Queens of Fennbirn (Three Dark Crowns 0.5) consists of two prequel novellas; The Young Queens and The Oracle Queen.
By the time we met Mirabella, Arsinoe and Katharine in Three Dark Crowns, the triplets have been long separated. The teenage queens already see one another as rivals, and are well aware of their upcoming fight to the death. The Young Queens takes us back to a time of innocence for the queens, focusing on the first six years of their lives, spent together in peace at the Black Cottage. We also learn more about their mother, and the controversial (and monumental) decision she made when the sisters were born.
The Oracle Queen takes place hundreds of years before the events of Three Dark Crowns, and gives us insight into the story of Queen Elsabet, the last queen to have the gift of precognition. Though Fennbirn history has come to see Elsabet as a villain of epic proportions, here we learn the true story behind her madness and downfall.
The Young Queens
Whilst reading Three Dark Crowns and it’s sequel, One Dark Throne, I often found myself wanting to know more about Mirabella, Arsinoe and Katharine. I wondered; did the triplets love one another before they learned their fate? Or did they always know that two of them must die in order for the third to become the true queen? What role did their mother play in their early life? The Young Queens answers all of these questions and more. The novella doesn’t have much of a traditional plot, instead, it’s a glimpse into the queen’s childhoods, and an opportunity to learn more about their personalities and relationships. Consequently, I wouldn’t recommend this novella to those who haven’t read the first two instalments of the Three Dark Crowns series. It is, however, perfect for readers (like myself) who love the triplets and want to know everything there is to know about their characters!
The Oracle Queen
Oracle Queens are only mentioned in passing in Three Dark Crowns and One Dark Throne, thus we know little to nothing about them before reading this novella. All that we’ve really been told about them is that queens born with the gift of precognition are drowned at birth, as the last Oracle Queen (Queen Elsabet), was driven mad by her abilities, and her reign almost destroyed the monarchy system of the island. Here, we see behind the myths surrounding Queen Elsabet, and learn the story of her betrayal, failed romances, and tragic imprisonment. Unlike The Young Queens, The Oracle Queen has more of a traditional structure, and can be read apart from the main series. It’s a beautiful story about love and loss, and it’s ending absolutely broke my heart! Not only was it tragic, but I also wanted more. Both this novella and The Young Queens had me absolutely hooked, and I still wish that they had been written as full length novels.
Personally, I am OBSESSED with both Kendare Blake’s writing, and the world of Three Dark Crowns. With the release of the next book, Two Dark Reigns, still three months away, I needed something to tide me over while I wait. And this book was definitely it! Once again I was able to immerse myself in Blake’s dark, but beautiful tale, learning more about both the current queens and the history of their island. For die hard fans who can’t get enough of Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine, I 100% recommend this book! The writing is superb, and both novellas turned me into an emotional mess. The Young Queens made me hopeful; given the queen’s once strong bond, how could they ever come to kill one another?! Whereas The Oracle Queen was so full of despair and tragedy that it brought tears to my eyes for Queen Elsabet. That being said, if you haven’t read Three Dark Crowns, or didn’t particularly enjoy it, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend picking up a copy of Queens of Fennbirn. This book is a treat for those who are already fans of the series, and I don’t think the first story would mean anything to those who are unfamiliar with Three Dark Crowns, however, new fans may still enjoy The Oracle Queen.
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