The Girl on the Liar’s Throne by Den Patrick
Please note – The Girl on the Liar’s Throne is the third book in The Erebus Sequence and it is likely that if haven’t read the first two then this review may contain minor spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you in advance.
Anea, once the Silent Queen of Landfall, find herself imprisoned in the dark waters far beneath the vast castle of Demesne. Her throne, like her memories, have have been stolen. Eris, the impostor, discovers even the semblance of ruling is a lonely business in a place as corrupt as the Ravenscourt. Her rule, like her appearance, is a sham.
They are a world apart but entangled in a web of subtle deceit, old secrets and dark ambitions.
As an ancient enemy plots his rise, old alliances must be laid aside and new friendships formed. Can the Silent Queen regain her throne? Will Eris break free of her prison of lies? Can the kingdom escape the ruin that civil war will bring?
It seems as though all the series I’ve started over the last couple of years are coming to an end at the same time. Earlier this month there was Judged by Liz de Jager, the final book in The Blackhart Legacy, and next month we have The Silver Tide by Jen Williams, the last part of The Copper Cat trilogy, will be upon us. Before that however, we have the latest from Den Patrick, The Girl on The Liar’s Throne.
At the heart of each novel in this series, Den Patrick has focussed his attentions on a different orfano (orphan). Book one, The Boy With The Porcelain Blade, was very much Lucien’s story. Book two, The Boy Who Wept Blood, saw attention shift onto Dino (I’m still pained by how that book ended), while book three brings Anea to the forefront.
Anea, the Silent Queen, has changed quite considerably over the course of her journey. From a relative innocent, she has metamorphosed into shrewd political operator. Each new day as the reigning monarch has brought new challenges that Anea has been forced to try and overcome. She remains steadfast to her convictions throughout. She realised that the society in Landfall was broken and could only be fixed with a series of fundamental changes. Needless to say, there were those who were more than happy with the status quo. They were prepared to do anything they could to stop her implementing her new policies, including usurping her crown. Through all this upheaval Anea remains resolute. As her grip on the throne slips further and further away, rather than giving in, she gets back up, dusts herself off and goes on the offensive. There are are some brilliant scenes where she grabs the initiative that made me want to cheer out loud. With a combination of her growing skill, grim determination and yes, even occasionally pure dumb luck, she continually manages to outwit those around her. Just as well, most of them are an entirely loathsome bunch.
The highlight of this novel for me has been the constantly shifting allegiances that the author has created. In Landfall, the factions within the noble class are in a constant state of flux, they rise and fall only to rise again. Witnessing that ebb and flow, and how various characters are forced to adapt to an often sudden seismic shift in their status is great fun. Patrick also manages to be pretty sneaky in this regard. He does a fine job of tugging at the reader’s emotional heartstrings. People’s motivations are as fluid and fragile as the alliances and there are some nice revelations that turn pivotal scenes squarely on their head. I always enjoy when an author pulls these sorts of complex plot acrobatics off and manage to make it look easy.
I’m glad to say the moment I had been hoping for finally arrived. Erebus, the enigmatic mastermind behind all of the scheming in Landfall is revealed in all of his hideous glory. Powerbroker, puppet master and manipulator extraordinaire, he has been hiding in the shadows for far too long. I’ve so enjoyed his Machiavellian wheeler dealing.
With plenty of action, a plethora of intrigue and more verbal and physical sparring than you could shake a big pointy stick at, the resolution to this trilogy has been great fun. At first glance there is an evocative decadence to the world that Den Patrick has created. Everything looks positively opulent, perhaps even a little over the top, but when you dig a little deeper you realise that there is a rot eating away at this society. There is a corruption consuming all from within. It’s always impressive when world building is so well established, carefully planned out and can offer such insight.
There is part of me that hopes that it won’t be too long before the nobility of Landfall will be up to their old tricks again. There will be more schemes, more plots and counterplots. It feels like many of the characters relish the thrill of political cat and mouse far too much. Peace might be the ultimate goal for some but for others scrabbling to gain power is too enticing to resist.
The Girl on The Liar’s Throne is published by Gollancz and is available now. Highly recommended. Do yourself a favour though, if you haven’t read books one and two I urge you to do that first. Though the individual books are splendid, this series is undoubtedly best enjoyed as a whole.