After giving spoiler free reviews of each book in the Red Queen series I feel as though there are some things I would like to say about the series as a whole. Today, I am giving a full Red Queen series review with spoilers.
That’s right, if you have not read the Red Queen series this post will contain a lot of spoilers so you might want to skip reading it until you are finished with the series.
Below are links to my spoiler free reviews of each book:
Red Queen Series Review
The Red Queen series follows the story of Mare Barrow as she deals with a classist society that makes those with silver blood elite and those with red blood not. Silvers have deadly powers and they aren’t afraid to use them to rule with a sometimes deadly fist.
When Mare is discovered to have the power of lightning flowing through her red blood while working in the palace of silvers an entire story needs to be made quickly. The King and Queen immediately produce a story that she is a long lost descendant of a dead silver family.
Mare must learn to control her powers, navigate the deception at the palace, and help a growing rebellion that seeks equality for Reds.
I love that the book tackles classist problems as well as the racist problems that come from differences we can’t control. The story starts off strong and sucks you in. Unfortunately for a book I ranked highly in the beginning by the ending I was left disappointed.
Victoria Aveyard is a young adult fantasy author who lives in Los Angeles. She is fantastic at world building which always ranked high in my reviews of the book. Even though character development suffered in the last book she did have some pretty fantastic character development in the first three books.
This being the first series written by Victoria Aveyard I do believe she is likely to come into her own as an author and she will probably improve with time. So I’m still excited to read her new series, Realm Breaker.
Red Queen Review with Spoilers
In Red Queen we are introduced to the classist system of Silvers ruling over Reds, the kingdom of Norta, the royal family, Silvers, Reds, and a rebellion looking to tear down the current system.
From the beginning I always was team Cal. A prince who feels the weight of the crown heavily and knows he needs to please his family. He lost his mom, his step mom didn’t fill the role, and a father and uncle are all he has.
This isn’t to say I hated Maven, I thought he was nice in the beginning. I seriously saw a younger brother with an ambitious mother while he was grateful to not have to follow his fathers footsteps and that his older brother would take that role.
Evangeline and the Queen just absolutely rubbed me the wrong way. They both had ambition for something I felt neither of them were worthy of obtaining. Their egos, betrayal, and violence left me hating them.
Kilorn was the lovable best friend and while we didn’t see a lot of him in this book I was excited to see more. Lucas gave me the same feeling… I was extremely disappointed in his death, I was more so upset with Mare and Jacos being the cause of that.
In this first book I did not trust the King, Julian, or Farley. Both the King and Farley had me side eyeing their personal ambitions and if they would stop at nothing to achieve those ambitions.
For Julian though I didn’t trust him because it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. This eases in future books but during this book I was looking at him for a possible betrayal if he were to seek revenge for his sister Queen Coriane.
Now to the ending, the expertly planned betrayal of Mare and Cal just left be absolutely heartbroken. I trusted Maven, I thought he was on the Mares side. To see him finally reveal himself, shatter Mare, shatter his brother, and take on the full evil that he is.
I was done with Maven at this point and suddenly Julian went from shouldn’t be trusted, to one of the characters I loved. The battles, the rescue, and the ending with Cal and Mare was perfect. Despite the hurt they caused each other they now had a mutual cause.
Glass Sword Review with Spoilers
Glass Sword was all over the place. They start out on a train, head to a city that immediately gets destroyed, Mare’s brother is actually alive and New Blood like her, then they head to an island.
There Cal is arrested, the colonel demotes Farley (who is his daughter,) and it looks like Kilorn betrays Mare. It’s revealed that the colonel wishes to imprison New Bloods and Silvers. So naturally when Kilorn helps Mare and Cal escape a small rag tag team takes off to go find New Bloods to help them join the very rebellion where a leader wants to imprison people like them.
Kilorn irritates me, “I know you’ll never love me.” He’s playing the “I’ve been friendzoned card” and it just totally made me no longer care about Kilorn. Especially when he distances himself from Mare.
We see dead babies with what feels a lot like love notes from Maven. Mare still doesn’t know how to feel about Maven, the man killed a Red baby to send a message to her and she’s all, “I still care.” Cal I could understand, Maven is his brother. Mare? Maven has gone beyond just having some red flags and gone straight into mass murderer stalker mode, you’ve known him for a few months at best, and you are falling over yourself over this creep?
Then another city with a close encounter with Maven, one that quite frankly didn’t make any sense because he neutralized her power and branded her just to leave her there instead of taking Mare? Then they are off to a prison island where they can free Silver and New Bloods.
