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Monday, March 28, 2016

Blood Queen: The Third Book Of Lharmell by Rhiannon Hart

After losing Rodden at the last Turning, Zeraphina is alone. Or she would be, if her mother and Prince Folsum would leave her in peace. The prince, blind in one eye after an attack by Zeraphina’s brant, has taken up residence in her home and is insisting she marry him. When an accident happens, Zeraphina flees – straight into the arms of a waiting harming.

Now a captive, she discovers she’s being taken to Lharmell. But not to be executed. To be crowned queen. The identity of the one who has given the orders is shrouded in mystery, and Zeraphina can’t help but be suspicious. After everything she’s done the Lharmellins should want her dead. Just who is awaiting her in Lharmell?

If you haven't read the first two volumes of this trilogy, stop right here, go back and read them.  This volume doesn't stand alone. Really. And the last one ended on a cliffhanger. In case you have read them, this review is being written carefully to avoid spoilers. The first of the spoilers is about a third of the way in, and I must admit I did not see it coming. And there's another twist in the final chapter which I really didn't see coming, which left me sputtering, "But - but - if that's the case, then why...?" No. I can't tell you. You'll have to read and find out. But not until after you've read the first two, Blood Song and Blood Storm

Zeraphina, having lost her beloved Rodden, has spent the last few months in her room at her mother's castle, numbing the pain with doses of laudanum. Things don't seem to be getting better, and become even worse when her nasty suitor tries to force the marriage. 

Escaping, she finds herself heading north in the company of a harming(a sort of semi-vampire like Zeraphina herself)who calls himself Raufo, talks with a Scottish accent and works to rid her of the laudanum habit. He seems familiar, but Zeraphina is in no mood to think about it. 

And when they reach Lharmell, she is in for another shock, meeting someone she had thought was long dead ...

In some ways, this is the story of Zeraphina coming to terms with herself and who she is. But there's plenty of action as well, though not till the second half of the book. We meet Zeraphina's sister Lilith again, and Lilith's husband Amis, who turn out to be nicer people than they seemed in the last two volumes. There's a dramatic tsunami in the middle of the other troubles our heroes have to face. There's even the headache of having to fight invaders from the air instead of the usual medieval siege.

This is a good conclusion to the trilogy, worth following up if you've been frustrated by that cliffhanger at the end of the previous volume. We must thank the author for deciding to finish it herself when her publishers decided not to. Publishers do that sometimes; in one case, the publisher, a friend of mine, told me that he'd decided against a third volume of a trilogy because the author had moved overseas. That shouldn't matter in this day and age, but it meant she wasn't around to promote her book here when she was needed, and it sold only half of the numbers of the previous volume. With a small press, he just couldn't afford to risk a third volume. I can think of three more, off the top of my head, but won't go into detail here.

The fact is, there is a final volume! I would like to thank Rhiannon Hart for offering me this book for my school library. It will go on to the shelves as soon as I return from term break. I wish her well for sales on this and on the first two, which can still bring her royalties. 

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