The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence (Red Queen's War #3)

The Wheel of Osheim was the only book I could have possibly read next following on from the ultimate cliffhanger at the conclusion of the previous story. So, apologies to other authors whose books I have still to review but I simply had to find out what events would follow the prior outing and also, to see how The Red Queen's war against a mirror floating mage lady concluded. In addition, to review how the two ladies movements of the pieces on the world's chess game would lead to a culmination and how the developments would affect The Broken Empire.

I was surprised by how The Wheel Of Osheim threw us into the action and the way it started. I expected to find our companions traipsing through the netherworlds. Instead, we are reintroduced back into the mind of Jalan in his world as he falls out of a desert's sky being pursued viciously by a succubus. His self-centered self-interest, his immense luck, and his personally misunderstood bravery lead him through this dilemma and he finds himself trekking across these heated wastelands with an entourage of important occupiers of the local city. This left me slightly confused. What happened in Hell? Where is Snorri?

This leads to the narrative being split into two distinct proportions. The modern day Jalan adventures and also after about ten percent into the book we begin to taste the precisely placed flashback sections that carry on throughout the majority of the tale, into the adventures that took place in Hel/Hell. The pacing and placements between the two sections are exquisite and although I was surprised by the way the story commenced, it works wonders in fitting the puzzle together as both of the storylines progress. The flashbacks themselves are told in two different ways. The scenes in Hell are despondent and thrilling. These segments had an epic feel to them as the characters traversed through unspeakable horrors in the barren inexistence as Aeneas and Odysseus had walked through similarly composed chaos in their times. The history researched by Mark Lawrence in creating this world including religions, mythology, military factions etc... needs to be acknowledged and appreciated.

The current day happenings see Jalan sharing drinks with some dude named Jorg, Jalan acting as a Marshall for the Red Queen during an intense siege scene and in addition, highlights certain confrontations that are computer game boss battle-esque. The highly intricate action sequences made me feel like I was playing The Legend of Zelda because I could picture the action, environment, and the involved characters pending difficulties so clearly. Some of the composed battles are huge and certain revelations / plot progression made it so I couldn't take my eyes from the pages. At the start, with how #3 began, for some reason, I thought this tale would be quite linear but I couldn't have been more wrong. A huge amount of the World's map is covered again and such a great amount of action takes place that I could probably write a 5,000-word review yet, this would include spoilers, notes about emotions and characters destinies / outcomes. I could have extended what I have written here, however; because I don't want to reveal the direction the story takes, which of the players are involved, which enemies cross paths, what the results of characters ultimate goals are or what happens to this world that is, unfortunately; speeding out of control due to the magic being used. There is a larger science fiction influence in this segment of the trilogy, with the destruction of the world looming due to the mechanics of the empire. Although I would love to talk about what characters turn up here, I will not, because that is where a lot of my enjoyment came from so I don't want to take that experience away from others. I thought that all the threads tied themselves up nicely. I loved reading this trilogy and believe a TV series combining the actions of The Red Queen's War and The Broken Empire which could run concurrently would be exceptional. The mind in these books is perhaps the most powerful, but also, the most dangerous weapon. Mark Lawrence's work is excellent. The Game of Thrones comparisons are there due to both being complex, character-driven narratives within a medieval-like fantasy world but I prefer this trilogy to A Song of Ice and Fire, and it is concluded! Absolutely stunning book and series.
James Tivendale, 9.7/10

The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence is the third and final book in The Red Queen's War trilogy, a superior conclusion to one of the best trilogies I have read. The Wheel of Osheim is the best book I've read this year, maybe the best book I've read for a few years, and I cannot recommend this trilogy highly enough.

The story picks up some time after the events of The Liar's Key, with a half naked Prince Jalan Kendeth falling from the sky and landing in the middle of the Sahar desert, a demonic succubus hot on his heels. After dealing with the succubus with his usual mix of false bravado and luck, Jal finds himself in the company of nomads and begins his journey back home to Vermillion. The world continues to fall apart, armies of the dead are attacking cities, the Red Queen marches on the Lady Blue, and the Wheel of Osheim is spinning faster and faster.

If there is one theme that characterises this book, it is redemption. Jal has been a reluctant hero from the start of the first book, always the first one to make the selfish choice, and while he never evolves into a heroic champion for what is right, he has come to appreciate people who aren't named Jalan and begins to feel a personal obligation to do right by them. I felt through the first two books that Jal would be a dangerous person if only he would harness his power and aim it in the right direction, and after a "chance meeting" with a young king named Jorg we finally get to see a pro-active Jal, unafraid to ruffle a few feathers and willing to make up words with ruthless actions. He has grown from a pain in the arse to a character I admire.

The Wheel of Osheim is definitely Jal's book, with Snorri and the Red Queen providing excellent support when required and shining when their moments arrive. At times I wished there was more Snorri in the books, but looking back I can see that Lawrence gives us just the right amount of Snorri, enough to resolve all of his important story threads with an appropriate amount of axe swinging. Same goes for the Red Queen herself. I get the feeling that this book could have been twice the length, and while I would happily read another 500+ pages of Jal and Snorri, I was glad that Lawrence keep this book on track with minimal fuss.

It's hard to write a review that justifies a perfect rating without giving away all of the awesome moments that earn this book the perfect rating. This book has everything - magic and sci-fi, humour and horror, truths and lies, and then some more lies. There is no unnecessary obfuscation of secrets within secrets behind secrets - the Red Queen's war is a rather transparent war that creates drama by putting characters in situations with many viable solutions, and not knowing which one the characters are going to pick. This trilogy is essential reading for all fantasy readers.
Ryan Lawler, 10/10

10/10 This book has everything - magic and sci-fi, humour and horror, truths and lies, and then some more

Reviews by and Ryan Lawler

1 positive reader review(s) for The Wheel of Osheim

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from Australia

Well that was a most exciting, satisfying and engaging read - I dreaded finishing and even put the book down at the second to last page, just so I could delay the ending a little longer. It was so fabulous to be swept away with the incorrigible Jal and the steadfast and tragic Snorri - not to mention the sly and capable Kara and little Hennan was brave and true. I could read these books forever - the world building, the complexity of the story and the characters and the jumping around through time and place, the humour, the sadness, the adventure - just brilliant! I laughed and cried and was constantly surprised by the twists and turns. The only minor quibble I have is the extended fight and chase scenes, but they really didn't detract from this enthralling story. What to read next? The only trouble with reading such a great series is it make other books pale in comparison. Bravo!
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10/10 from 2 reviews

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