Monday, October 4, 2021

The Usurper

The Usurper (The Seven Kingdoms #5)The Usurper by Cordelia Castel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The fifth book of Cordelia Castel’s Seven Kingdoms series opens where the last book left off, protagonist Rilla near an ice wall that she suspects the Snow Queen created, with the wall able to attack those who draw near. King Rhinoceros is sought for interrogation, and Rilla finds herself under arrest, although the Ogre Senate can overrule her captivity. As an airship flies over the Cursed Sea, the wall of ice attacks, and there arises the dilemma of getting through the Seven Kingdoms undetected. When they reach one of the countries, Vern, its king wishes his daughter purged of a curse in exchange for passage.

Foreign magic is detected within Rilla, and she herself fears the power, with some training in the use of her enchanted staff. The King of Autumn’s death is plotted, and a fairy mine is sought, as well, with the dilemma on how to seal it. The book reveals that a kiss between Lord Bluebeard and Rilla can offset the foreign power within the latter, and the last few chapters deal with the conflict against the Snow Queen, who yearns to marry Prince Grost so that she can rule as consort once he accedes to the throne.

Like its precursors, the fifth installment ends with a cliffhanger involving a hypothesis of who orchestrated an attack that occurs at the end. However, this particular entry of the series is one of the weaker ones, given occasional confusion about the various characters to whom pronouns refer, given the distance between their names and how the book references them, although the action is definitely decent and well-described. Given its solid connection to previous and future books, a reminder on the plots of its predecessors would have been welcome, and the book overall is hardly bucket list-worthy.

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