Following on from the Are-you-@#*%ing-kidding-me? cliffhanger ending of The Falconer, that made all those completing it demand to know where the hell the rest of the pages were, The Vanishing Throne picks up pretty much directly where its predecessor left off. Upon escaping from the imprisonment of sadistic faery warlord Lonnrach, our heroine Lady Aileana Kameron returns to a world lain to waste by the Wild Hunt as the faeries ransack all of human civilisation in search of the one thing that can save their dying realm.
As the middle instalment of a trilogy, The Vanishing Throne has the unenviable responsibility of continuing and expanding the original story while also being a complete tale in its own right and not just a 350-page expository infodump. Thankfully, the plot quickly veers sharply away from the ‘lone hero saves the world’ fantasy archetype that The Falconer played up to right to its dying moments, instead crafting a richer, deeper and darker tale. The principal characters, both heroic and villainous, are given far greater development, each revealing themselves to be neither wholly virtuous nor utterly immoral, but like all people lie somewhere in between the two extremes as they do all that they believe they must to defend those they care about.
As the hidden truths of faery history are revealed, Aileana becomes the key figure in a centuries-old power play, with events hanging on her death or continued survival. Her previous concerns, the presumption imparted by her nobility to marry well and remain respectable while keeping hidden her nocturnal faery-hunting exploits lest she be considered unladylike, have all now been rendered moot by war. However, she still feels the weight of responsibility to represent all past Falconers, the line of warrior women to which she is the sole remaining heir, and stand against the tsunami of devastation that threatens to annihilate the entire planet.
Figures on both sides experience the pull of forces such as tradition, duty, responsibility and destiny, while also feeling the desire to escape such expectations fostered upon them by nothing more than the accident of birth as the lines between good and evil become further blurred as the plot develops. Although the story is yet to be finished at the book’s conclusion, the ending is far more of a natural stopping point than last time, and sets things up nicely for the trilogy’s final chapter where the ultimate fate of two worlds will be decided.
THE VANISHING THRONE / AUTHOR: ELIZABETH MAY / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW