Five Dark Fates (Three Dark Crowns #4) by Kendare Blake

This is the end of the series and what a strange and terrific end it is for the triplet queens of Fennbirn, doomed to fight each other to the death for a crown that not all of them will want. As this final entry opens, Arsinoe is attempting to bring Jules back to sanity, only to discover that Mirabella has fled the rebel camp for the Queen Crowned Katharine’s side. The extremely annoying Emilia insists that Mirabella is a traitor. Little does she know that Mirabella is more concerned with figuring out what’s wrong with Katharine than in gaining power for anyone, least of all herself. Mirabella, Arsinoe and Katharine are, in fact, all in agreement about their preferred outcome, but the island has other ideas, and many will die before a new dawn may rise over their beloved Fennbirn.

So, the good: the queens went out the way they wanted, more or less. I cried buckets at each devastating sacrifice. I also enjoyed Kendare Blake’s interrogation of monarchy and ritual and meaning, and her court politics are, as always, outstanding. I also greatly enjoyed her depiction of all the complexities of love.

The less good: how the aftermath was dealt with. I do not for one second believe that after all that, invading ships from the mainland wouldn’t overrun Fennbirn in a matter of months. I’m still not entirely sure what structure of government was left, since no one wants to govern and the Goddess seems to have basically shrugged and said “eh, well, at least my experiment worked for a few centuries.”

I think that’s pretty much my brain demanding more stories in this universe from Ms Blake, tho. Fennbirn is a fascinating place peopled by strong personalities, and I don’t feel that Five Dark Fates ended at a tidy place for any of Ms Blake’s creations, besides the three queens. This book goes by at a gallop, and some things, like the portent of the old temple and the whole deal with the Legion curse, fall to the wayside, which would be fine if this weren’t the final book. So… hopefully, this isn’t the final book? It would feel like something of a disservice to the fallen queens and all who came before them if it were.

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