War Storm by Victoria Aveyard is the final novel in the Red Queen series, and it did not let me down easy.
If you missed them, here are my recaps and reviews of the other Red Queen books:
- Red Queen (Red Queen #1)
- Glass Sword (Red Queen #2)
- King’s Cage (Red Queen #3)
- Broken Throne (Red Queen #4.5)
At the time I’m writing this, it’s been almost a week since I finished War Storm, and I still have aaaaaall the feels. Or rather, I just don’t know how I feel (or how I should feel).
This book was a rollercoaster, and I’ll get into why. But first, let’s go over how book three ended.
Quick recap of King’s Cage ending
The epilogue of King’s Cage ends with an exchange between Mare and Cal. They’ve both been blindsided by his grandmother Anabel’s scheme to get him on the throne following their tough win against Maven and the Lakelanders in Corvium. Mare is angry and hurt, thinking Cal knew he would be put back on the throne and didn’t tell her, but Cal—bless his soul—never thought the option was still on the table since it’s no secret he’s been backing the Scarlet Guard, and many believe he murdered his own father.
Mare and Cal are each stubborn, asking the other to choose them and their cause, but neither are able to step away from their vision for a better future for everyone. The exchange went like this:
Cal: Without you, I have no one. I am alone. I have nothing left. Don’t leave me alone.
Mare: You aren’t alone. You have your crown.
Cal proceeds to all but get on his knees and beg Mare to stay with him, and then Mare just turns her back on him and walks away.
The final scene is Mare, Farley, and Premier Davidson deciding that they’re going to let the Rift, Norta, and the Lakelands fight it out, and then handle the scraps from there. “Divide and conquer” in Mare’s words. Let them kill each other.
Much of the fourth book is Mare avoiding and resisting Cal’s attention while simultaneously driving him insane, and Maven too.
Mare Barrow is so wickedly talented when it comes to upsetting Calore men. At this point, I wonder if she plans it. Lies awake at night and schemes on how best to confuse Maven or distract Cal.
War Storm summary (spoilers!)
I had major Game of Thrones vibes while reading War Storm by Victoria Aveyard. Everyone is vying for a throne—everyone who’s Silver, anyway—and those who aren’t are fighting for a different kind of power and independence. They’re fighting for a republic. In their eyes, Reds and Silvers can never share equity in a society where rulership is determined by bloodright. They want a society run by elected officials chosen by its people. It’s very much like the final episode of GoT that way.
But War Storm begins where King’s Cage left off. Mare is reeling from Cal’s decision to accept the crown and continues to work with Premier Davidson and the Scarlet Guard to achieve their new world. Ultimately, this means she will have to betray Cal. One of the first tasks in achieving this new world is to visit Montfort with Farley, Davidson, Evangeline, Kilorn, and Cal (Mare also gets to reunite with her family). Not only do they gain a sense of the republic—seeing the legend firsthand—but Mare and company can seek Montfort’s aid in going to war against Maven and his Lakeland alliance.
As expected, Maven will stop at nothing to get Mare back and make his brother suffer. And as far as schemes and strategy are concerned, we know he’s quite resourceful in that sense. While in Montfort, Maven, Iris, and others infiltrate the mountain nation, set a trap for Mare and the others, then Iris steals back the young Piedmont prince and princess who Montfort had been holding captive.
Maven and Iris: a match made in hell
While Mare, Evangeline, Cal, and the rest are getting wrecked by a herd of bison (under the control of an animosi at Maven’s behest), Norta (i.e., Iris) is securing a Piedmont alliance. We later find out Iris has plans of her own. She personally secures the young Piedmont heirs to gain favor with Bracken. It seems Iris and her mother want all of Norta for themselves and plot to take down Maven.
And it isn’t like Maven is oblivious to this fact. He can read people like a book, and he has known even since before the betrothal that the Lakelanders would use the marriage to try and gain control of Norta in time. We get to read a few chapters from Iris’s perspective, and we see that she is just as conniving and eager to please her mother as the rest. Honestly, there are so many characters I loathe in this series and hers is another name on the list. Another Silver set on having her kingdom while oppressing the Reds within its walls.
Following the events in Montfort, Maven now has Norta, the Lakelands, and the Rift. Mare has the Scarlet Guard and Montfort. The good guys then decide they need to gain a strong foothold in Norta to destabilize Maven. The target: Harbor Bay and its base, Fort Patriot.
Trouble at Harbor Bay
Lots of crazy scenes happen at the battle of Harbor Bay. Early on during the assault, farther inland, Kilorn almost dies but their side does win the initial skirmish there. A healer is able to save his life and put him back together. But farther out, on the actual harbor, Iris herself shows up with the mighty strength of her Lakeland nymphs and uses her own immensely powerful abilities to control the sea.
Lots of people die. A number of Magnetrons belonging to Evangeline’s house are drowned, the entire fort is submerged in water and rendered useless, and Cal himself faces off with Iris atop the rolling sea.
Quick callout: being a burner, Cal is deathly afraid of water. He puts up a good fight but ultimately, Iris drowns him before the battle comes to a standstill between the two opposing sides.
Cal is dead only briefly until a healer brings him back. The situation brings Mare and Cal together again—in a physical sense—both of them understanding that his near-death experience changes none of the challenges between them.
Following the stalemate, Cal sends a message to Maven to meet at a neutral location to discuss the terms of a temporary treaty or Maven’s surrender. Maven agrees, having no plans to surrender. Iris, her mother, Anabel, and Julian, end the war by trading Maven’s life for the two responsible for Iris’s father’s death. Evangeline’s father is part of that deal.
How does War Storm end?
