Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan

A perfect conclusion to a masterful trilogy.
Queen of Fire book cover

Book of the Year 2015 (see all)

One of the only issues I ever had with Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen was the required memory and knowledge a reader was supposed to bring into every book. This was not a complaint that affected my rating of a book, and for the most part had very little impact on my enjoyment of the book. However, from time to time, it was clear the author had written “a revelation”, but what it was or how it had come about was a complete mystery to me, based as it was on my having to remember three pieces of information from five separate books and put them all together seven books later.

Or something like that.

Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan, completes one of the better fantasy trilogies you’ll encounter. In many ways, Ryan writes in much the same way as Steven Erikson, leaving no character untouched by war and loss, and a seemingly joyous adherence to one of the prime lessons of fiction writing, “kill your darlings”. But as I read through this third and final book, it was quite clear the author intended for me to have re-read the previous two books immediately beforehand - and that’s just not something that I have the time for, or believe authors should force upon their readers.

Nevertheless, despite obviously missing out on some seemingly tantalising reveals that I suspect are supposed to have made things much clearer, I still loved Queen of Fire.

The vast majority of authors could learn a lot from Anthony Ryan on how to write characters in such a way as to make each and every one captivating. In many instances, multiple-perspective books only ever provide you with 75% worth of appealing characters, with the remaining 25% being eminently skipable. Either they make some characters too exciting and, therefore, by contrast everyone else is boring, or they simply run out of effort on the third or fourth point of view they write.

Anthony Ryan has none of these issues, and with continued writing is sure to go down as a master of weaving a story across multiple points of view. Vaelin, our primary protagonist, continues to wear the burden of leadership heavily, with a lot seeming to ride on his shoulders. Frentis and Reva both continue to be my favourite characters in this series, proving to be the real soul of the story. Alucius makes for a wonderful addition to the cast, and Verniers’ Accounts continue to be beautifully executed. In each of these cases, rooting for the current point of view is easy, replete with a wonderful history we’ve already encountered and a deep affection for the characters. Lyrna, on the other hand, proves possibly the most impressive chapters of all, for the simple fact that I supremely dislike her and her motivations, yet am utterly spellbound by how the author has managed to capture a soul so torn by bitterness without it becoming tropey or ridiculous.

The villains and companions of the story are equally impressive, and I continued to favour Frentis’ “beloved” over many of the good guys I was supposed to be rooting for - another proof of Ryan’s mastery of the craft.

The story comes to a climactic and heart wrenching close, and I think it quite safe to say nobody went home happy – of those who actually went home. Death was a common companion for all of our characters, and though the author treated it briefly, this only serves to further exemplify the stakes and the dangers of the world in which we temporarily inhabit.

Queen of Fire is a perfect conclusion to a masterful trilogy. The characters are second-to-none, and though the author requires a bit too much retained knowledge on the part of the reader, it is made up for by relegating such revelations to secondary status behind the lives and outcomes of these characters we have grown to love, admire, and hate.

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All reviews for Anthony Ryan's Raven's Shadow

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Queen of Fire reader reviews

from BE


Too long, for too little. A lot of illogical decision taken by the character. Vaelin becomes a secondary and pointless character in the story. in summary: a bad book.

from Nederland


Blood Song took me two days. Queen of Fire took me two weeks and still I hadn't finished it when I put it away. Its story could have been told in ten pages: the goodies defeat the baddies - end.

from Mussel


Compelling book, one of its kind. Was pretty hard to stop reading it and left me wainting more from this universe. Best world building and my recommended fantasy trilogy if you read Tolkien already.

