The Skewed Throne by Joshua PalmatierThrone of Amenkor #1
Published on November 7, 2006 by Daw Books
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
One young girl holds the fate of a city in her hands-If she fails, it spells her doom-and the end of her world.Twice in the history of the city of Amenkor, the White Fire had swept over the land. Over a thousand years ago it came from the east, covering the entire city, touching everyone, leaving them unburned-but bringing madness in its wake, a madness that only ended with the death of the ruling Mistress of the city. Five years ago the Fire came again, and Amenkor has been spiraling into ruin ever since. The city's only hope rests in the hands of a young girl, Varis, who has taught herself the art of survival and has been trained in the ways of the assassin. Venturing deep into the heart of Amenkor, Varis will face her harshest challenges and greatest opportunities. And it is here that she will either find her destiny-or meet her doom.
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What is it with fantasies selling a great concept but failing to create a memorable and intriguing read? When I received an omnibus edition of the Throne of Amenkor series (this being the first book), I got really excited. If you didn’t read the synopsis, go do that then come back because it sounds like if Arya from A Game of Thrones had her own novel. Which is awesome.
Not so much in practice but such is the way of the world.
The Skewed Throne simply felt. . . bland. Predictable. The entire book felt less like a book and more like the set-up for something bigger. Which, really, isn’t how you want a book to go. If this were a TV show I could see this being the first episode, maybe first two.
Anyway, Varis was an interesting protagonist to follow. She starts off the book at around 14 years old and gets older as the story progresses. Much of the focus around her life is about her thieving at first which was cool and all but also extensive. She gets a lot of character development, changing from the hardened street urchin into something more. Unfortunately instead of weaving it into the story, the author focused on the character then the story almost as if they were two separate entities. Because of this, I wasn’t really sure what the point was of this book, especially since the plot didn’t pick up until later.
But my biggest issue with The Skewed Throne? The women. Or, I should say, lack thereof of women outside of the victim/damsel role. The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan was guilty of this too, as though the author can’t have more than one strong female character in a book. Whether that’s to make that one character stand out or just how they view the world, I can’t say, but I wasn’t a fan. If you want to see it done well, I highly recommend Brian Staveley’s Skullsworn.
Honestly, I don’t have much more to say about this one. I’ll attempt the sequel as I liked Varis as a character and am curious where she’ll go next but at this point she’s the only reason for me to continue.