Kendare Blake, author of the fantastic and addictive book Three Dark Crowns, introduces us to the queens of Fennbirn Island and their powers.
Ah, Fennbirn Island. A secret island hidden in the mists, the sort that you can only get to if it wants you there, and can only leave by its permission. It’s pretty much the Hotel California of islands, only its songs are sung by far fewer of my dad’s drunk friends. Man, my dad’s friends loved the Eagles. Yikes, my childhood.
Anyhow, it is my great honor to be able to introduce you to the queens, and the gifts, of Fennbirn Island (called “the island” by true inhabitants. Call it “Fennbirn” and you’re sure to be outed as a mainlander). On the island, people are born with many gifts. Let’s take a look at them:
The Poisoner Gift
To have the poisoner gift is to be able to ingest any toxin without harm. Snakebites are a tickle to you. Poison Ivy makes a nice bed to nap in. And you never have to be nervous about trying the blowfish in a Japanese restaurant. You are also an expert assassin. Sleight of hand comes naturally to you, and you have an innate talent for combining toxins to create varied poison effects. This also makes you a fine healer, but who needs that when there’s killing to be done!
Queen Katharine is the poisoner queen. She was fostered by the Arron family of poisoners, the strongest and oldest poisoner family on the island. The last three queens crowned have been poisoners, and because of that the poisoner culture is strong. They have taken over the capital city and the government. They turn their noses up at unpoisoned food. They have no desire to give up the crown.
The Elemental Gift
Elementals are wild at heart. They run in the wind, and leap through the fire. To be an elemental is to love speed, movement, and the power of nature. You’re a cliff-diver. A storm-chaser. You like to watch things burn and may need a bit of supervision. Most elementals are born with an affinity for only one or two elements. They can control water, for instance, or specialize in fire.
But Queen Mirabella can control them all. She is the strongest elemental queen the island has seen in hundreds of years. The religious sect of the island, led by the High Priestess and her legions of priestesses, sees in Mirabella the chance to topple the poisoner dynasty, and restore the island to balance, and to the following of the Goddess.
The Naturalist Gift
Poisoners and elementals often look down upon naturalists as farmers. Heathens. Country bumpkins. But to be a naturalist is to wield the lifeblood of the island. You can make the crops grow, or ask a fish to swim into your net. You can have a perfectly ripe strawberry pretty much whenever you want it. You love the out of doors, and don’t shy away from hard work. You respect animals, and if your gift is strong enough, have an animal familiar, like a dog or a bird, who is close to you as part of your soul. The stronger your gift, the stronger your animal.
Queen Arsinoe’s best friend Jules for instance, has a cougar, and is the strongest naturalist in the last sixty years. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the queen herself.
The War Gift
It has been many generations since the island had a war queen. Perhaps because there has been little strife with the mainland, and she is not needed. To have the war gift is to be an excellent fighter. An excellent battle strategist. To be brutal, and have a hot temper. Those with a strong war gift can guide weapons with their minds (that’s telekinesis, Kyle! Points for you if you got that Tenacious D reference) but as it has been many years since a war queen rose, the gift has weakened and become more and more rare.
The Sight Gift
Called oracles, to have this gift is to have the rarest gift on the island. Once it was not so uncommon, but having visions of the future had a tendency to turn dark in someone as strong as a queen. Oracle queens grew paranoid. Some could read thoughts and went mad. Unfounded executions and a bloody rebellion led to chaos, and now if a queen is born with the sight gift, she is drowned at birth. The gift still exists within the general population, but it is weak, and growing weaker still.
And there you go! A crash course in queens and gifts on Fennbirn Island! Of course the island holds many more secrets, and I hope you enjoy discovering a few in Three Dark Crowns.
See the full Three Dark Crowns series here.