The Wheel of Osheim (The Red Queen’s War #3)

The Wheel of Osheim Book Cover The Wheel of Osheim
The Red Queen's War
Mark Lawrence
Harper Voyager
May 5, 2016

From the international bestselling author of the Broken Empire Trilogy, the thrilling conclusion to the Red Queen’s War...
Mark Lawrence’s “epic fantasy” (The Washington Post) continues as a reluctant prince returns from the bowels of Hell to engage in his greatest battle yet—among the living and the dead.

All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth, getting back out alive and with Loki’s key is all that matters. Loki’s creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jalan’s fortune back in the living world.

Jalan plans to return to the three w’s that have been the core of his idle and debauched life: wine, women, and wagering. Fate however has other plans, larger plans. The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster, and it will crack the world unless it’s stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there’s nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers. Jalan and Snorri face many dangers, from the corpse hordes of the Dead King to the many mirrors of the Lady Blue, but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim always pulls you back. In the end it’s win or die.


The Wheel of Osheim kicks off a fair amount of time after The Liar’s Key…kind of. Remember back in the Broken Empire trilogy where there was a time skip but also flashbacks to the time skip? The same thing happens here. Important things happen during the time skip, but we readers don’t see them until they become relevant to current-day events. Mark Lawrence really seems to enjoy doing this and it’s kind of fun cause not many other authors do it.

Speaking of the Broken Empire trilogy, there’s a lot more intersection with it here than in the previous two books. I still wouldn’t call it necessary to read the Broken Empire books first, but stuff makes a lot more sense if you have. And it’s a lot more fun when you understand the full scope of everything that’s happening.

Jalan continues to be thrown from one hard choice to another and this prince handles it like a king. Even taking to account that he’s the main character, Jalan has gotten a lot of character development. More so than you typically see in most stories. It’s not that his personality shifts, it really doesn’t, it’s more that he just grows up. Instead of going with the flow, he decides he’s tired of being led around and to control his own destiny. These changes are gradual, stretching over the course of the whole trilogy, but he’s a different man for the better by the end.

Snorri is around too, but not as much as in the first book. His disappearances are fewer than they were in book two though, thankfully. His story is much less complex, essentially just more viking stuff, but sees a fitting conclusion by the end. And all the shoutouts to Norse mythology mixed into all that were super fun.

Now, let’s talk about the ending. I will preface this by saying endings are hard. It doesn’t matter what genre a story is in or what medium you’re using to tell it (books, movies, TV shows, etc.), it is really hard to do a good ending. And if you’ve read the Broken Empire trilogy, you have a vague inclination on how things are going to end here.

I thought the ending here was ok. Not good, not bad, just ok. But I don’t really know what to say on how it could have been done better. It was upbeat, which fits this trilogy in a way that would not have fit the Broken Empire books. But it also felt a little too standard. It wasn’t quite “happily ever after” but it was close. Still, the Red Queen’s War remained strong throughout and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Certainly worth the time spent reading it and more than good enough to get me to follow Mark Lawrence’s work for a long, long time.

May 2, 2021

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