This is where we meet Cameron who annoys me just as much as Mare. Mare thinks she’s the next best thing since sliced bread, Cameron will stop at nothing to free her brother from conscription, which is exactly what Mare did in the first book. They basically force her to fight with them, which goes against the original intention of finding and recruiting the New Bloods.
Of course now that they have Cameron they force their way back to Corros. That battle left Elara, the queen, dead which had me cheering but we also lost Shade. We had him for one book, he was a dead brother that was actually alive, just to die at the end of this book. That was some treachery right there.
To make Shade’s death even more horrible, Farley is pregnant and it’s Shades. So now we have Farley leading a rebellion and pregnant with her dead lover’s baby. Though more on Farley and the pregnancy in the next book.
Cal is trying to play both sides of this rebellion and is upset with Silver death but doesn’t even see the Red deaths that are happening. Then gets mad at Mare when she basically points that out.
Now we have Montfort come into the picture as if there wasn’t enough going on, with promises of a land that is truly equal between Red, Silver, and New Blood.
Next, you have a broadcast that Mare records and the Scarlet Guard puts out where Mare puts the dead queen on display. Mare, did you think it wouldn’t cause a riot when Reds found out the truth and you revealed you killed Queen Elara?
Of course it was going to cause a riot. There are consequences to your actions; this is not new information. Mare had to deal with the consequences of her actions in the first book. Now she suddenly doesn’t know how to deal with the consequences, and loses control over her power.
Of course Maven is just waiting for that plane headed to the choke to fly overhead, and has magnetrons there to catch the ball of metal that’s been reshaped into a cage.
After spending the entire book talking about how she means more than everyone else she surrenders herself over to Maven to free Cal, Kilorn, and the others on the plane.
Maven agrees and takes her and that’s the end of the book.
While the story was action packed and kept you moving at a certain point there was so much going on, so many locations, so many people to keep track of, you couldn’t actually keep it straight.
Was it good? Yes. Will I reread this book? If I decided to reread the series I would have to just to see if I missed anything the first time around, because honestly I think I have missed things.
King’s Cage Review with Spoilers
King’s Cage starts off with Mare feeling the weight of silent stone while she is imprisoned by Maven. We also see that Jon, the seer from the previous book is inside the castle and he is how Maven knew where to find Mare and the others.
The last two books were from only Mare’s point of view and suddenly in this third book we start getting the point of view of other people. Cameron, Cal, and Evangeline.
Cal was an expected point of view since he’s still with the Scarlet Guard. Cameron even made sense up until you get to the next book where she doesn’t hardly appear (if at all I honestly can’t remember.)
The Scarlet Guard is planning to take over Corvium and they do so easily. Mind you Farley is pregnant and absolutely rocking the pregnant mom leader of the rebellion thing she’s got going on. She’s being a badass as usual and we love her for it.
Evangeline’s point of view came as a shock and quite frankly I hated it at first. While Evangeline grew on me a bit, adding her point of view along with her sexuality change left me feeling that this was all a bit forced for inclusion purposes.
I love a good LGBTQ+ character, however, when a character hasn’t even had so much as a hint of being LGBTQ+ and suddenly is, it feels forced. I wish we had gotten a hint or two in the first book about Evangeline because it wouldn’t feel so forced.
Maven is using Mare to send messages out to Norta that are fully propaganda and as the Scarlet Guard gets wind of them it causes issues within the Guard. My problem with this is, she is his prisoner, of course she has to say things in order to survive. The fact that the Scarlet Guard was all, “she’s turned,” didn’t make sense.
I will say, Victoria Aveyard did a fantastic job of giving us insight into the mind of Maven. Or at least what is left of that mind after his mother basically chopped it up and distorted everything. You suddenly understand why he is doing what he is doing, he’s still an evil incarnate, but you realize he was made this way.
The introduction of the Lakelands and Maven proposing to Princess Iris in order to secure an alliance with the Lakeland king really had me rolling my eyes. I saw it coming the moment we knew they were going to the Lakelands to try to make peace between the two lands.
The day of the wedding between Iris and Maven the Scarlet Guard along with New Bloods from Montfort attack. Evangeline promises to release Mare as long as Mare doesn’t kill her brother in revenge because Ptolemus killed Shade. Mare agrees and immediately joins the battle.
Cal and Mare find each other and the star crossed lovers unite. Let’s see how long that lasts for.
The battle takes out a lot, Maven and Iris escape, Evangeline escapes with her family, and Mare rejoins the Scarlet Guard in a new location.
