Book Reviews

The Wheel of Osheim Book Review

The Wheel of Osheim (Red Queen’s War book 3).

Mark Lawrence.

5 stars out of 5.

Book Blurb:

All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued.

For Jalan Kendeth getting back out alive and with Loki’s Key is all that matters. Loki’s creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jal’s fortune back in the living world.

Jal plans to return to the three Ws that have been the core of his idle and debauched life: wine, women, and wagering. Fate however has other, larger, plans…

The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster and it will crack the world unless it’s stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there’s nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers.

Jal and Snorri face many dangers – from the corpse-hordes of the Dead King to the many mirrors of the Lady Blue; but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim will exert its power.

In the end it’s win or die.


My review of book 2 in The Red Queen’s War, The Liar’s Key canbe found here: The Liar’s Key.


Review:

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


The Wheel of Osheim is the third book in the Red Queen’s War and after countless miles, adventures, shenanigans and escapades for Jalan and Snorri and pages for us the readers it brings the trilogy to a close in epic style. Without spoiling the story, the main story arcs and plot line are all nicely settled and tied up and for me as a reader I felt this was a great ending to the tale of Jalan and Snorri and a fitting end to what is a stunning trilogy.

The world building and character development are both of an excellent standard which let’s be honest we have all come to expect from a Mark Lawrence book and again, thankfully he doesn’t disappoint us. While we all know the Broken Empire from previous books Lawrence continues to add extra detail and history to it, even when revisiting old places and we also find out more about the builders and there machines. The characters are all well thought out and compelling, from are main protagonists in Jalan and Snorri through to smaller secondary characters like Garyus, the Red Queen herself, Kara and Hennen to name a few.

For me, one of the main things I look for in a fantasy book/series is, do I care about the characters and their fate? If the answer is No, then no matter how good that book/series is, it’s still just a book and something you read. Whereas if you actually care about the characters and their fate you become emotionally involved in the story and attached to the characters. If you didn’t care about Jalan and Snorri would you really be bothered if the Wheel of Osheim cracked the world? No, for most of us we wouldn’t. Luckily, you really do care about Jalan, Snorri, Kara and Hennen as they strive towards the Wheel of Osheim and deciding the fate of the world and that’s why we keep turning the pages as we need to know and care how it ends.

Snorri has always been Snorri, from Prince of Fools through to The Wheel of Osheim, a tortured, courageous, heroic Viking warrior who stands for honour and would gladly put his life on the line to save his friends for no reason or reward other than it’s the right thing to do. He grows and develops in this book like he has throughout the trilogy but underneath it all he’s still that same Viking we first met many, many pages ago back at the beginning of Prince of Fools and that’s not a bad thing (I think he’s an awesome character) as we like him for who he is, simply a hulking heroic Viking who likes hitting things with his axe!

Compared to Snorri, Jalan is a far more complex character, if Snorri is genuine and honest then Jalan is morally ambiguous. At the beginning Jalan was a cowardly, womanising, selfish Prince and while technically he could still be described as such (just with less opportunity to practice his vices) now at the end of the journey he’s far more and really is a deep multi dimensional character. Right upto the end of the book your never quite sure what he’ll do when faced with dangerous situations, whether he’ll choose the selfish or the selfless option and until he’s decided himself, your left wondering, will he do the right thing or simply the right thing to save his own skin. While you could never describe Jalan as a hero, during his exploits he does show the occasional heroic trait and you can see that some of Snorri’s attributes have actually rubbed off on him making him a far better person. With all his fears and flaws or maybe because of them your left with a very relatable human character who you can’t help but get behind and like, rooting for him to prove himself, come through and do the right thing. Though with Jalan even when he does the selfish thing, the way Mark Lawrence writes him with his internal monologue and thoughts lots of us would still probably side with him and hey, whilst most of us would like to say that we’re more like Snorri, even if we don’t want to admit it, I’m betting there’s a bit of Jalan in plenty of us to!

The banter and interplay between Jalan and Snorri has always been one of my favourite parts of the trilogy, aside from the fact their bickering and differing opinions add humour to the books, it’s also seeing their relationship grow into mutual friendship rather than simple travelling companions thrown together by fate. They are polar opposites of each other, separately they are the coward and the hero but put them together and they form a tremendous double act and partnership as they play of each other so well with naturally entertaining banter and camaraderie.

There’s a quote on the back of the book by Robin Hobb (if you haven’t read any of her books then you really should) saying: ‘There are special rewards in store here for readers of The Broken Empire series. Highly recommended’. I found that to be very true as there’s little tidbits and a chance meeting that tie in perfectly with The Broken Empire trilogy that add an extra touch and depth to the Wheel of Osheim. You don’t need to have read The Broken Empire trilogy to enjoy this book, you just get some little extra treats if you have.

I really enjoyed this book from the first page all the way through to the last, Lawrence writes with a poetic yet vivid and at times brutal style that even with the high page count you find no wasted words. The book starts off slowly but soon picks up steam as your pushed toward the climactic conclusion and aftermath giving us a wild ride along the way. The slower start works well, giving time to further developing the characters and the story before pulling you towards the end. The book is a perfectly paced compulsive read, the 640 pages just fly by in a blur of action, story telling and humour and even when the pace slows to allow thought, contemplation and emotion into the story being told you still find yourself drawn into the book and are compelled to read that old adage of ‘just one more page’.

In my review of The Liar’s Key I wrote that Mark Lawrence had done himself proud with that book, well……The Wheel of Osheim far eclipses that as I feel this is his best book to date. To end the trilogy Mark Lawrence has crafted an outstandingly complex and engrossing book and now that it’s over I can write that just like The Broken Empire trilogy before it, with The Red Queen’s War Mark Lawrence has created yet another fantastic fantasy series that fully deserves to be added to any and every best of fantasy series list out there for many years to come.

A stunning conclusion, highly recommended!


On a side note, firstly apologies as this has nothing to do with the actual review but after finishing The Wheel of Osheim it got me thinking that so far it really has been a cracking good year for fantasy books. From those I’ve read we’ve already had great books from Marc Turner, Sebastian de Castell, Tom Lloyd, Joe Abercrombie (reviews for all these books can also be found on my blog) and now we add Mark Lawrence to that list finishing off his Red Queen’s War trilogy in quality fashion and we’re only in May. Not even half the year gone by and we have many more still to come! Marc Turner’s next book is due out, Luke Scull will finish off his Grim Company trilogy, AJ Smith finishes off his Long War series, John Gwynne will also finish his The Faithful and The Fallen series and add to those a new book in a new series from Anthony Ryan, the next Shadow Campaigns book by Django Wexler and finally the next installment in Miles Cameron’s excellent Traitor Son Cycle series all to look forward to later in the year. With that being wrote, I do think it’s a damn good time to be a fantasy fan!


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16 thoughts on “The Wheel of Osheim Book Review

  1. Ah I’ve been meaning to pick up Mark Lawrence for ages now- I think this series sounds like an excellent place to start! Especially since I love epic conclusions. And I wholeheartedly agree with you about how characterisation has to take centre stage in fantasy- it doesn’t matter how cool the concept or the world is, without the characters I won’t be interested. This sounds like it has that! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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