and kept having fountains pop up in his historical reading.
Out of these gossamer threads of thoughts was born the Kingfountain series. The fountain has a divine investiture of power to bless individuals with gifts. The fountain is described as being all around us, speaking to us, as a part of our souls. Life and death both center around the power of the fountain waters. I found his use of a fountain to be a workable metaphor and a good source for the center of his world, and he can easily continue to use the mystical forces of the fountain in future installments in the series.
I am anxious for the next two books in the series! The Queen’s Poisoner is one of my favorite e-books.
It is appropriate for teens if they are interested, but adults will love it. Wheeler is a Christian writer, though this book is fantasy, and the book is clean.
4 out of 5 stars
- the Mother
If you liked this one try The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, A Cast of Stone by Patrick W. Carr and Moon Over Manifest (which is not the same genre, but I still think you would like it if you are a fan of Wheeler) by Clare Vanderpool.