THE TALON OF THE HAWK is the riveting conclusion to The Twelve Kingdoms series. The great cover–you can really believe that’s Ursula–needs mention, too.
Ursula knew it was her inability to bring her sister Ami and her young son to Ordnung, among other mistakes, that has made her fallen out of favor with her father, the High King. All her life she has tried to please him, being the son he never had, and she still fell short. And she knew this for sure when he hired mercenary guards to man the castle walls. And it didn’t help when she felt an attraction to the infuriating Dasnarian Captain Harlan…
First of all, I have to applaud Jeffe Kennedy for giving us three distinctive heroines and heroes in the series. First, there’s Andi (book 1, The Mark of the Tala)–mysterious, magical, and perfect for Rayfe, the mysterious, intriguing king of the Tala. Then, there’s Ami (book 2, The Tears of the Rose)–self-centered and vain, though she was much better at the end of the book, and her hero Ash, mysterious, too, but not in the nice way that Rayfe was mysterious. My beef in their story is that we didn’t learn much about Ash; he was a bit two-dimensional. Finally, we have Ursula–strong and independent and hiding a secret so deep it’s only Harlan who was able to get her to confide in him. And how different was Harlan from the other two? Too different. Harlan is very open, and he gave his all–body, heart and soul to Ursula, to the point that I felt Ursula really didn’t deserve him.
Ursula is a vast improvement over Ami that it’s very refreshing to read her story. I found the start of the story to be a bit slow, but once she and Harlan started interacting, the story became interesting from there. She’s an interesting heroine–strong yet prickly, unable to trust easily, insecure and for all her independent ways, very dependent on the High King’s approval. Now that, I can’t understand. After all he’d done to her, I don’t understand why she didn’t want to kill him, but instead keep on currying his favor. This is the reason for the lowered rating, plus the presence of Illyria, which I found was not justified enough.
As to Ursula and Harlan, I felt she was in a much superior position than him, not because of rank, but more of the way Harlan always gave way to her, always the wronged party in her high-handed righteousness, etc. And that irks me no end. For example, I understand the final conflict between Ursula and Harlan; it’s to drive tension in the story, making it interesting for the readers. However, hasn’t there been enough of that? Over the course of the book and everything that happened between them, it is always Harlan giving and giving and giving. Couldn’t Ursula give for once? By the end, I felt Ursula still needed to prove to me that she was worthy of Harlan.
One scene of note: The time Ursula sang a lulllaby at Harlan’s request. That was nicely written and very poignant.
Series fans shouldn’t miss this final installment. While this is a standalone, perhaps new readers should start with book 1 to gain a better understanding of the series arc.
Rating: 4 stars
A HEAVY CROWN
Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.
Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other—that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…