Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #4.5)
Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard is an enjoyable collection of novellas and short stories that enrich the history and fallout of the events within the Red Queen series. Was it necessary? Absolutely not. But I enjoyed reading the collection anyway.
Previously, I recapped and reviewed the other books in the Red Queen series. Definitely go back and check those out if you haven’t already.
What stories are in Broken Throne?
- Queen Song (Red Queen #0.1)
- Steel Scars (Red Queen #0.2)
- World Behind (my guess: Red Queen #3.5)
- Iron Heart (my guess: Red Queen #4.1)
- Fire Light (my guess: Red Queen #4.2)
- Fare Well (my guess: Red Queen #4.5)
Queen Song and Steel Scars are actually the two novellas previously published in the collection Cruel Crown. Unless your hobby is to collect every publication related to a series, getting the Broken Throne collection will gain you all short stories and novellas in the Red Queen story. I will say: the maps and journal entries and all the bonuses included in Broken Throne are so, so beautiful. In my opinion, they’re worth the purchase if you’re a fan. I’ve included different shots throughout this post.
Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard summary (spoilers!)
I’ll go into each story separately. But first, I want to talk about the biggest finding. The book begins with an entry by Julian Jacos. If you remember, Julian is a historian of sorts, he obsesses over the history of Norta and the civilizations that came before the emergence of silverbloods and newbloods.
We learn the lost civilization he researches is actually our own. Red Queen takes place a long time after the world as we presently know it has ended due to what Red Queen calls the Calamities. The Calamities meaning climate change and other global crises. In reading Julian’s entries, it would seem the events of Red Queen are hundreds and hundreds of years later.
To make things more interesting, we find out Norta is basically the northeastern United States. Archeon is NYC. Harbor Bay is Boston. The Lakelanders control the Great Lakes region. Texas is called Tiraxes. And the stunning mountains Montfort calls home? The Rockies. You could study the maps forever, revisiting the books to get a sense of where different plot points took place.
I am married to a prince who will one day be a king. Usually this is where the fairy tale ends. Stories don’t go much further than this moment, and I fear there’s a good reason for it. A sense of dread hung over today, a black cloud I still can’t be rid of. It is an unease deep in the heart of me, feeding off my strength. Or perhaps I am coming down with sickness. It’s entirely possible. Sara will know. I keep dreaming of her eyes. Elara’s. Is it possible—could she be sending me these nightmares? Can whispers do such a thing? I must know. I must. I must. I MUST.
Queen Song summary
Queen Song tells the rise and fall of Coriane as the first queen of Tiberias the Sixth’s Norta. We always knew her suicide was actually murder committed by Elara Merandus, but what makes her story special is that we see how her love and marriage to Tibe came to be, how Elara handled it, the heartbreaking miscarriages Coriane experienced by the hand of Elara, and finally, the birth of Cal.
We also see glimpses into a young Julian Jacos and Sara Skonos, and why they weren’t able to stop what happened to Coriane based on other events happening.
One thing I wondered about was the strength of Elara’s ability. There’s a scene where Coriane uses her singer ability to corner Elara and question her on whether she’s been sending her nightmares and f*cking with her mind. Elara, glaze-eyed, denies it. Obviously, Elara was lying.
Perhaps her power was so far beyond Coriane’s singer ability that she wasn’t affected by it. But I do think Coriane’s courage and boldness to confront Elara is what pushed things to the next level and ultimately ended with her death. Then again, maybe she was always destined to die at Elara’s hand in the evil woman’s sick obsession to gain the crown.
Steel Scars summary
It took me a tad bit longer to get into Steel Scars than the other stories. But I think it’s only because the coded Scarlet Guard messages were a bit clunky to read. Once I got used to them, it was easy and I really enjoyed the novella. In fact, some of the most important pieces of information in the Red Queen series are relayed via those coded messages.
