Victoria Aveyard – Cruel Crown
Read my review of book:
1. Red Queen
Read By: Andi Arndt (“Queen Song”); Jayne Entwhistle (“Steel Scars”); Amanda Dolan (preview of Glass Sword)
Length: 4h 31min (208 pages) (6h 25min with the preview of Glass Sword)
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Started: 28 January 2016
Finished: 01 February 2016
Where did it come from? From the publishers for review.
Why do I have it? I really enjoyed Red Queen.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 22 January 2016.
A doomed queen and a
leader of the rebellion,
leading to Red Queen.
Summary: Cruel Crown is a collection of two short stories/novellas that are prequels to the events of Red Queen. (It also includes a rather lengthy “preview” of Glass Sword, but I basically never read preview chapters – just give me the real book already!) “Queen Song” is a story from Corianne’s point of view, of growing up with her brother Julian and her best friend Sara, and how this young girl from a relatively minor Silver house caught the eye of the king… and the consequences of that to her, and to the kingdom. “Steel Scars” is from Farley’s point of view, and gives us an insider look at the Red Dawn rebellion immediately prior to (and during the first part of) Red Queen.
Review: Of the two stories, I found “Queen Song” the more interesting. Corianne is never seen in the main series books, only talked about, so it was interesting to “meet” her in person, and to see what she was like before she was royal. It didn’t necessarily answer many questions about the main series (I guess you don’t want to put critical details in a short story that maybe not everyone will read), but as a character portrait, it was pretty effective. (It did clear up some of the geography of Red Queen for me, though – there are enough new place names given that it is clearly happening in some kind of post-apocalyptic North America.) However, the critical plot points, the things that were most closely connected to the main plot, all happened pretty quickly at the end, and didn’t have enough detail to be really satisfactory. Also, the whole conceit is that this story is written in a journal, but how did years’ worth of writing all of this fit in one journal she got when she was 15?
“Steel Scars” paints readers a better picture of Farley’s character, and gives some insight into what’s driving her, and what she’s given up, and what she’s become in service of the rebellion. Again, it was interesting, but I don’t feel like it gained me a lot of new information that I didn’t already know (or couldn’t have surmised). It also didn’t work as well in audiobook format; partly this was due to a lot of it being military memos back and forth, with all of the heading and code names being read out each time, so it was harder to keep track of the story, and harder to go back and check who was writing to who each time. But it was also because I was very distracted by the narrator’s accent. Amanda Dolan, who reads the audiobooks of the main series, reads Farley with what I think is supposed to be an New Zealand accent, for no clear reason that I can determine. In those books, it’s a little strange when I stop to think about it, but it doesn’t really bother me. So I guess it’s consistent that the narrator for this story, which is primarily in Farley’s voice, should also have a heavy accent (although not the same; more plummy British), but since this story makes it clear that Farley is not from Britain or New Zealand, I found it really distracting. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: These stories are likely primarily going to be of interest to those that have already read (and enjoyed) Red Queen – I don’t know if the worldbuilding is involved enough to allow these stories to stand on their own, and you’d be missing most of the important stuff anyways.
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First Line: As usual, Julian gave her a book.
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