The Vacant Throne by Joshua Palmatier

Book 3 of The Throne of Amenkor
Published by DAW
ISBN 978-07564-0462-8 / 978-0-7564-0531-1
January 2008 Hardcover 544 Pages / January 2009 Paperback 480 pages
Author Web site:
Sample Excerpt from The Vacant Throne:

The ultimate judgment of a trilogy (or any series) can often be rendered upon it conclusion, the third and/or final book of the series. So much promise is anticipated through the first volume, increased by the second volume and revealed in the trilogy. In Joshua’s case, I’m pleased to say he finished quite strongly with The Vacant Throne.

After the devastating events at the conclusion of The Cracked Throne, Varis and her advisors make plans to attack the Chorl, rather than remain on the defensive and wait for them to come back. For the first time in the trilogy, Palmatier explores the world beyond the shores of Amenkor and what we see is just a glance at a larger world at play. The throne is no longer locking Varis into Amenkor and she is part of the crew who set sail in search of allies. Not all of these people are willing to help Varis and Amenkor in fighting the Chorl, heightening the tension in the novel. Their main goal; however, is to reach Venitte, where The Stone Throne, a sister throne to the Skewed Throne is rumored to exist with much of the same capabilities.

Palmatier employed a narrative technique in The Vacant Throne that is both something new and also hearkens back to The Skewed Throne. As in that novel, chapters alternate from two points of view. However, while one of those POVs is Varis, the other is from a personality/soul from within the Skewed Throne itself recounting the creation of the Throne and the very first Chorl attack. I’m often a fan of such storytelling techniques and I think Palmatier utilized it very well and judiciously.

Throughout the course of the trilogy, Palmatier strikes balances within Varis, her frank and open nature balances with the inner turmoil she feels concerning over her most staunch supporters, like Erick (the assassin who saved her from the Dredge) and William (Borund’s assistant and potential romantic interest). Because of this, Varis seems all the more human and believable. These relationships are not without their complications. Erick was seriously injured during the Chorl attack in The Cracked Throne and part of Varis’s impetus in sailing to foreign shores is to heal Erick after a very emotional scene where she fails in her own attempt at healing his wounds. Varis’s relationship with William is complicated by a new potential romantic interest for Varis from Venitte. Here again Palmatier strikes a balance within Varis – she wants to resolve her personal struggles along with those of her city-nation. Conveniently enough, the solution to all those problems lie in one place.

I got the sense that the trilogy truly worked in three acts: (I) The Skewed Throne introduced us to Varis; (II) The Cracked Throne was about Varis coming to grips with her role as rule; and (III) The Vacant Throne offers a glimpse of the world at large. It is a solid progression of storytelling and is very effective at both revealing the full picture of Palmatier’s world and his evolution as a writer.

Although he brings closure to this particular storyline, I think The Vacant Throne hints at a world rife for more stories. There’s more to learn about the Chorl, the thrones and the broad landscape we, as readers, have only glimpsed. The Vacant Throne succeeds pretty well as a final book in a trilogy and the trilogy as a whole is very enjoyable. With the three volumes now complete, I recommend all of them.

© 2009 Rob H. Bedford

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