House Samos (Evangeline’s Family) immediately starts planning their rule over their own kingdom. They must make alliances. Cal’s grandmother suddenly appears to help make those alliances come true.
When the Scarlet Guard gets word that Maven is going to attempt to take back Corvium from the Scarlet Guard, several in the guard travel there to defend it. New alliances to the Guard include the Samos family, at the workings of Cal’s grandmother. It’s revealed that it was her that helped to free Mare from Maven.
A big battle erupts at Corvium and the Scarlet Guard wins. The King of the Lakelands is killed during this battle, this means the Lakelands are going to play a very important role in the next book.
As the Scarlet Guard, House Samos, and other silvers sit to discuss the future of Norta it is revealed by Cal’s grandmother that Cal will be made King of Norta. Along with being the king he will marry Evangeline.
Cal agrees to this and Mare and Cal privately have it out. Cal was born and raised for that crown and a girl he met a few months ago and had one muddy fling with was not going to stop his ambition evidently. Meanwhile, Mare thinks he should have chosen her who couldn’t decide between him and his evil, killing everything in sight brother.
Farley and Davidson (the premier for Montfort) inform Mare that they are going to let the Silvers shred each other apart for power leading the way to freedom for the Reds.
Again a lot happened in this book but there were a LOT of slow scenes. This is where the series really starts to fall down for me. The constant combat planning just really slowed down this read to a point where I was scanning a lot of the time.
Still, because I needed to complete the story and I had hoped for some miracle of a decent ending I read the fourth and final book.
War Storm Review with Spoilers
We start off War Storm directly after the battle at Corvium. The council is trying to make plans for the next battle. In order to win over more help from Montfort Mare, Cal, Evangeline, Julian, Kilorn, Mare’s family, and Farley travel with Davidson to Montfort.
Meanwhile we now have a new point of view from Princess Iris of the Lakelands. There Maven is trying to gain more soldiers to end the Scarlet Guard but Iris and her mother have plans of their own to avenge the King’s death.
In order to win over Piedmont, Iris agrees to save Prince Braken’s children who have been captured by Montfort. It is clear that while Iris appears to be trying to win over Piedmont for Maven, she is actually doing this for the Lakelands.
While in Montfort the group has a dinner with Davidson and his husband which highlights the rules of marriage in Norta don’t allow for Evangeline to marry Elane. I love Davidson and his husband, however, still felt like the queer status of Evangeline was forced for inclusion from the last book.
Suddenly there is an attack somewhere in the mountains of Montfort and the group gears up to go find the Raider attack and defend the area they are attacking. What they don’t know is that the alarm is a distraction so Iris can sneak in to rescue the two children who were being held hostage and under the weight of silent stone.
This is where the book slows to a painfully long read. The next few chapters are loads of planning on attacks, trying to get prisoners who are trapped in the newly recaptured Piedmont base, and more planning in the next moves.
Cal believes they should take over Harbor Bay as a show of strength, while Mare believes attacking a tech town can remove necessary weapons from Maven’s use. So they plan a two part attack. A small group of people will go to a tech city, New Town (that was the name of the town) to disable the manufacturing for war efforts. The rest of the people will go to take over Harbor City.
Mare and her group manage to destroy New Town, while saving innocents. Kilorn is hurt during this attack but is taken to a skin healer just in time for him to be saved. Meanwhile, in Harbor Bay the fort gets completely flooded and they take some massive losses.
Mare immediately heads for Harbor Bay when she finds out things aren’t going so great there. Cal sends his brother a note asking for a meeting on an island off of Harbor Bay. Maven agrees to the meeting and Cal, Anabel (Cal’s grandmother,) Julian, Farley, Ptolemus, and Evangeline meet with Iris, her mother Cenra, Braken and Maven.
After Maven refuses surrender the red coalition is horrified to find out that Iris and her mother betrayed Maven, captured him, and turned him over to Cal in exchange for the man who murdered the King of the Lakelands.
Cal agrees and Maven is taken into custody. After Cal makes some decrees about Red’s receiving payment for their services Montfort prepares to leave, however they take Maven secretly with them.
While Cal struggles with the changes in laws in order to give Red’s more freedom, Mare is in Montfort. In an effort to clear her mind of the two men that haunt it she hikes up a mountain. There she runs into Jon the seer from the second and third book.
He explains that Cal cannot win a war against the Lakelands and he needs Montforts help to do it. Mare then fights to gain help from Montfort and the Lakelands as well as convinces Maven to show them the underground rails he used to get into cities.
