3 Bells with Tidings from the Crew – the king’s traitor (Jeff Wheeler) Book 3

3 bells

Ahoy me mateys!  Grab your grog!  Here is the conclusion, book 3, of the fifth installment of the 3 Bells trilogy showcase.  The bonus of this installment is that though the first mate and I have very different reading tastes, occasionally we do overlap in our reading choices.  When I  found out he had read this series, I commandeered his reviews!  So you get one from me and a bonus additional review from me crew.  Please note that I write like I talk and the first mate writes like he thinks.  Hope ye enjoy!

From The Captain:

This novel is the third in Kingfountain series and follows day one’s review of the queen’s poisoner and day two’s the thief’s daughter, .  A third stunning cover:

Seriously, the cover designs are just wonderful.  Unfortunately for me, this book was the weakest of the lot.  To be fair, the reading was still highly enjoyable and fast paced but did not float me boat as much as the other two did.

Basically, this novel had what to me were gaping plot holes.  Our bad king does not get what he deserves.  For all of the strong women in the series, one of the female characters in this book has an ending that is a travesty to all women ever in her situation.  The ending had a rather bad deus ex machina feeling where the individual character choices up to that point were almost inconsequential.  Mostly the feeling was just “huh?”

Now this could be due to the fact that I found out this trilogy in fact continues through the next generation of children.  So perhaps it is just the future set up for the remainder of the series.  But as this was, for me Owen’s trilogy, the ending was lackluster and a little annoying.

Basically finished this series with the ending of Owen’s story and will not continue any further.  But I do not regret reading these novels and they were quick and fast-paced one day reads.  Despite the plot failings, I do actually like a lot of the author’s writing style and would be interested to read the first book of his Muirwood series.  I will have to see if any of me fellow bloggers have opinions of that one.  So I consider this 3 Bells installment a success!

x The Captain

From The First Mate:

It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I started reading “The King’s Traitor” in that Wheeler had made it perfectly clear where he intended to take the story and also that he lacked the plotting abilities to take the story there in a realistic manner.  The question, therefore, would there be enough entertaining non-central elements to keep my interest as we made the all-but-certain-to-be-bumpy path to the conclusion?  Alas, no.

For the third time we have Owen run into an age-appropriate woman who falls madly in love with him, regardless of his objections.  For the third time, Owen’s opponents fall into his plans as though reality itself were warping to meet his needs.  Our Richard III analogue devolves from character to caricature; at one point, the method by which he chooses to dispatch someone has more in common with a plan by Dr. Evil of the Austin Powers films than with any actual attempt at killing someone.  Baddies from the past pop up, but they are dealt with so quickly and so far removed from the central conflict as to offer up practically no menace.

My central complaint of the first book was that Wheeler had a specific plot that he wanted to take the story in and he was going to tell that particular story whether it logically fit or not.  Unfortunately the second and third novels showed that he did not see such a choice to be problematic.  Indeed, the resolution of the conflicts in the third novel occurs almost entirely without logic.  The fate of our Richard III analogue is utterly baffling.  And the final scene lead this poor unfortunate soul to groan, “he’s gonna ruin that legend too?”

“The King’s Traitor” is the only novel of this series that I can say that I actually disliked.  I had quibbles with plot elements of “The Queen’s Poisoner,” but loved many of the characters and overall very much enjoyed reading it.  “The Thief’s Daughter” was a weaker book  but still had much to recommend about it.  This one?  Well, I’m not sorry I read it, but Wheeler and I shall part ways here.

Now normally I would post a summary of the novel here.  But as this is the third book in the series where the summaries online basically tell the plot, I am skipping the summary so you can find out what happens for yerself . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jeff Wheeler – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the king’s traitor – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

3 Bells with Tidings from the Crew – the thief’s daughter (Jeff Wheeler) Book 2

3 bells

Ahoy me mateys!  Grab your grog!  Here is book 2 of the fifth installment of the 3 Bells trilogy showcase.  The bonus of this installment is that though the first mate and I have very different reading tastes, occasionally we do overlap in our reading choices.  When I  found out he had read this series, I commandeered his reviews!  So you get one from me and a bonus additional review from me crew.  Please note that I write like I talk and the first mate writes like he thinks.  Hope ye enjoy!

From The Captain:

This novel is the second in Kingfountain series and follows yesterday’s review of the queen’s poisoner.  Another stunning cover:.

 

And another stunning engrossing read.  This one flew by almost as fast as the first.  This novel takes place nine years after the events in book one.  Owen is on the eve of commanding his very first battle.  Even though it does make some logical sense to skip some of the childhood events, I was startled by such a jump.  I had wanted to see more of Evie and Owen as children!  Nope.  Owen has gone from 9 to 17 years old.

Owen has dreams and ambitions regarding his friend and love Evie.  The King has other ideas regarding the use of his two loyal subjects.  As Goodreads puts it, “Will Owen’s conflicted heart follow the king’s path or risk everything for his love?”

This book was not as upbeat as the first novel and is much darker.  Owen is struggling in his role as Duke and being a leader of men.  This story basically centers around Owen’s pain and ambition.  Every choice seems to have negative consequences and Owen suffers.

And oh the ending . . . it pissed me off.  I have to admit I was mad at the author.  How could he?  Grrrrr!  But I still enjoyed the book and wanted to dash into reading book 3.

From The First Mate:

That little flaw in the first book that was not significant enough to ruin my enjoyment of it?  Yeah, that flaw becomes a major problem in the second book.

Movies and books about geniuses are typically problematic for one fairly mundane reason: the writer is rarely a genius.  We learned in “The Queen’s Poisoner” that the magic in this world (i.e., being “Fountain Blessed”) confers on one great abilities.  Our Richard III analogue has the ability to be extremely persuasive with his words, another character is able to influence through writing, and we’re told that a very rare magic is being able to see the future.  All abilities that are fairly straightforward. 

Unfortunately, Owen’s magic is the ability to find weaknesses and formulate strategy.  The finding weakness part is actually kinda fascinating; Owen is able to psychically reach out and probe people and find out if they’ve got a trick left knee or a balance issue because of water in their ear or, presumably, if they’ll dissolve in a fit of giggles with the right joke. It’s an extremely useful skill in a fantasy world, and we get to see numerous quality uses of it. It’s the strategy part that leaves something to be desired.

Owen uses his magical strategy abilities three times in the novel and each occasion left me wanting to believe that his magical ability was more of the “manipulating reality” variety.  That somehow his magic worked by altering the world so that regardless of what boneheaded stratagem he settled upon would lead to his desired outcome.  But, no.  Schemes that make no sense whatsoever lead to Owen’s opponents blindly walking into his traps.

Does it cripple the book?  It didn’t for me.  I still found a lot to like in the characters (Evie becomes very kick-ass, and the Thief’s Daughter is a wonderful addition to the cast) and the further expansion of the magic ideas of the world.  The Joan of Arc references were a particular source of amusement.  Ultimately, though, where one comes down on this book is going to rest on how willing one is to overlook the flaws of plotting that are, unfortunately, central to the book and the main character.  If, like me, you’re willing to find joys in the minor characters and the world, the book will be a fun diversion, albeit less fun than the first book.
____________________________

So me mateys, stay tuned for the conclusion to the 3 Bells trilogy tomorrow . . . .

Now normally I would post a summary of the novel here.  But as this is a sequel where the summaries online basically tell the plot, I am skipping the summary so you can find out what happens for yourself . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jeff Wheeler – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the thief’s daughter – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

3 Bells with Tidings from the Crew – the queen’s poisoner (Jeff Wheeler) Book 1

3 bells

Ahoy me mateys!  Grab your grog!  Here is book 1 of the fifth installment of the 3 Bells trilogy showcase.  The bonus of this installment is that though the first mate and I have very different reading tastes, occasionally we do overlap in our reading choices.  When I  found out he had read this series, I commandeered his reviews!  So you get one from me and a bonus additional review from me crew.  Please note that I write like I talk and the first mate writes like he thinks.  Hope you enjoy!

