Celine Kiernan – The Rebel Prince

After completing the second novel of the Moorehawke Trilogy, The Crowded Shadows, I was quite anticipating the third novel, The Rebel Prince (2010). The second novel was more or less the story of a journey and now the journey was over and we could return to the heart of the matter around which the main plot revolved. Celine Kiernan showed plenty of qualities in The Crowded Shadows, although there were also weaknesses. In the third and final novel she should have to deliver and make up for those weaknesses and the lack of plot development.

Alas she failed to do so, delivering an unsatisfying conclusion to the story. As I had not read the first novel of the trilogy yet, I had not encountered several central characters, as they had been absent in the second novel (another one of those weaknesses), so I was happy to finally meet one and see the story progress. However, the plot did not move on. The main characters instead got stuck and Kiernan ensued in extensive politicking, focusing, as she had in the second novel, to character interactions and conflicts. Although she handles that part very well, it seems to be the only thing she cares about. If she does other things just as well I don’t know as she hardly bothers to spend time there. Either so, despite a more forward start of the novel, the development slumped down and the character conflicts just became repetitive to me. The story did not really move on and it also lacked the variety of the second novel as it become more static. The worst thing is that all this went on for more than two-thirds of the novel. At that point it seemed that Kiernan suddenly realized there was still a plot to finish. There was no time to make use of the possible impacts of the politicking, so they were pretty much ignored. A sudden change was thrown in and Kiernan quickly rushed to the final, including some odd twists which may have been not implausible, but were in a way irritating as they provided no clear reason why it should be thus. I was left with many questions.

The funny thing about this strange final novel is that I am still quite interested in how the first novel is set up to allow such strange second and third novels. Perhaps it will give me some better insights to understand how it all developed to such odd plot development.

Kiernan’s world-building remains vague as ever as there is again little movement from location and urban settlements are absent in the story. We have to do with a camp and even that is not explored at all. Of course such is not required for a story. This is a character-driven plot. It is just with so many references to other places it feels strange when they play no role at all in the story.

I considered the second novel to be between a decent and good level. I don’t give this novel more than decent. Kiernan remain strong at character interaction as she proves again in this novel. However, she seems to have serious issues with setting up a plot for the story. The trilogy seems to revolve about a single event with a few secondary storylines. Strangely enough it are the secondary storylines which receive the main focus.

So is this series recommendable? It is a fantasy with few fantastical elements set in an alternative medieval Europe, so that can appease fans of more realistic fantasy. The character interaction is strong and provides an enjoyable reading experience. You don’t realize the plot is not really developing until you get to the end. That is a quality. Are you looking for something for a great or complex, multi-layered story, then you won’t really find it here. Kiernan does make it seem at times that it is, but in reality she spends more time on other things than developing her plot.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.