As the Lakelanders start to invade Archeon, House Samos is torn apart as the children team up against the parents and with the help of Julien and Anabel. Evageline, Ptolemus, Wren (his lover) and Elane escape.
With the help of the Reds and through an epic battle scene as well as a reuniting of Mare and Cal (how many times is that going to happen?) Archeron is won and the Lakelanders retreat.
In the middle of the battle scene though Maven escaped and Mare has to go after him. In an anticlimactic sort of way, Mare finds Maven and after a fight in a room of silent stone Mare wins and kills Maven.
Once Mare is healed from a broken collarbone and a slice along her side she prepares to leave Norta. Mare leaves Cal believing they both need time to heal and figure out who they are. The book ends with Mare in Montfort with her family.
Look, Cal and Mare were became toxic for each other throughout the series and that was made very clear at the end of King’s Cage. I am absolutely fine with Mare choosing to leave Cal behind. She went from thief to princess or head figure of the rebellion in less than a year. She doesn’t know what she wants or who she is.
Unlike a lot of hopeless romantics out there I saw brilliance in the ending of their relationship. Now I have no idea what happens after this point because I’m not reading the Novellas. I am done with the Red Queen series and in my mind I have closure. With the exception of one question, why was it named Red Queen when we never got a Red Queen?
What I Didn’t Like About The Red Queen Series
The amount of battle planning and slow parts in the last two books really hurt the overall feeling of this series. It slowed down the book, it was predictable that things would consistently go wrong, I didn’t need all the battle planning just to have things go wrong. While I believe the author was trying to provide twists in the story, it just didn’t work out that way for me.
I did not like the constant bickering between Cal and Mare. They did not trust each other at all and that is not the basis for a healthy relationship. It was a good thing the book ended with them separating and I choose to believe they stayed apart and found people that were better for them elsewhere. I don’t care what the Novella says happened, I don’t know and I’m good with that.
The amount of locations and characters involved in this series was a bit too much for me. It was extremely hard to follow because during the slow parts of the book you were actually scanning because they were painfully slow.
While I typically don’t have issues with lots of characters or lots of locations due to the slowness this book had in battle planning it was hard to keep track because I kept scanning to get to parts that moved faster.
What I Loved About the Red Queen Series
Mare was flawed. She wasn’t this perfect 17 year old who would save the country. She was selfish, cruel, and had a mean streak to her. I enjoyed that because a main character having serious flaws is something we don’t often see.
I loved the setting of Norta and the premise of the series. Classism in society erupts on itself in order to give equality to all members of society. It’s a great premise. I think it could have been made easier to follow and have less combat planning but it was still good.
I loved Farley. At the end of this series Farley and Mare’s Family are still my favorite people and it’s a shame we didn’t get more of them within the series.
My Ratings For The Red Queen Series
Alright it’s time for ratings. As per usual I will not be giving just an overall ranking but I will rank different parts of the story.
World building gets a 4 out of 5. Mainly because when I look at the series as a whole I realize there is a lot of world building because too many new places are introduced into the story. It’s a little excessive at times and hard to keep up.
Character Development 3 out of 5. While I was appreciative of the character development in books 1, 2 and half of book 3, the fact that character development completely stopped was a downfall. Specifically how Mare just seemed to stop growing as a human until the very end of the series.
Spice ranking gets a 0 out of 5. The romance that was in this book was not good. We got one scene in King’s Cage where they evidently have sex in the mud. Ok that just seems unsanitary. Outside of that there was no heat between the characters. It was all ice.
Ending Ranking gets a 4 out of 5. I was actually pretty happy with the ending of this story. While I had hoped to know more about what Norta actually turned into, the fact that our hero couple has parted ways is a big plus. Like I said Cal and Mare are toxic for each other, they don’t trust each other, and are better off not being together.
Overall Ranking is a 3 out of 5. The story started out strong and I thought it was going to be a great series. However, I want to finish a series because I have to know what happens, not just because I want to complete it as a task. Reading the last one and a half books of this series was a task for me. So while there were still good parts, the ranking is a bit low for me.
Final Thoughts On The Red Queen Series
I will probably not re-read Red Queen because there are other books I am more interested in reading and will likely have more interesting books to read.
Will the Red Queen series prevent me from reading more from Victoria Aveyard? Probably not. Overall I liked the world building from Victoria, this was her first series and I think she’s likely to get better as time goes on. I will likely read her new series Realm Breaker at some point.
It was a decent series but I think a TV show would probably be better than the books in this case. So if Paramount actually makes a Red Queen series for streaming I might watch it.
Have you read the Red Queen series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite book boards.