I will miss the world Den Patrick has created.
The Girl on the Liar’s Throne is the conclusion to the Erebus Sequence, which began with The Boy with the Porcelain Blade and continued with The Boy who Wept Blood. What follows may hold spoilers for those two books, so please do not go further if you haven't yet read them.
At the end of The Boy who Wept Blood we were left with Stephania, once of House Prospero, escaping with her life to San Marino, as Anea the Silent Queen turned her back on her courtiers and her people, by undoing her plans to reshape Landfall as a republic. The events of that book were told from the perspective of Dino and things were not looking good for the citizens of Demesne and the surrounding town of Santa Maria. Due to this, I thought Stephania would be a major character in The Girl on the Liar's Throne, rallying the people to fight the Silent Queen and her army of Myrmidon soldiers. Instead, the first chapter of this new novel reveals that a plot was undertaken to remove Anea and replace her with an imposter named Eris. Anea, at an unspecified point in the previous novel, had been captured and thrown into the oubliette beneath Demesne.
As it is soon made clear, none of the circumstances that led to Dino's loneliness and, eventually, his death have been caused by the actions of Anea. This, unfortunately, made the events of this book feel more contrived, with The Boy who Wept Blood losing some of its poignancy. For me, this feels like there was less of an emotional impact for Anea as she learns of the events she missed when she was in the oubliette. There is also the larger issue that throughout the first two novels Anea was never as likeable as her brothers Dino and Lucien, whose stories were told in the previous books. Compared to the first two books, it never feels as if you are given a chance to get to know Anea as a character in her own right and it now feels jarring that you have to reacquaint yourself with a character you had been made to believe turned her back on those she cared about.
Den Patrick has made the imposter queen's actions so disagreeable that any redeeming features either Anea or Eris are given are immediately overshadowed by the events that came before. As the Girl on the Liar's Throne progresses, it doesn't become easier to empathise with them. Eris is shown as a vain, greedy girl who you should feel more pathos with especially as she is a pawn of Erebus. Whilst Anea is described as very intelligent, she does not seem to use her intelligence to formulate a strategy to accomplish her goals of retaking the throne and exposing the madness at the centre of Demesne. Instead she is impulsive, needing to take action whereas before she was always the character needing to be protected. The other characters constantly regard Anea and Eris as girls rather than women, which can be frustrating: because of this it is easy to forget that Anea, in the Boy who Wept Blood, was twenty-five.
The fantastical elements of this book are still as creepily disturbing as seen in the previous novels. With Erebus exposed for the monster he now is, he is slightly reminiscent of the King, yet in his own way can be seen as more twisted and disturbed than the King ever was. Erebus' machinations have shaped all three novels and here he is still the puppet master, as he figuratively pulls the strings to gain political domination. Erebus is the stuff of nightmares and he continues in his maniacal way to try and reshape the world in his own image.
In this novel, we are reunited with some familiar faces and some previously minor characters are given more prominence. Most of these secondary characters based in Demesne have always been about self-preservation, whilst also trying to gain power and influence. This was seen especially between the Houses, although most of these have now been decimated and abandoned. This does allow for different characters to come to the fore. Surprisingly, the character that was previously little more than an assassin, Marchetti, ends up being the one character I felt most sympathetic towards, as his story progresses. There are very few people who have not been ill-treated during this trilogy, as there have been wars and political assassinations.
There are quite a few points made during this review that can be seen to be more negative in comparison to the reviews for the other books in this trilogy, but this is due to the fact that this wasn't the story I was expecting. The plot twist of an imposter being able to fool everyone isn't particularly original and I felt disappointed. Once I had gotten over the fact that everything you believed from the previous books shouldn't be taken at face value, the story sweeps you along, through dark passages, where you never know who is watching you or if the person sent to protect you is actually your jailer. The book is nicely paced and allows you to see both Anea and Eris' points of view. At certain points in the novel their viewpoints run parallel to each other, as they both discover their limitations and loss of control. The Erebus Sequence has some very intriguing elements that really made this story: political intrigue, the Renaissance like setting and its mysterious darkness. I will miss the world Den Patrick has created, although out of the three books this one isn't my favourite.
Review by Michelle Herbert
6/10 from 1 reviews
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