War Storm offers a messy, imperfect ending to Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen saga

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Victoria Aveyard wraps up her Red Queen saga with War Storm, a final installment that ultimately gets more points for intention than execution.

Warning: This review has spoilers for the entirety of War Storm. It’s hard to talk about the ending of a series without, well, talking about the ending. Proceed with caution.

It’s always difficult to wrap up a multi-book story, especially one as large and sprawling as Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series. War Storm, her final novel in the saga, does its best to address the many dangling plots left over from King’s Cage. (And implied within the larger series itself.) And the novel clocks in at 657 pages, so it’s not like it doesn’t make a valiant effort. There’s politics, romance, and the battle for the fate of a kingdom.

However, as a story in and of itself – as well as the conclusion to a series – War Storm is basically just okay. It wraps up most of the outstanding narrative items. By the end, we know who will rule Norta. We discover the fate of Mare and Cal’s romantic relationship. There’s even hope for a future in which magically powered Silvers and normal Reds can live together in something like equality.

The story also has some fantastic elements. We get to know more characters and journey to new places. (Both the Lakelands and Montfort seem like fascinating kingdoms.) The descriptions are beautifully written. The political intrigue is fascinating. We finally get to spend some time with several of the series’ most interesting secondary characters. (I still want more Iris, honestly.)

But the problem with War Storm is its pacing. Things either take forever or speed by like a bullet train.

The thing is, it should be impossible for an ending to feel rushed after we spent 600-plus pages getting there.  And yet here we are. The final climactic battle is big and loud, with lots of imminent threats, but an ultimately toothless danger. Only Maven eventually perishes, and that only happens once he completely snaps to the dark side and tries to murder Mare with his bare hands. Seriously, Aveyard gives us so many near misses and hints at redemption with this character. But I suppose it’s a good choice in the end. Some people, you just can’t save, no matter how much you might want to. But Maven fans are going to be disappointed not just by his ending, but his treatment in the entire book. It gives us almost no further insight into his character than his mother’s evil mind control powers drove him crazy.

Even Mare’s inner conflict about him is ultimately reduced to an act of self-defense, ultimately scuttling her waffling over the worth of his life and her ability to kill.  Elsewhere, after stoically insisting on his right to rule for the entirety of the novel, Cal relinquishes his throne in what feels like five minutes. The ultimate battle is won by some submarines that we’ve never heard of before. Anabel and Julian betray an alliance member, but his death is barely remarked upon. And the (quite frankly, awesome) Cygnet queens flee, never to be heard from again.