I have so enjoyed the first two books in the Blood and Gold trilogy by Kim Wilkins and felt ambivalent about reading the final one, Queens of the Sea, because I knew that on completion, my time with the amazing warrior queen, Bluebell and her dysfunctional and fascinating family must come to an end. But what a magnificent closure it has been.
In this concluding novel, the simmering war between the followers of the old gods and those of the new, violent Trimartyr god, comes to a brutal and bloody conclusion. The time for “mad” Willow, one of Bluebell’s sisters and Ivy’s twin, to rise has arrived and she grasps her opportunity with wild and unforgiving hands, turning on those she once called her people and even her own kin in a murderous grab for power at all costs.
Having lost her city through terrible deceit and betrayal, Bluebell and her remaining sisters, some of whom have their own personal demons and burdens to carry, must turn not only to the gods they know and love, but place their faith in what has always been believed to be myths and legends in order to even have a chance of defeating Willow and the Crow King, Hakon.
But with Ash divested of her powers, and Rowan, Rose’s estranged daughter uncertain whether she should embrace hers or not, and Ivy struggling to find the strength to leave her abusive lover, and arguments and tensions erupting among remaining tribes, Bluebells allies are no longer as dependable as they should be. Forced to seek help across the seas, Bluebell’s voyage is not only fraught with personal risks, but with the very real chance she could lose her kingdom and, worse, the faith of her people, forever.
As the Trimartyr’s unleash a reign of terror upon Bluebell’s people, promising more if their queen dare retaliates, time and trust – in herself and others – is running out for Bluebell and the kingdom that is her legacy.
Beautifully written, this is a page-turner par excellence from the mistress of the cross-genre tale. The pace is perfect, the characters alternately flawed and formidable but always possessed of a realness that makes you invest in them in a myriad of ways. A combination of fantasy and history, in this series – and this final instalment especially – Wilkins has drawn on her own deep knowledge of Celtic and Nordic history and myth to give readers a thrilling story that will live in the mind and satisfy the senses long after the last page is finished. Brilliant.