Book Review: The Hollow Crown
The Kingfountain series #4
By Jeff Wheeler
Following the downfall of a tyrant in the Wall Street Journal bestselling Kingfountain trilogy, years have passed in prosperity for the kingdom of Ceredigion. Now, as the time comes to celebrate the new king’s nuptials, the specter of a new enemy emerges to destroy all that has been painstakingly built in those years.
Tryneowy Kiskaddon has grown up learning military and diplomatic strategy from her father, one of the king’s closest advisors. She feels her destiny lies in defending the kingdom as a knight, not as a Wizr as her parents have decided, though no lady of the realm has taken up the sword in a century. As she seeks to understand her own Fountain-blessed powers, she studies in the tradition of her mother while training in secret and closely following the realm’s politics, alarmed by her mother’s vision of an impending clash and a devastating future.
But the pieces on fate’s game board are in motion, and on the eve of battle, a threatening force irrevocably changes the future of the kingdom and her own. Does Trynne have what it takes to maneuver Ceredigion’s key players into position and outsmart the kingdom’s enemies—even those still concealed in shadow? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
I didn’t know how I would feel about Wheeler’s staging for this series. Each book leap frogs ahead a considerable number of years creating a partial new cast of characters, in addition to some of the previous players. I have ended up enjoying this method because I feel like we are transported to the critical points in the history of Kingfountain and leave the dross behind. Where would be the interest if the kingdom were to flourish? A new conflict arises from outside Ceredigion, but we don’t know if the factions within the kingdom can work together to obliterate the threat.
The protagonist, Tryneowy Kiskaddon (usually called Trynne) is filled with self-doubt and is trying to understand her role that has been chosen by the power of the Fountain. She is perceived differently by others because 1- her parents are powerful leaders and supporters of King Drew (her father is Owen Kiskaddon and mother is Sinia the Wizr), 2- she was disfigured in an attack while young, and she has been uncomfortable with being seen, 3- she is female (and as all women know from first-hand experience that alone is a fact that changes everything). What’s even better is that Wheeler based his character on a young woman who lived in his neighborhood who had developed Bell’s palsy as a child, whom he admired. Her character is also an arch-type Lancelot, frustrated in love and determined to defend the king. He chose great models based on the outcome of the character, Trynne.
I love complex characters and Trynne isn’t the only one. Iago Fallon Llewellyn, the son of Iago Llewellyn and Elizabeth – the Lady Evie, is a mixture of youthful exuberance, rudeness and impatience. Fallon is not the character I would choose for Trynne to love, and though she loves him, it seems they are not destined to be together just like their parents, Owen and Evie were never to marry. Fallon at times is grating because he is so full of bravado; he desperately wants to prove his worth and this is his achilles heel. I want to believe that he will end up being more good than bad, but at this point it is up in the air if he will turn on his homeland because of pride.
Morwenna Argentine, the daughter of the deposed King Severn, is another complex character. She is self-possessed, beautiful, talented and Fountain-blessed. She has spent much time isolated as she lived with her father in a distant estate. Being isolated she has had no friends, but finds a friend in Trynne. There are many who don’t fully trust her because of her parentage, but she has worked to prove loyal to King Drew as she has learned the art of becoming a poisoner. She travelled the ley lines to the country that has threatened the kingdom and warned them of the impending danger.
Through the course of the action we are left with more loose ends than tied knots, so now I will be tied in knots waiting for the next book. I highly recommend this entire series. Wheeler is a gem of a writer!
If you have enjoyed Wheeler as an author I would highly recommend reading A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr and The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I am confident that you will love their books.
A few older books to try would include The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede, Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.