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audiobooks Fantasy

Fate’s Ransom (Book Review) by Jeff Wheeler

I was lucky enough to be invited to read Fate’s Ranson, the final installment of The First Argentines series as an ARC.  While normally I would drop my TBR and jump on it, I knew what was coming … and I put this one off for a few weeks. 

My apologies to the publisher but even in a better state of existence the end absolutely ruined me!! Ruined! Not ugly crying but more the silent streaming tears of ruination kind!

I will do the review without spoilers, although this is absolutely not a standalone and you need the first three books in order to read the ending.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Fate’s Ransom
  • Series: The First Argentines, #4
  • Author: Jeff Wheeler
  • Publisher & Release: 47 North, January 4th 2022
  • Length: 455 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐   I think this is an amazing series for those who like clean fantasy, knights and battles, medieval settings, are looking for an intro to fantasy, a little magic and a world of intrigue

Here is the synopsis (taken from Amazon)

Betrayal, war, and the risks of loyalty collide in the epic conclusion of the First Argentines series by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Lady’s Ransom.

Ransom Barton has served three Argentine kings. The new successor to the throne is the ruthless Jon-Landon, a fallible strategist when it comes to war. After losing against the Occitanian armies, the king forces Ransom to bear the blame and removes him from the council. But Jon-Landon isn’t yet through with humbling the honorable knight of Ceredigion.

When a retaliatory battle succeeds, Jon-Landon invites Ransom back into his circle. Though Ransom’s Fountain magic is made stronger by his fealty, he’s once again forced to make a terrible choice. And this time, Ransom’s wife, Claire, and their sons could pay the price for Ransom’s loyalty.

But as tensions between Ceredigion and Occitania reignite and alliances at court begin to crumble, a desperate Jon-Landon discovers his only ally is the knight he betrayed. With the future of Kingfountain hanging in the balance, Ransom agrees to help. And as secret enemies reveal their endgame, Ransom knows that he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice for the survival of the Argentine dynasty.

The synopsis really says it all: Jon-Landon is an insufferable twat and his spy master is even worse.  Ransoms pays the heaviest price as petulance and jealousy destroy the kingdom from the inside, while opportunistic kings attack the borders. 

There is a little more magic in this book. The real history of the Wizr board is revealed with how this particular game began.  There are miracles of the fountain to behold.  Alix hints at having more abilities than anyone is aware of, and I really wish we had seen more of her and Estian’s motivations than what we learned at the end.  (I wonder if maybe in reading the two books about Ankorette, we learn these poisoner secrets so that Alix only had to give a nod to it in a later book? I skipped them but am going to go back for sure).

There was so much intrigue, as in every book, although I felt like this was more about Jon-Landon cutting off his own arms than having a good reason to conquer his own allies. Ransom stayed loyal to the Fountain above all else.  There were some parts that almost turned to dark fantasy, as in, children were murdered, graphic poisonings, etc, but even in the darkest times there was a way forward.

There was the typical dose of battles, strategy, reconciliation ,and heroism that I come to expect from these books.  The “Dex Aie” chapter was pretty much everything.  Ransom and Estian finally had their showdown, although I could have gone for an epic duel.

What else… oh yes, the family scenes.  I wish Wheeler would do families in more of his books, I just loved seeing the twins causing mayhem with the princess.  I think he’s got a strong sense of family and it shows in the pages, it surprised me that this isn’t something he has written before.  The twins were somewhat of the comic relief in some otherwise terrible situations. I have theories about how they will grow up and be married and further the realm for sure.

My only question was – so obviously some years had passed in the beginning of the book, but I don’t think everything else aged consistently.  Dappled would have been older too and probably not as strong and resilient as he used to be.  Ransom’s kids didn’t seem to age appropriately either, either that or there weren’t really that many years that had passed. 

Either way, let me close by giving Claire the spotlight – I think she deserved the protectorate position at the end, so much!! She was the most capable queen and saved the day so many times throughout the series.  While the devastation at the end did absolutely ruin me, I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome for Claire.  I don’t know how I feel about the fact that she more or less converted to the belief of the Fountain, although again, the ending, the ending, the ending.  I’m glad she affiliated herself with Constance and got to see the Deep Fathoms for herself. 

All in all – yes definitely recommend these books for those seeking an exciting medieval fantasy series.  I think they are great books for teens too, easy to follow plots and very clean content. I am interested in checking out the history and books that the series and Ransom character are based on.  There was a knight named William Marshal and his service to four kings (the Plantagenet line, predecessors of the Tudors) was a real piece of history.  There’s a fantastic author note about it all.

((Very lastly- these books are available on KU, with free audiobooks as part of that subscription. This is the case with most Jeff Wheeler books. This series is narrated by Kate Rudd and she is absolutely fantastic – very dramatic – but very good. As another way to check out his books I would highly recommend that route)