queen's starfire throne coverRatings: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

 

The Queen’s Starfire Throne is the third book in Hailey Turner’s epic steampunk fantasy trilogy, the Infernal War Saga. The books must be read in order, and this book and review will have spoilers for earlier events in the series. If you want to get started with this fabulous trilogy, check out Jay and Kris’ spoiler-free review of the first book, The Prince’s Poisoned Vow.

The Solarian palace has been destroyed and the truth about their failure to properly secure their dead has been revealed. But even worse for Vanya than the sanctions and the upheaval of relocating is that he learned Soren had been lying about being able to wield starfire. It has caused a rift between the men and Vanya is still angry, but he also is missing Soren desperately. For his part, Soren has returned to Warden’s Island, but it is becoming clear that his time as a warden is over. Wardens can hold allegiance to no country and the truth is out that he is the missing Rourke prince. Soren wants no part of ruling, however, but he still must do his duty to support Caris in the war effort.

Eimarille Rourke has continued her relentless attempts at taking the throne of Maricol, leaving destruction in her wake. She is willing to do whatever it takes to ascend the throne, no matter how many lives are taken or risked. Eimarille seems to have the upper hand in the war, with Ashion struggling to find support from the other Maricol nations. But Caris is determined to stop her sister and bring peace back to the country. However, finding allies isn’t easy and if Ashion goes down, Caris knows the rest of Maricol is soon to follow.

The fight isn’t one that Caris can win alone. Fortunately, she may have more support than she realized. It is going to take all their combined strength to find a way to stop Eimarille’s war machine, bring peace to Maricol, and put a new queen on the throne.

Jay’s Review

I have been so eagerly awaiting this final installment in Hailey Turner’s fabulous Infernal Wars Saga. This series is just epic, combining multiple storylines, great fantasy and steampunk world building, and a complex and well developed plot. The series follows the same group of characters throughout all three books and we have a chance to really get connected to their stories over the course of the trilogy.

This one opens in the aftermath of the intense events at the end of The Emperor’s Bone Palace. The early portion of the book is mostly focused on getting us caught up with what is going on and checking in with all the characters. Turner sort of goes through folks a group at a time, which I think helps to catch readers up in a manageable way, as this is a huge cast with lots of moving parts. It does mean that it takes a while to get to some of my favorites (I’m looking at you Soren and Vanya), but I think Turner is smart to not try to dump all the information at once. That said, there is a lot of set up here for the story and I found it takes a while to really get into the meat of it all. As with the others in the series, this is a super long book (over 650 pages) and so it felt a little slow to start for me. After the intensity of book 2, I was ready to get to the action a little faster, especially as it seems a lot of the early portion is just people coming and going.

Whereas the first two books leaned a little more heavily into the fantasy/steampunk world building and some of the politics, this story is mostly focused on the war. Ashion starts off sort of isolated, finding few allies among the other countries, but that changes as Eimarille continues her path of destruction. So while we have had overlap in the various plot threads, this book really brings the storylines and the characters all together working toward the same goal. Turner is so good at choreographing huge and complex battle storylines (see the excellent Soulbound series), and that carries through here as well. In lesser hands, things could have felt confusing or jumbled, but I was able to easily follow along with everything that was happening. There are some intense moments, some devastating losses (and some that made me cheer), and it all comes together in the end really well. We get an epilogue of sorts that fills us in on the lives of the characters and I’ll admit to choking up a bit. The story has a great resolution and it all ties up nicely. That said, I do think the pacing sometimes slows and there are places where the long story could be tightened up.

This series is a fantasy first, but the relationships, both romantic and otherwise, have always been very important. Vanya and Soren continue to be my favorite and their journey has always felt at the heart of the series to me. I wanted more time with them, as the men are kept apart quite a bit, but I loved how things come together for them. I also wished for more time with Blaine and Honovi. Most of their struggles came in the last book and I was glad to see them happy together here, but I did wish for a little more focus on the pair. I also appreciate the complexity Turner gives to Eimarille in terms of her love for her son and her partner, the Blade Terilyn. Eimarille is unquestionably awful, doing horrific things in her quest for the throne. It would be easy to make her a one-note villain, but Turner showcases the deep emotion she has for those she loves and it adds some nice nuance to the character.

Overall, I found this a really nice ending to what has been a fabulous series. It is so rich and well developed, with really engaging characters. I am sad to see it come to a close, but happy with how the story resolves.

Kris’ Review

The Queen’s Starfire Throne is the much-anticipated finale to the Infernal Wars trilogy. It’s a high fantasy story with a steampunk twist. It has complex world building, multiple characters and POVs, and intertwined plotlines that culminate in a truly satisfying ending. But it is an epic undertaking, and a very long book, at over 600 pages.

For me, I found the pacing to be a bit off with this book, as it wasn’t in the others. The beginning of the book was weighed down with a lot of explanation and plotting of war that I felt could have been condensed. Though there was some action, it wasn’t as intense as I expected it to be in the early pages, and I didn’t feel the pressing drive of plot for the first portion of the book. There were also points in the story when time jumps made me feel like I was missing something. So in that regard, the pacing didn’t always work as well for me. I was looking for higher stakes right off the bat, more action to drive the plot, and I found it dragging just a bit as I waited for things to really get going.

And get going they did, with Soren stepping up and back with Vanya, with Caris really stepping into her role, and with Eimarille stopping at nothing to get what she wanted. Things really heated up with the death and destruction. The action became intense, the emotions grew to match, and the anticipation of the final confrontation sang through the pages. Turner does an excellent job of building the tension the closer the protagonists get to the end. There is death and violence, but there can be nothing less. Even for some beloved characters. But the major MCs persevere.

In this story, the lines between right and wrong become a little clearer. The stakes are higher, for sure, but the “bad” guys become worse and the “good” guys become more righteous. This worked well for the story, as it was leading toward the survival of Maricol. The atrocities on page are indeed horrific, but those working against it will not stop until they are successful.

I mentioned the ending was satisfying, and it was everything I wanted from this story. Not only the outcomes for my favorite characters, but for the story as a whole. Really, it could only end one way, and the author leads us there step by step. As a bonus, there’s an epilogue that shows glimpses of the far future, so we know it was all worth it in the end.

This is, as I said, a fantasy of epic proportions, with magic and steampunk. The world building is amazing here, the characters complex and well-drawn, and though I have minor issues with the length and think some parts could be tightened up, this series is an easy recommendation if you’re a fan of this genre.

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