from Brazil


Some authors has a good idea to write a book, and if this idea is quite simple, the author can easily write a beautiful and tantalizing story. In this case, I am talking about Blood Song...tower lord was a good one too. However tower lord change drastically the narrative. If in book the narrative centers in Vaelin, with some additional comments of Verniers. Tower lord introduces multiple narratives, with some convergence to Vaelin in Reva chapters. It is ok, but seems more pretentious and boring to me...This decision sparks to me a pretentious intentions to write in "high standards" and in all cases the result is mediocricy. Anthony Ryan Queen of Fire is a fine example of such twist in narrative structure with disgusting (yes disgusting) results...sadly when I start to read a book I never quit...Queen of fire put this behaviour of mine in check,and several times I was tempted to throw the book in a filthy toilet...I could not to find a toilet filth enough to fullfill my intentions...Certainly I will never waste my time with Anthony Ryan books again

from South Africa


Loves the first book, the second too was good. The third was absolutely disappointing. I also felt so much was left unexplained.

from Estonia


Blood Song was one of the best fantasy books I 've had the pleasure of reading. Tower Lord was good. Not as good by far as Blood Song was but well worth the 8/10. I did not even finish Queen of Fire. I get it that it is REALLY hard to write ending. Especially for fantasy books but this ? Unbelievable.

from United States



from USA


I, like everyone else, loved the first book and was just completely let down by the 2nd and 3rd. There were far too many characters and I found myself not even caring for about half of them. Super dissapointing.


Sorry, but this review couldn't be any further from the truth. This book kept dragging on pointlessly, and just kept adding useless 2 dimensional characters that nobody cares about. Everybody is perfect and awesome at what they do to the point that any sense of suspense just disappeared. 9.5, really now?

from Brazil


It seems that we won't be seeing the long lived characters from Anthony Ryan like those which populate the books of Robin Hobb and Daniel Abraham. Maybe that's a good thing. After all, Hobb is the rare writer with the gift of extending an epic adventure to a dozen books without skipping a beat. And so ends Ravens Shadow. Flawlessly? No, but the flaws noted by the reviewers who preceded me were nothing compared to joy of re-encountering those characters from whose point of view the story is told. The Queen Of Fire was indeed a bit independent of the others, with few reachbacks to brief those of who either never read the prior books or in whose memory they are dim. Anthony Ryan might be accused of subjecting his heroes to almost inhuman trials of fire so as to make them larger than life. But such is the stuff of heroic literature. Were Agamemnon, Achillus or Socrates mere, ordinary people? Joan of Arc? Anthony Ryan's characters are by no means cardboard or stick figures. Even the evil Empress has moments of regret and all sure have their faults. the multiple points of view did not disjoint the book in my opinion. Each POV took off where the other left off, more or less. But one thing did bother me. I found myself longing for less violent fantasy a la Hobb, Sean Russell, Ursula LeGuin and Patricia McKillip. At times I switched off from Queen Of Fire and read Hobb's new book Fool's Quest through before I returned to Queen Of Fire. I look forward to more work from Anthony Ryan.

from England


This conclusion to the trilogy is very disappointing. It basically took everything we loved from the first book in the series and threw it away. Half the book is pointless walking and talking and this is the first time in fact that medieval type combat has bored me. You knew they'd win and it was too easy, no strategy involved at all. The only reason it doesn't have a lower rating is because it gives some kind of closure to the amazing start to the series even though all my favourite characters were lifelines and made pointless (Vaelin) and the ending was very underwhelming.

from USA


Not only is this a terrible conclusion to the trilogy, it was just a really bad book. I can't believe that Anthony Ryan wrote this. Hardly anything is explained, and many of the story lines are not tied up. It was painful, but I kept reading this futilely hoping we would get at least something of a satisfying conclusion. We did not. I wish I would have listened to the Amazon reviews (2 of 5 stars average right now) and skipped this. If you're a fan of this series I would truly encourage you to skip this. It unbelievably adds more questions and loose ends than it actually ties up. The other shocking thing is that this site have it a 9.5 and actually gave it a higher score than Blood Song! That is blasphemy. This site's credibility just went from relatively high to zero. I won't be considering the reviews here anymore.

4.6/10 from 13 reviews

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