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.” – From Amazon
Story – Great
Mister Wheeler wows us with an amazing story. He sets up interesting characters and gives us imagery to think about well after we put the book down.
“I am a foreigner to Ceredigion, so I found the political intrigues and bad blood to be almost incomprehensible at first. Let me summarize it thus. The ruling houses of this kingdom can be likened to members of a large family who hate each other fiercely.”
Style and Formatting – Superb
The Queen’s Poisoner is well edited, as one would expect, and Mister Wheeler blends the styles of many fantasy authors who came before him to give us something that is as pleasing in prose as it is in substance.
“There is a precept amongst us in the Espion. We glory in the tales of our exploits, of our manipulations. We especially love to trick each other. You see, it is a double pleasure to deceive the deceiver.”
Literary Value – Garbage
The Queen’s Poisoner is an excellent example when a formula is used to write a story. It was produced without thought, borrowing all too heavily from the great stories that preceded it, as well as history itself.
A blatant retelling of Richard III, in which the only original idea is that it should be set in a fantasy universe, with all of the usual tropes, and written as if George R. R. Martin was writing a children’s book.
The book is overloaded with names that are as difficult to pronounce as they are to spell and that all too forgettable once the book is closed. The author has only a tentative grasp on what it means to create. When one tries to compare it to other tales, those whose legacy it has used to market itself, it does not compare, like holding a paper man up to Rodin’s The Thinker. It was produced to make money, to resell a story that so many already know while contributing nothing to the intellectual future of the genre. In a decade, this book’s best uses will be to fix a wobbly chair, or to use as a coaster on a table.
“-Dunsdworth was poisoned by Ankarette Tryeowy. His Craving of power and wealth made him go mad by chasing the treasure in the cistern waters. Dunsdworth was not the Dreadful Deadman-“
Overall – 1, Poor
While The Queen’s Poisoner is well written and staged, it is just a hollow husk of a book. Built to sell, there is nothing redeemable within the words themselves, as the story has been told better by others, and this retelling adds nothing to it. It is the worst kind of fantasy, transporting a memorable story to an abysmal setting and calling it hard work. There are many other excellent works out there, with more originality and effort put into their crafting, go out there and find those, and leave this dribble to collect dust.
The Queen’s Poisoner is available on Amazon.