Steel Scars shared the rise of Diana Farley as a formidable SG operative and gave more color to her relationship with her father. And for those who loved Shade Barrow, there are some nice scenes between him and Farley. How they met, how they got romantically involved—that sort of thing. Their relationship in the main books seemed to materialize out of nowhere. So this story did a great job of providing details on how special they were in each other’s eyes. My heart still breaks for Shade’s death and knowing he never meets his daughter.
World Behind summary
World Behind was the strangest story in Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard. It was about a runaway Piedmont silverblood princess, Lyrisa, and a Red riverboat captain named Ashe. Ashe makes his living smuggling refugees and illegal goods. And he hates Silvers. That doesn’t stop him from accepting a pretty penny to ferry the princess downriver to the Great Sea.
I say World Behind is the strangest because there’s no clear reason why Aveyard included it in the collection. Where the other stories are about main characters or important side characters, World Behind introduces two people not mentioned anywhere else in the series. So they’re not even side characters. Lyrisa is a distant relative of the Piedmont king, and betrothed to a cousin of the Lakelander queen. And Ashe is Lyrisa’s love interest.
I think what this story does accomplish is it equalizes each of the Red and Silver stances. Reds are just as prejudiced as Silvers, and just because someone is Silver doesn’t mean their life is all rainbows and butterflies. We also see how different groups perceived Mare’s imprisonment to Maven. Lyrisa corrects Ashe by telling him Maven forced Mare to publicly support him. Whereas Ashe had believed she was a deserter.
World Behind also enriches the world of Red Queen itself. For example, we hear new cities like Memphia and Mizoura. Fourskulls (Mt. Rushmore). You can flip through this part of Broken Throne to view different maps and read Julian’s notes.
Iron Heart summary
Iron Heart is from the perspectives of Evangeline Samos and Elane Haven. Their scenes take place following the events of War Storm. With Evangeline and Ptolemus’s father dead (Julian and Anabel’s deal with the Lakelanders), the kingdom of the Rift goes to Ptolemus. But as Evangeline and Ptolemus have agreed, neither wish to become king or queen. So they will dissolve the Rift into a republic like Montfort.
This story is about Carmadon and Elane and Ptolemus trying to convince Evangeline into accompanying Ptolemus to the Rift to publicly abdicate the throne in-person. Evangeline doesn’t want to go because that would mean facing her mother, the Viper queen Larentia.
But she eventually goes. After a confrontation with Larentia where the woman tells Evangeline, “I wash my hands of you both. My children are dead.” Evangeline replies, “Then stop chasing ghosts.” Ouch.
With closure, Evangeline returns to Montfort where she can now build a new life and a new home with Elane.
Fire Light summary
Fire Light is told from Mare and Cal’s perspectives. It’s approximately two months after War Storm, and Mare is finally leaving Paradise Valley with her family to return to Montfort.
This is probably the most angsty love-themed story in the collection. Which is fine by me (hahaha). It seems Aveyard wrote this story to give closure to readers who felt the end of War Storm was too open-ended and had too many lingering issues between Mare and Cal.
Equally important, we do get to see more of Kilorn Warren. For instance, he’s been busy working with the Premier and getting more involved with the Montfort government. Moreover, he’s in a relationship with Cameron. Good for him.
Mare is back in Ascendant to strategize and help with the formation of the Nortan republic and the ongoing Lakeland threat. Because we’re in Montfort, a gala is thrown to get everyone together, and the event brings Cal and Mare into each other’s orbit. By the end of Fire Light, they’re still madly in love with each other, still not labeling anything between them, and the story leaves us with the undeniable notion that history repeats itself.
For example, the many parallels between the US Civil War and the Silver Secession. The takeaway here is to remember history and not repeat the same mistakes.
Fare Well summary
Fare Well was one of my favorite stories in Broken Throne. It begins with a scene between Maven and Cal. This is after Maven’s capture and subsequent trading by the Lakelanders on the island meeting point. As I’ve always believed, Maven died with goodness in his soul, love for his brother. He just buried it deep down and hid it away to protect himself. And I think, to push Cal away once and for all.
