Blood divides Mare Barrow’s world.
Those lucky enough to be born with silver blood hold seemingly magical abilities, ranging all the way from controlling fire and healing others to manipulating metal. Those born of red blood, though, are subjected to a life of hard labor and military service.
Mare, a character created by author Victoria Aveyard, lives like any other person with red blood: she experiences life while counting down the days until her 18th birthday and her conscription into the army. She is part of the unlucky group who have no trade or job, and thus has no way out of their impending military service. Instead of thinking about her future, Mare spends her time stealing, and in a turn of events, Mare’s stealing lands her a job as a maid in the summer palace of the king of Norta.
Little does Mare know that she is not just a red — she may have red blood, but Mare has the power of a silver-blooded person. Mare has the ability to create and control lightning with just a thought, and with her powers accidentally displayed to the silver nobility, forced to live a lie, Mare goes into hiding as a long-lost silver and quickly becomes betrothed to one of the kingdom’s two princes — Maven Calore.
Not wishing to live as a pawn for a silver king, Mare unites with a band of rebels called the Scarlet Guard, and vows to help them destroy the rule of the silvers by any means necessary.
As Mare challenges the king, queen and other silvers, she discovers surprising allies, and even more surprising feelings of love for both of the princes, each of whom she has vowed to dethrone. Despite the difficulties in her path, Mare survives betrayals, battles, love, pain and even imprisonment.
Survival is all Mare cares about, but she will die as long as she can take the kingdom of Norta and the cruel reign of silvers with her.
The “Red Queen” series not only captivates, but it’s addictive. The four novels do not feel to be nearly enough once finished, despite their length, being more than 400 pages for each volume. Aveyard’s writing makes each of the nearly 2,000 pages completely enthralling with her vivid descriptions and fully developed world.
Along with this, Mare is a character whose reliability is frustrating. Her fear, her love and her continual stubbornness create a heroine who may be flawed, but one whom you will end up loving. Mare will do whatever it takes to protect her family, friends and the world she hopes to create, but often she cannot look at other’s perspectives. This inability to compromise leads to a dark and vengeful streak for Mare, but Aveyard manages to save the character from her own darkness, and soon develops her into a broken, but stronger, leader. In the end, Mare does all she can to save those who can’t save themselves, and that brings to light her selflessness.
Tiberias Calore the Seventh, or “Cal,” is an extremely honorable character. As the heir to the throne of Norta, he knows nothing other than the duty he was raised to uphold. Throughout the series, Cal’s kindness often leaves him left out to dry while those around him seek to tear him down. Cal, the epitome of a rule follower in every circumstance, breaks nearly all of his rules for Mare. His love for her creates difficulty, but it opens his eyes to the world he thought to be okay. In reality, this world is in dire need of change. Minus a few mistakes and struggles, I have loved Cal’s character from the start and knew he would eventually see the truth of the twisted world he ruled.
Maven Calore, Mare’s betrothed, has been sculpted more than a statue. His mother, Elara Merandus, is a whisperer, a person who can go into one’s thoughts and make them see anything they want, and if they are powerful enough, they can remove what they want, as well. Elara removed a lot from Maven, but she also manipulated him. At the beginning of the series, Maven seems to be a loveable and relatable character, someone for Mare to trust in a new and dangerous place. But he quickly betrays her, and his true character comes to light. Maven is not the kind, thoughtful prince he pretends to be, but instead, he is merely a shell, a shadow of a person once there. I think of Maven to be the perfect villain, a lost and confused person with an even more confusing background, including being controlled by the strings of a puppet master.
Overall, I was captivated by the series and the several hours of reading were well worth the time. Each book built onto the one before it, creating a well-rounded and complex world full of complicated alliances, diverse history and fascinating culture. The characters filling this world were equally well developed, each having complicated personalities shown throughout the books while at the same time not diminishing the main character. The Red Queen series is a magnificent quartet that will not disappoint.