Tania’s adventures in the realm of Faerie continue with The Sorcerer King (or The Seventh Daughter in some countries), the third installment in the Faerie Path series. I was actually pretty excited to reread this one, because I remember exactly where I was when I read this book’s climax the first time. I was at my desk in first-period geometry sophomore year, right before class began. And the minute the teacher called for class to begin…someone died. In the book, not the class, I mean. Needless to say, I thought way more about the fate of a faraway magical world than geometrical proofs that day.
Princess Tania and her sisters have successfully brought Queen Titania back to Faerie from her unintended exile. But the Sorcerer King of Lyonesse, the deadliest enemy to Faerie, has taken King Oberon and imprisoned him on a distant island. The King plans to conquer not only Faerie, but the Mortal World as well. To save both realms, Tania and her sisters must travel across Faerie in order to reach Oberon, without alerting the Sorcerer King and his many enemies to their whereabouts.
If the first two books of The Faerie Path were about establishing characters and the stakes, then this installment is all about an adventure. We are no longer sequestered in the Royal Palace or the Mortal World. The world building of Faerie continues to be intriguing, because you don’t stay in one place for very long. In fact, the book feels kind of episodic, in that Tania and her allies move quickly from one place to the next. That’s not to say the pace is too fast. In fact, we spend just enough time in each location to appreciate its importance to Faerie before leaving it for the next one.
As is befitting of a sequel to a sequel, the stakes continue to rise, this time with the whole of Faerie at stake. And naturally, the outcome of this adventure hinges on Tania’s shoulders. Not unreasonably, she is pretty scared and it’s hard for her to catch a break. Luckily, you are with her the whole time, and you want to see Tania succeed.
What makes the tension work is that Tania’s Faerie family is spread all across Faerie: some of Tania’s sisters are hiding with Titania with only a magic spell to hide them, and others are making a tense trek to deliver Oberon to Titania, where they must combine their powers to defeat the Sorcerer King.
If there’s an epic quest, it naturally culminates in a big battle scene. It’s not the most gripping battle scene I’ve ever read, but it does have some legitimate tension. That’s because this is where we see some important characters die, which catches us off. But we still get the typical fantasy battle surprise where all hope seems lost, and suddenly, some heroes we’ve missed make an unexpected return to turn the tides. I admit, that trope still left me cheering for their victory.
In all the excellent tension and adventure, there is a hiccup or two.
In the first book, one of Tania’s sisters betrayed the Royal Family out of blind love for the main antagonist. This sister makes a sudden, and quite convenient turnaround, when our heroes need her. Now that sounds like the beginning of a redemption arc, which I always like to read.
And yet, in the middle of battle, even after this sister has sworn her loyalty to the Royal Family, she comes to the main antagonist’s aid, still blindly in love with him. It’s not clear whether she is under a spell, or still actually siding with him, so the beginning of this arc feels muddled.
Luckily, the book ends on a pretty solid note. Since this book focuses on an epic adventure, Tania’s decision about which world, Faerie or Mortal, she will stay in is put on the back burner. She does come closer to an answer by this time, so we are not left with a dangling arc to finish up in the next book.
Instead of Tania continuing to wonder which world she will choose, she decides to explore more of Faerie—more about the people she met on her adventure. That feels like a natural arc to explore next, and I like how the story moves forward through each book. I’ve read a few series where story arcs dangle for far too long, so at least this series knows how to keep the action moving quickly and naturally.
This book officially marks the halfway point of the Faerie Path series, and there is more adventure to be had. So, if you’ll pardon me, I’m off to Faerie to follow Tania and her sisters on their next adventure through the Immortal Realm.