“I would do it all again, Cal,” I tell him, lying with such grace. It feels easy, after so many years behind a mask. “If given the choice to go back, I would let her change me. I would watch you kill him. I’d send you to the arena. And I’d get it right. I’d give you what you deserve. I’d kill you now if I could. I’d do it a thousand times.”
Maven succeeds, and this is when Cal finally gives up on his little brother. We know what happens next.
In the following chapter, Cal has flown to Tuck. Call me ridiculous, but I somehow hoped Maven would be alive (since we didn’t actually see him dead or get any details on what happened with his corpse in War Storm). I had a small sliver of hope that they kept him alive on Tuck to try and fix him.
Cal makes his way through Tuck. Everything feels eerie. We only know that Elara and Shade are buried on the island. But then he approaches Maven’s grave:
Beloved son, beloved brother. Let no one follow.
This is when any last hopes and dreams for Maven died. Although it was closure. Just not the closure I wanted.
How does Broken Throne end?
The rest of Fare Well describes the aftermath and ongoing work of everything following the war. Kilorn is now Premier of Montfort, focusing on history and science education. Shade and Farley’s daughter Clara has the ability to teleport. And Mare and Cal’s two children, Shade and Coriane have abdicated the throne to help stifle the rising opposition about getting a Calore back on the Nortan throne.
Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard ends with a sobering quote from the mysterious newblood Jon. The gist of the message is that history repeats itself, and that it is human nature to destroy and create. Over and over and over. It makes you wonder what kind of future we’re creating for ourselves here in 2020. And how the history books will tell our story.
Book review: Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #4.5)
I rated Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard five stars on Goodreads. Even though there were a couple of stories I would rate four stars on their own, I think overall, the collection deserves the full five. For instance, Aveyard’s writing was consistently beautiful and rich and emotional, and it was such a treat reading about this world and these characters she created.
Queen Song was particularly heartrending.
Am I happy about how things ended with Maven? Nope. I never will be, but I did get the sad, bitter closure I was needing to move on.
Mare will forever irritate me, but I did love getting to see that she and Cal had children together. Shade and Coriane. My heart twisted at their names. And the fact that Clara took after her daddy’s abilities also made me smile.
Still, I do wonder about Jon. His purpose. If he could’ve helped save Maven. I also wonder about Tyton. If Tyton was so powerful and could manipulate brain electricity, then maybe there was a tiny chance for Maven. I’m just saying.
But okay. I’ll stop my whining. If you’ve read the entire Red Queen series. What did you think? Would love to hear your thoughts below.
As always, I’ll leave you with my favorite quotes from Broken Throne.
Broken Throne quotes
- Coriane did her best to pick pick pick at her meal.
- I’m told her technique is precise, almost perfect. You won’t feel her if she doesn’t want you to.
- She hits you, you hit her back, Coriane. That’s the way of my kingdom.
- A strange prince, an even stranger night, she wrote later. I don’t know if I ever want to see him again. But he seemed lonely too. Should we not be lonely together?
- Only her diary knew the cost of such lies.
- What am I becoming in this place?
- I am not someone I recognize. Is this what growing up means?
- But there is a difference between a single candle in darkness, and a sunrise.
- The boy was the sun in Coriane’s sky. On hard days, he split the darkness. On good days, he lit the world.
- Would you like to talk about the incident at the Hud?
No I fucking would not.
- I’m Barrow. Shade Barrow. And you better not get me killed.
- I’m ashamed to say I reached for him first. His wrist, his neck, searching for a pulse that wasn’t there.
- You think I can’t lie through pain?
- Don’t look at her, don’t look at her, don’t look at her. Focus, focus, focus.
- Who can say where the paths lead, or how the scales may balance in another decade? I suppose I can, but that is my curse. To watch, to see, until the ending of all things. We destroy. We rebuild. We destroy again. It is the constant of our kind. We are all a god’s chosen, and we are all a god’s cursed.
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