The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence is the third and final book in his Red Queen’s War trilogy. It continues the story of Jalan Kendeth as he continues to follow the path upon which fate has set him.
The Red Queen’s War trilogy is set in the same world as, and dovetails with, Lawrence’s earlier Broken Empire trilogy. In some ways that is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because the world in which the trilogies are set is awesome. It’s set in our world in the future, millennia after a nuclear war (the Day of A Thousand Suns) decimated the world and let magic in for the survivors. Some remnants of our world survive, but the current inhabitants have no cultural knowledge or background of them. So plastic shop dummies (I knew those things could survive nuclear attacks) confuse the heck out of them! This leads to one of the funniest moments in Wheel of Osheim involving an “iron pineapple.” You’ll just have to read it to find out what I’m talking about.
It is a blessing because the protagonists of both series, Jorg and Jalan, are on separate quests to discover more about the Builders (aka us) and to prevent the destruction of the world. The knowledge they obtain on their separate journeys adds up to more than the sum of its parts and creates an ever more vivid picture of the Builders and the Day of A Thousand Suns. I suspect I’ll have to reread Broken Empire with the new knowledge I have from Red Queen’s War.
It is also a joy to have cameos from characters from Broken Empire. Particularly this final instalment adds so much more to their stories.
On the negative side, it is made clear that Wheel of Osheim takes place just prior to Emperor of Thorns – Jalan meets Jorg on his way to the Congression which takes place in Emperor. Knowing how Emperor ends is a clear indication of how Wheel doesn’t wrap up. This robs Wheel somewhat of its narrative tension as it’s pretty clear what action Jalan chooses in the end, despite the dramatic chapter break.
I will say thought, it’s not necessary to read Broken Empire to enjoy Red Queen’s War. Indeed, Red Queen’s War is more young adult than Broken Empire which is definitely much, much darker in tone. That is something to bear in mind if you are thinking of checking out Jorg’s story.
So onto Wheel of Osheim.
What I liked
The world. As I mentioned above, I adore the world Lawrence has created. I was completely fascinated by the truth behind the Wheel. The concept that it can make whatever your imagination creates a reality and the trick of Snorri’s stories worked very very well.
The narration. Tim Gerard Reynolds did the honours for Wheel of Time. Jalan as a character can be rather snarky and at times indignant and this came across beautifully in the narration. Many times I smiled or even laughed at Reynolds’ interpretation of Jalan’s indignation. Very well done.
What I didn’t like
The pacing. At times I felt it was a little slow.
I really enjoyed Wheel of Osheim and gave it four stars out of five.