The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan


Goodreads: The Poison Throne
Series: Moorehawke Trilogy #1
Source: Library
Published: 2008


Fifteen-year-old Wynter Moorehawke has returned to the palace where she grew up like a sister to the two princes, the bastard son Razi and his younger brother, the heir Alberon.  But things have changed.  The cats no longer talk, the ghosts are not friends, Alberon is missing, and the king is torturing subjects.  The king desires Razi to take the throne, but Razi knows his brother must be the one to rule.  Now Wynter must choose: her king or the true heir.

Star Divider


The Poison Throne is a compelling adult fantasy drive more by character development than by plot.  Fifteen-year-old Wynter Moorehawke has returned to the palace where she was raised as a sister to the princes, only to find that the king has turned into a bloodthirsty tyrant and his heir Alberon has fled.  Without a license to practice their craft, Wynter and her father are at the mercy of the king, trapped in the palace until it pleases his majesty to grant them their livelihood.  Every day is a balancing act as Wynter strives to stay on the good side of the king, but also follow her own conscience.

Fans of books like Six of Crows will likely find The Poison Throne a welcome addition their fantasy shelves as the focus remains on the characters and the hard choices they must make to survive.  Though nearly all the characters are sympathetic, they all, at one point or another, make decisions that can seem horrifying.  Torture, killing, and more become their weapons of choice as they fight to preserve their secrets, protect the ones they love, and save their own lives.  In Wynter’s world, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine who is fighting on the side of right.

At times, the pacing of the book can seem slow and, indeed, readers will realize from the start that the book is basically just a set-up for Wynter to flee the palace at the end.  Nothing much happens in terms of Wynter figuring out what the king is hiding or why his heir has fled.  Instead, the story focuses on Wynter’s reactions to the changes at the palace, her complicated relationships with her brother the prince, and her feelings for a man whom she knows is going around sleeping with the servants.  The characters are so compelling, however, that this focus is not misplaced.

The Poison Throne will appeal to fans of court intrigue and stories featuring complex characters not drawn in black-and-white.  While audiences who read primarily YA may initially find the pacing slow,  the characters and their choices are so interesting that readers will likely find themselves drawn into the story regardless.  A solid start to a fantasy trilogy.

3 Stars

4 thoughts on “The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan

  1. novellisteer says:

    I do adore plot story usually about court and place fantasy but am still yet to read SIX OF CROWS Series and ACOTAR Series. This book sounds like what I would not pick up due to the slow pace of the story


    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, it’s differently paced because it’s adult fantasy rather than YA. Personally, I enjoyed getting to know the characters, but I know people have different reading preferences, so it’s definitely something to keep in mind!


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