From The Captain:

This novel is the first in Kingfountain series.  The title of the book is what originally drew me attention.  Who and what does the queen’s poisoner do? (besides poison people of course!)  Then the book has a pretty cover:

Then I read the blurb.  An evil king.  An eight year old hostage.  Magic.  An assassin.  Hooray!  Me kind of book.  Then I started reading it.  Apparently the history of the kingdom is loosely based on The War of the Roses and the king in Richard III.  It’s sort of like what would have happened had Henry Tudor lost.  Having studied Richard III in depth during me Shakespearean theatre history class, I became engrossed!  I finished this book in one sitting and was completely lost in the story.

No joke, I absolutely adored this book.  I do not however feel that ye need to know anything about Richard III or English battle history to enjoy this novel.

For one, I pretty much thought the characterization in this novel was fantastic.  The main character of Owen is just plain wonderful.  He is a precocious eight-year-old whose relationships in the story are at its heart.  His relationship with the Queen’s poisoner is one highlight.  His relationship with his best friend Evie is another.

Side note:  Can I just say that Evie is frickin’ awesome.  I was kinda in awe of her.  She is only eight in the novel and yet is already strong in her own way.  Can’t wait to see how she grows in the series.  This book was full of strong intelligent women.  Hooray for that!

Secondly. the magic system.  The book doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of it in this first book but enough clues are in it to intrigue me and make me want more.  In fact the magic system seems to be highly involved in the myths and social mores of the culture.  It has a medieval feel to it and yet seems it is  its own thing at the same time.

Thirdly, the politics.  While Owen is the focus of the story, I rather enjoyed the politics and machinations of the adults.  It did not get in the way of Owen’s story but helped enrich it and the world building.  Who doesn’t like plotting and secret societies?

Lastly, the plot.  Of course I cannot get into this in detail without spoilin’ things but I thought how the story unfolded was fantastic.  There were plot twists that entertained me, some that surprised me, and some that made me sad in a good way.

Basically I loved this book so very much that I immediately downloaded two and three.  Very happy to have discovered this new author.  Off to read book 2 . . .

From The First Mate:

When the Captain finished “The Queen’s Poisoner” she smiled and said, “Now, that was just what I needed.”  She’d said that it was a well-told retelling of the Richard III story with magic.  I was intrigued, but she said that I wouldn’t like it because the main characters were children.  So, I shrugged, went back to my Murakami, and thought no more about it.  That is, until the Captain finished the second book and was absolutely livid about the direction in which it had gone.  And so, yes, I was well and truly interested.  I hadn’t seen a reaction like that since “A Wise Man’s Fear.”

With a bit of trepidation, I dove into “The Queen’s Poisoner” and found it to be simply delightful.  The children, Owen and Evie, are thankfully of the Shakespearean variety (i.e., adults with short legs) and thus their age poses no real impediment to their ability to influence the plot. Several of the characters are well drawn (the eponymous Queen’s Poisoner and the Richard III analogue especially) while others are straight out of central casting (there’s a spymaster and his name is, essentially, Dick Rat).  The writing is clear and largely invisible, which is, honestly, a welcome attribute in a high fantasy novel.  And I rather enjoyed the merging of religion and magic in the world.

If the book has one significant flaw, though, it’s that Wheeler had both a particular plot and several specific scenes in mind and he was going to put them into the novel whether they made any logical sense or not.  One particular howler requires a character who is so paranoid that he has children test his food for poison to leave a secret passage to his bedroom completely unguarded.  The circumstances in which we learn about this unguarded secret passage made me pause for quite some time to ponder other ways that scene could’ve played out without making the characters look like imbeciles.  I stopped coming up with alternate scenarios at nine.

That particular flaw aside, the book and the world are really quite fun.  A lot of fantasy novels in recent years have hewn to the fairly popular grim dark conventions, and this yarn is a welcome change from that.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s a Disneyfied high fantasy, but there’s rarely a moment in the novel where I worried for the life and limb of our main character.  If you’re looking for grit, you won’t find it here.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.

Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. But when new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor by proving his worth—through extraordinary means. And only one person can aid his desperate cause: a mysterious woman, dwelling in secrecy, who truly wields power over life, death, and destiny.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jeff Wheeler – Author

To buy the novel visit:

the queen’s poisoner – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List