Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Queens of Fennbirn were two books I was super excited to read, because both were by authors I already loved. I ended up loving one, but being slightly disappointed by the other, so read on to find out more!
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
‘Sisters in battle, I am shield and blade to you. As I breathe, your enemies will know no sanctuary. While I live, your cause is mine.’
Diana, Princess of the Amazons, is desperate to prove herself to her sisters, all of whom have past lives as famous warriors. However, when an opportunity to be truly heroic presents itself, Diana must break all the laws of her people in order to take it, by saving the life of a mortal girl, and bringing her to their sacred island. But Alia Kernalis is no ordinary mortal girl: she is a descendant of Helen Troy, and a Warbringer, and therefore has a huge target on her back. Diana must help her neutralise the Warbringer line once and for all, setting out on a heroic quest any of her sisters would be proud of.
Can Leigh Bardugo do any wrong? Seriously? I was really interested in these DC Icons books (even though I’m much more familiar with Marvel’s characters) because I loved the concept of popular authors retelling superhero stories, but I was slightly nervous at the same time. I always love Leigh Bardugo’s books, so I was apprehensive about reading one that wasn’t her own original story, and was part of a series written by other authors.
However, I needn’t have worried. Leigh Bardugo certainly brought her own unique magic to the Wonder Woman story, and put her own stamp on it. Complete with the hilarious character banter and action packed story that I loved so much in Six of Crows, this was an incredible retelling of Wonder Woman’s origins.
It was definitely the characters and their relationships to each other that really made this book great though in my opinion. Whilst Diana is incredibly strong and tough (because, you know…she’s Wonder Woman!), she also comes across as incredibly vulnerable and insecure, so she’s relatable, despite being superhuman. I also love the way in which her friendship with Alia grows from them initially being completely baffled by the other one, to them totally understanding each other.
I also liked the way the book moves into having more of an ensemble cast with Nim, Jason and Theo joining them as they set out on their quest. The pace was pretty fast moving from the point where they set out to Greece onwards, but Bardugo still made time for some wonderful little character moments.
This book also managed to really surprise me at the end…which I obviously don’t want to talk about in case it spoils it for anyone. But I really didn’t see it coming!
Overall, this really was a wonderful book. I was not overly familiar with the Wonder Woman story before this (other than knowing she was an Amazonian woman with a lasso!), so I can’t say how true to the character Bardugo’s Diana was, but I really loved her as a character, and was gripped by the story. I’m definitely interested to read the other DC Icons books after this, although I’ve heard the Batman one isn’t as good? I’m excited for Sarah J. Maas’ Catwoman though!
Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake
‘”I did it,” Camille said as her eyes began to closer. “I survived. And now my reign is over.”‘
Queens of Fennbirn includes two novellas set in the Three Dark Crowns universe: The Young Queens, which tells the story of Mirabella, Katharine and Arsinoe when they were young, and The Oracle Queen, about the legendary queen Elsabet, who is the reason Sight queens have been drowned at birth for hundreds of years since her ill-fated reign.
The Young Queens fills in the gap between the start of the first Three Dark Crowns, by relating the three queens childhood… Was it interesting or necessary? In my opinion, not really.
It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the story or anything, but I just wasn’t overly excited by it. It related events that we already knew from the main series happened (such as Arsinoe and Katharine being swapped, and the fact that Mirabella remembers her sisters), and I don’t feel like it really brought anything new to the table.
I was also disappointed with The Oracle Queen, as I was really interested to find out more about the character of Elsabet (as she is mentioned in the main series as a queen who was driven mad by her power of Sight), and felt like her story was something of a let down.
Rather than the interesting story of a mad Queen and her powers, I felt like this was quite dull and the ‘twist’ that she wasn’t actually mad, but was framed was actually more of a let down. I wanted to see a complicated and conflicted character struggling with the dilemmas posed by knowing the future, and that wasn’t what I got.
So overall, whilst I didn’t hate this book, it didn’t really live up to my expectations. It gave a bit more background to the characters of the main series, and some of he history of Fennbirn, but I certainly wouldn’t describe these novellas as ‘must-reads’.
So have you read either of these books, or do you intend to? What did you think?