The Cracked Throne is the sequel to The Skewed Throne, Joshua Palmatier’s first published novel. In the Skewed Throne, Varis, a gutterscum teenager girl turned bodyguard ascends to the Skewed Throne. She can use a river of power that is enhanced by the White Fire she inherited six years earlier. Her aborted assassination attempt on the current Mistress of Amenkor results in her having to take on the role.
In The Cracked Throne, Varis must learn the new skills required to act as the Mistress of Amenkor (she who sits on the Skewed Throne) and to master the throne. The throne, fed by thousand of souls who have died fashioning it and dying for it, strengtens her own power but also puts her in danger of being overwhelmed by it. Apart from her long-time friend Erik, she cannot trust anyone, the city is threatened by famine, food is disappearing, and she has a vision of Amekor burning, the harbor red with blood. As she tries to grow into her role, Varis will learn much about who she is and what she needs to sacrifice to keep her city and its inhabitants safe.
Joshua Palmatier’s second book in the Throne trilogy has everything a reader of fantasy would want –a young heroine, magic, a vicious and cruel enemy– but his treatment of these elements is fresh and exciting. Contrary to the often two-dimensional characters of fantasy, Palmatier’s are rich, vividly sketched, real. The prose is sparse and effective, and takes us along to witness the growing pains of someone who has not been loved by Fate, but who has the courage to get the job done. He was able to mix perfectly several storylines that lead, in the end, to the same place: the Palace and the ultimate confrontation.
Only one caveat: although it is not necessary to read The Skewed Throne, I would recommend it, since it would be easier to understand Varis’s motivations and background.
All in all, an infinitely exciting, readable book.