Wow. What a story. I'm not sure what to say about this one, other than to read it. Especially if you're a fan of the series. It's not technically necessary to read this to enjoy the larger series, but it will add a lot to the background- and we finally get to see the truth of the oracle queen story that has been referenced a few times. And it's a doozy. Much like the other Three Dark Crowns novella The Young Queens, this one shows us a youthful Mirabella, Arsinoe and Katherine- but only for the prologue. The rest of the novella tells us the story of Queen Elsabet, the last of the oracle queens.
Elsabet seems like a fine ruler, young and inexperienced, but there are currents of treachery all around her, and the machinations and political intrigue in the story will be very familiar to fans of the Three Dark Crowns books. In a lot of ways this reminds me of Game of Thrones, for the absolutely ruthless way alliances are made and betrayals are hatched. The story of Elsabet is a cautionary tale in the time of Mirabella and her sisters, a warning against the paranoia of a sight gift gone awry. After all girls with the sight gift now are drowned, so whatever Elsabet did must have been bad? After all, she is said to have killed three houses on that infamous day.
This novella give us the story of that day, and I thought it was really powerful to go back and read the prologue after finishing it. The prologue is from Mirabella's perspective and finds her musing on the tale of Elsabet, which her and her sisters have learned just that day. Mirabella wonders how much of the story is true, and as I mentioned above, this novella gives us that information. I can say that this was gripping, even though it's mostly political intrigue- we already know from the main series how ruthless the factions are, and how not everything is as it seems- clearly this was the case five hundred years ago as well, in Elsabet's era. And we get some insights into other aspects of Fennbirn's history, including the fact that the mist was not protecting Fennbirn yet at that time, and that their interactions with the outside world were very different.
I can't recommend this enough. It's a good tale even if you've never read Three Dark Crowns, but for someone into the series it will add a lot. This makes me even more anxious for the next book!
Not even sure where to start, there's so much to discuss here. I'll start by expressing my horror at the ending- I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, since we know how it ends, but to see what befell Elsabet made me mad! And if I didn't like the Arron house, I really don't like them now! I mean they're about as bad as house Lannister from Game of Thrones. I liked Elsabet, and was gutted when Bess was killed. And Jonathan's family... man, that was tough. What makes it even more galling is that in Mirabella's time, none of this is challenged- everyone believes that Elsabet went mad. It's enough to make me hope that in the main series someone sets the record straight!