Everyone meets on an island to discuss the terms of surrender, but as expected, Maven refuses. As he’s walking away, the Lakeland queen and Iris detain him and turn him over to Cal’s side. Cal is completely stunned and horrified that his grandmother and uncle made a deal for his brother’s life. Now Cal is expected to sentence Maven to death (and to be the one to do the deed, too).
Long story short, Cal doesn’t have the heart to kill his brother and locks him away in a nice room at the palace while he figures out what to do, but Premier Davidson and the SG have other plans. They abduct Maven, take Mare, and all go to Montfort.
Without the Scarlet Guard or Montfort’s support, Cal is in a precarious position with his dwindling number of supporters. Iris and her mother are prepping their armies to invade Cal’s newly won capital of Archeon. And Mare and the rest are planning to fight whoever is left after the Lakelands go to war with Norta—so probably the Lakelands.
Montfort and the Scarlet Guard use Maven to funnel their forces into Archeon, but Maven escapes during all the chaos. While Archeon is being ripped apart by Lakeland forces, Cal finally wises up and realizes he doesn’t want to be king, and he joins sides with Mare. So while he fights back Iris’s forces, Mare goes off to track down Maven.
In a heartbreakingly brutal scene, she kills Maven and blacks out from her own injuries. She then wakes up to find that her side has beaten the Lakelands, and that Maven truly is dead.
Cal dissolves the Nortan throne, working with Montfort to turn it into a republic, and Mare leaves Cal and Norta to go figure herself out.
Book review: War Storm by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #4)
I ended up giving War Storm by Victoria Aveyard five stars on Goodreads. I’m not a fan of giving half stars, but I did go with the higher rating in this instance. I’ll give credit where it’s due… even if I don’t like the ending.
The first part of the book dragged on. It was mostly being stuck in Mare’s head as she reflects on her feelings of hurt and betrayal at Cal’s choice to accept the crown rather than join her cause.
If I’m being honest, Mare wasn’t my absolute favorite protagonist ever… I feel like a lot of her headaches and heartburn could’ve been fixed a long time ago by just having a reasonable conversation with Cal, without letting her ego get in the way of things. Him, too.
I also found myself blaming Mare for what happened with Maven. His death was incredibly disappointing and one of the biggest tragedies to me. I honest to god wanted him to have a redemption arc—to atone for the terrible things he did, but he never had the chance. Mare’s constant reaction to him, talking to him and treating him like a monster, eventually made him believe it.
Elara was the one to mold and break him, but I think Mare was the one to completely incinerate the pieces. In the earlier books, Maven would tell Mare she was the only one who made him feel like he wasn’t empty, like he had a soul, and then she just goes off and tells him that he’s a shadow, a monster, that he’ll never measure up to his brother, and that he is nothing but emptiness. To say reading those scenes was painful would be an understatement.
Team Maven forever
I thought I was pissed after what happened with the Darkling in Shadow and Bone, but Maven’s ending completely eclipses that. I guess his one redeeming act was leading Mare and the others into Archeon right before Iris and her forces flooded the tunnels.
I keep wondering what would’ve happened if he had escaped the palace, if Mare hadn’t found him. The books tried to say his continued existence would be a threat to Cal, but I just couldn’t buy it. Especially with the kingdom of Norta’s dissolution.
And what about all the talk of trying to “fix” him? It almost seemed like maybe Jon or Julian was supposed to somehow gain or share some knowledge of how this could be possible… and then that subplot just didn’t happen. That maybe there was a newblood whisper somewhere who would be powerful enough to undo the things Elara had done to him. Nope!
Instead, someone makes the comment that perhaps it’s best for the world if such a person does not exist. I just don’t buy it.
Lastly, Cal’s constant indecision and having others make the tough choices for him was infuriating to me. This includes letting Mare kill Maven. If Maven had to die, then it should have been by his brother’s hand. That would’ve been a satisfactory arc for Cal in my opinion.
Once again, someone carries out the tough part for him. Sigh. At least Maven never shied away from that responsibility. But I guess that’s because Elara supposedly took away all fear from him.
So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my summary and review of War Storm by Victoria Aveyard.
Read on for some of the most memorable quotes I highlighted while reading through the fourth Red Queen book.
War Storm quotes
- I love you is a promise we both made, and we both broke. It should mean I choose you above all else. I want you more. I need you always. I cannot live without you. I will do anything to keep our lives from parting.
- I am less than his crown, and he is less than my cause.
- He loved the crown before he loved me, whether he knows it or not.
- The world we want to build has to outlive us.
- As much as I don’t want to, I suppose I have to accept the fate he foretold. To rise. And rise alone.
- So I sit, and I listen, and I watch. And through it all, I feel his eyes.
- That boy is all sharp edges and emptiness. There is no soul to him.
- His presence is a pocket of time, a narrow place where we can exist without consequence. Nothing before, nothing after.
- You forged this crown yourself—now wear it. Or don’t.
- You think I waste my spies on tracking your emotions, Mare? No, my darling, I just know you better than anyone else.
- I thought of you before the end.
- That’s enough for me. A better good-bye than I deserve.
And what do I deserve, Maven?
Better than we ever gave you.
- Everyone is someone else’s pawn, Mare, whether we know it or not.
- But mostly I feel a deep ache. Hunger for her. Sorrow. Regret. My mother had her demons, just like the rest of us. Her own pains that began long before she became a queen. Before my father married her and put a target on her back.
What did you think about the ending to War Storm by Victoria Aveyard? Comment below if there’s anything you wish would have happened differently!
Looking for more?
I’m currently halfway through Broken Throne, which is a collection of short stories and novellas in the Red Queen world. Some act as prequels to some of the events and histories that take place across the four novels while the others, I’m told, give a little more closure to the series. I’m really curious to see what that is.
Check back next week for my write up of Broken Throne.