Friday, December 30, 2011

Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead

Shadow Heir
Richelle Mead
Dark Swan #4

**This review contains spoilers for all of the previous Dark Swan novels. If you haven't read them yet, DON'T READ THE REVIEW! I'll let you know before we get to the Shadow Heir spoilers, but there will be some of those later on too.**

At the end of Iron Crowned, I wasn't sure how Richelle Mead was going to be able to wrap this series up in just one more book. I don't know about you, but I've never seen a baby with the ability to hold a sword – or even hold its own head up. So unless we were going to skip forward twenty years or so, it didn't seem like the prophecy would really be resolved.

We did not skip forward twenty years or so. Rather than the prophecy, this book actually revolves around a quest to protect Eugenie's, Dorian's, Maiwenn's, and other neighboring kingdoms from a deadly winter spell. I thought it was a little strange that not a whole lot of focus was on Eugenie's kids. (Okay, the first quarter of the book was about them/her pregnancy, but it wasn't that exciting.) It seems like, since the whole series was about Eugenie's potential kids, there would be more attention on them when they were no longer potential, however hard she tried to hide them, but they ended up with this random threat from a kingdom we'd never heard of.

Overall, I found this conclusion (which I'll talk about specifically soon) mostly reasonable but unsatisfying. Everything about it just seemed really out of the blue. The previous books really needed to have more hints of the ending, and this one should have been about Eugenie and Dorian trying to stop Kiyo and Maiwenn from killing Eugenie's son, not a sudden mission to a previously unknown kingdom. I would have been fine with this book, which has Mead's standard fun, easy-to-read writing style, if it hadn't been the last one of the series. As it is, it feels kind of rushed and not really complete.

**If you haven't read Shadow Heir yet, STOP HERE! The rest of the review contains spoilers for Shadow Heir.**

I have to say, one thing I am very happy about is that Eugenie ended up with Dorian. I was so worried that she was going to go back to Kiyo, and I'm incredibly relieved that didn't happen. (Although I would have been totally okay with her letting him die too. But maybe that's a little harsh.)

However, other than that, I wasn't really pleased with the ending. How could no one know Ysabel was Storm King's daughter? I thought the Paigel plotline, while a reasonable solution to the prophecy, really came out of nowhere. There was never a hint that Ysabel was Storm King's daughter – sure, she had red hair and air magic, but Dorian has red hair too, and presumably lots of people have air magic. I really disliked that this whole solution came out of nowhere, and then when Maiwenn arbitrarily decided that the prophecy might shift to Isaac, I was even more annoyed. The randomness didn't even solve anything!

While it was interesting to learn more of Volusian's history, I would really have preferred if they took out the Yew Land plotline altogether. It really wasn't necessary and made the series wrap-up part of the story feel even more rushed. If the whole book had been focused on Paigel and the twins, it might not have felt so unsatisfying.

Finally, why the hell did Kiyo wait until then to tell Eugenie he wasn't the father of her kids? That really came out of nowhere. He never thought to say, "Hey, honey, I got a vasectomy, so you don't have to worry about getting knocked up with me anymore"? That was the most WTF moment in a book with far too many WTF moments. And I really objected to Eugenie then a) deciding not to tell Dorian that he was the father of her children, and b) planning to keep them hidden from him. Besides just being cruel, that seems like it's inviting future trouble. Has she never read Oedipus? Or the Iliad? Don't send your kids away to try to avoid prophecies!

So although I did enjoy Shadow Heir, I can't say I'm pleased that it was the last book in the series. It seems as though the only thing that was fixed was Eugenie and Dorian's relationship, which was definitely not enough to complete the series for me.

**End spoilers**

Quality: Fair
Enjoyability: Acceptable

GARS Score: 0.8 (1/3/3/2)
What's a GARS score?

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