The Usurper – King Rolen’s Kin #3 – Rowena Cory Daniells

The UsurperRelease date: August 31st, 2010
Publisher: Solaris Books
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 489
Format: E-book
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The third book in a major new fantasy trilogy. Now a slave, Piro finds herself in the Merofynian Palace where, if her real identity is discovered, she will be executed. Meanwhile, Fyn is desperate to help his brother, Bryen, who is now the uncrowned King. Bryen never sought power but now he finds himself at the centre of a dangerous resistance movement as the people of Rolencia flee vicious invaders. How can Byren defeat the invaders, when half his warriors are women and children, and the other half are untrained boys and old men?


This was supposed to be the final volume in a trilogy and as such, I think I would have been dissatisfied at the end of it. As it is, there is a 4th book that came out last year, so the questions I have after this book may still be answered. I’m glad Rowena wrote another book about King Rolen’s Kin, because there was so much more left to discuss. We get an ending to one of the major storylines, but the one that got the most attention in the first book is still left unresolved. I’m pretty curious what the 4th book will bring us in that aspect.

‘The Usurper’ picks up right after ‘The Uncrowned King’ where Byren is licking his wounds in the mountains in a camp they built for everyone that wants to join Byren against Cobalt plus the survivors from Dovecote estate. Piro is on her way to Merofynia, claimed by Palatyne to serve his bride-to-be Isolt Kingsdaughter, while her previous master, the mysterious Lord Dunstany, wants her to spy for him. Fyn finds himself on a ship full of sea-hounds, the rough equivalent of pirates, with a rather obscure allegiance. All of them still want to avenge the deaths of their family and take back Rolencia.

If I had to choose my favourite storyline in this book, it would definitely be Piro’s. She is such a strong character and is not afraid to take matters into her own hands to make sure she survives. This way she ends up on Ostron Isle, in Mage Tsulamyth’s tower. There is a great deal of mystery in this storyline, where the powerful character of Lord Dunstany also makes an appearance. Trust me, you won’t expect everything that Piro finds out on Mage Isle! I really liked the interaction between Piro and Agent Tyro. There is certainly more there, but due to everything that has happened so far, Piro can’t trust him, though she really wants to. The tension, the magic, the mystery, it all serves to make this storyline the most powerful of the whole book.
There is however another character in this storyline, namely Isolt, but I didn’t really like her. I can’t quite pinpoint why that is, but I lacked every sort of connection with her. Piro was the star of the story for me.

Second on my top storylines is Fyn’s. The insecure monk from the first book who only had to worry about bullies and the fact that his affinity wasn’t good enough to become a mystic, the monk who froze when he had to kill a man, has now grown out to be a strong and clever man. Only 17, but already very mature and full of ideas and daring. I think putting Fyn with the Sea-hounds was a fantastic idea to develop his character further. The only thing that bothered me with Fyn was his romantic storyline. I can understand why he doesn’t want to show his feeling in the situation he’s in, but their feelings for each other are so obvious that it gets annoying to watch them be oblivious about it and trying to avoid it. We already have something like that with Byren, so twice in one book was a bit much.

Byren’s was my least favourite storyarc. It feels a bit like his character is slipping away from me. Where I could really feel for him in the first book, that is now almost completely gone. I thought the action we got in during his time in the spotlight was pretty good and even with a quite surprising outcome, but all the stuff going on at the sidelines couldn’t really touch me. I had hopes for the romantic part when Florin came in to the picture and I liked the tension between them, but it dragged out a bit, both of them not willing to acknowledge their feelings.

Even with the few minor stuff that I didn’t like in this book, I enjoyed ‘The Usurper’ very much. I love diving back into the story of Byren, Fyn and Piro and I enjoyed the fact that we got to see a whole lot more of the world Rowena created. The ending was climatic, full of action and wrapped up one of the major arcs wonderfully. We even got a full on Affinity battle, which I had been hoping for since the first book. Speaking of which, Affinity gets a lot more mention in this book and takes on a leading role in the story.
If you enjoyed the previous books, there is no doubt you will also enjoy ‘The Usurper’.


Posted on March 28, 2014, in Rowena Cory Daniells and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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