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The Poison Throne

(Moorehawke Trilogy #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  2,707 ratings  ·  317 reviews
Wynter returns from a five-year exile in the bleak Northlands to find her beloved homeland in turmoil. King Jonathan's civilised, multicultural realm is no more; the gibbets and cages have returned. Days of laughter, friendly ghosts and gossipy cats remain only in Wynter's memory - the present confronts her with power play, dark torture chambers, violent ghosts, and cats ( ...more
Paperback, 468 pages
Published October 13th 2008 by The O'Brien Press (first published September 8th 2008)
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Georgia Green it depends how much time you want to spend on it. I read this in two days. but that was including doing some homework and helping around the house so …moreit depends how much time you want to spend on it. I read this in two days. but that was including doing some homework and helping around the house so it would have taken me probably one day. but I like to read from beginning to end without a break so it all depends on you (less)

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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  2,707 ratings  ·  317 reviews

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Tomoe Hotaru
6 Dec '12
I feel I need to explain my rating for The Poison Throne, as it was not a terribly bad book. Parts of me liked it, but the larger half of me was just too disappointed to give it any more than two out of five. You see, I've been in a rut recently. Work, traveling to and fro between islands, project deadlines -- especially with financial closure coming soon -- I've been (and still am) really stressing out with no proper me time, and all I really wanted was to curl up somewhere nice an
 Lady Jayne *~*The Beach Bandida*~*
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Adult Fantasy readers
(4-4.5 Stars)


The Poison Throne was a book that sucked me in at a time when I was struggling to connect to a book, and started a few just to put them aside. I didn't want to put this one aside but had to quite a bit because of work stresses. I had no trouble getting back into it though.

Christopher? Aaaaahhh... he just tugged at my heartstrings. I want to know him better! I really cared about Wynter, Christopher, Razi
Krista (Miura Haruma-san, I will always miss you)
This could have been a five star book. I'll start with the bad and then move to the good. There isn't much bad anyway.

1. Wynter. I do like her, but a few things annoyed me. I didn't mind that she started off arrogant and cold/calculating, because it was fun to watch her grow, however, two things bother me about her. The first is that she is homophobic and basically comes right out and says she might not love her brother if he were gay. That made me icky toward her--I don't care about the time p
Okay. How do I start.
This book was so S**** that I injured my dog. No joke. I threw it and the damn thing decided to cause me some more internal damage by hitting my poor dog, Jersey.
My dog is old.
She's also very small.
So when it hit her, she sort of flew into the air and hurtled into the pool.
She's also never been in the pool before.
Oh. And PS: she cant swim.
I jumped in with my F****ing clothes on and got her.
However, the book decided this wasnt enough- so while I left the damn cursed thing in
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
It’s been a little while since I read a medievalist fantasy and this reminded me of what I’ve been missing. The texture of similar worlds sent me off to do medieval history at university nearly 20 years ago, and I’m still enthralled. The Poison Throne has been described as YA fantasy, but I’m not sure it fits that category well - it’s a slow-burn, comprised almost entirely of world building and character development.

We meet fifteen year old Wynter Moorhawke, returning to her home after five yea
May 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Well, it's been that kind of month and the nasty reading slump in the middle of it did not help things in the slightest. I didn't want to ruin this read with my foul mood, so I started it early in the month, put it down again, and waited until things had picked up some before giving it a go. THE POISON THRONE--the first book in Celine Kiernan's Moorehawke Trilogy--is a book I eagerly anticipated picking up. I was especially excited as I had heard it likened to Megan Whalen Turner's Attolia books ...more
Sep 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janina by: Choco
Shelves: fantasy, cats
If it weren't for the drawn out ending, which took me almost a week to read, this would be a solid four star read. A character-driven fantasy, clearly part of a trilogy and not offering much conclusion in this first instalment, I very much enjoyed both the world and the characters. This book falls into the category of "more talk, less action", but until about 75 pages before the end, this didn't bother me at all. Very atmospheric, a wonderful father-daughter relationship that often brought me cl ...more
More appropriately this could be considered historical fiction with fantasy overtones I suppose, but talking cats, infuriated ghosts and magic tends to make think 'fantasy' so fantasy it shalt be called. Also this is considered Young Adult by the author and most places I looked it up, I suppose since Wynter is 15 years old, Chris is 18 (I think) and Razi is 19 that makes sense, but I'll warn you for content regardless since it feels like there is more of the following than I normally read in YA. ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

This was very “meh”. I read it because a friend recommended it to me and I wished I loved it as much as she did but... there was nothing really bad about it, but nothing I found interesting either.

It took me a long time to get into this. I did think the magic in this world with the ghosts and talking cats was interesting, but it was very slow and I felt like not much happend.

The characters were okay... I didn’t care a lot about them but I also didn’t hate them... Oh I wish this was more pos
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Just wow. I was sucked in from the first few chapters. First I loved the setting. It’s an interesting blend of fantasy, some paranormal characteristics, and some “real life” qualities. What I mean by that is you have talking cats, ghosts, yet the setting is set someplace in Europe (not really specified). It’s hard to explain, but once you read into the book you get the idea. I thought this was interesting and different.

The book may be slow to some. Yet I was so interested in the political
Every once in a while you come across a book that satisfies everything your bibliophilic heart desires and demands in a good read. For me, it was The Poison Throne. It has been a while since I read it and unlike when I read Hunger Games, I didn’t rush to immediately write down my thoughts. Because I wanted to savour it. What I’m saying in my roundabout way is that if I were asked to name a best book of 2010 (for me) this would be it. Yes, I loved it that much. It begins with a homecoming and th ...more
Update (1/16/2021): After I've re-read this I'm not as enamored of the book as I once was. The characters are well developed with a good solid world around them but I thought the middle of the book took too long to get to certain plot points. There was a bit of a slower pace in the middle and I'm not as intrigued to continue on in the series as I had originally planned.

Original review:

Can't decide between a 4 or a 4.5.

Finally! A fantasy book I can sink my teeth into (or hands, rather)! And it’s
Dec 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, favorites
God, I LOVED THIS BOOK! Rarely nowadays do I get to read a novel for young people that is so mature and so well written! I've been reading way too many that are fluffy, unoriginal tales of two dimensional characters and love/obsession that has no basis, this reminded me of why I love to read books. (:

What I loved about The Poison Throne was that it was one of those rare books where I got completely engrossed in the story, a type of epic fantasy/historical hybrid that swept me up from the first p
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Blah, blah, blah. This book just plods along, never really telling you where it wants to go. The author keeps trying to throw in some 'machine' that none of the characters are allowed to talk about, perhaps trying to create mystery, but after a while, it just gets old. If you are going to dangle something in front of me, you have to tell me BEFORE I get bored. Bad timing. Also, the characters started out interesting, but then never developed into anything. Their actions seemed forced, there was ...more
Feb 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Melina Marchetta
Shelves: 0-favourites
I cannot believe how good this book was! It isn't a kind of book you should rush to get to the end. I strongly recommend you savour every scene and every emotion each character exhibits. I felt with the characters, and to me this book read almost like literature. I don't know a YA book in similar genres that describes characters so well and so consistently. I am going to pace myself now and read the second book a bit later so that I won't have to wait for the third book too long. Am I being sill ...more
Kat  Hooper
Nov 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

After five years away on the King’s business, Wynter Moorehawke and Lorcan, her father, have returned to court. Though they are carpenters of common birth, they also serve their friend, King Jonathan, as Lord and Lady Protector. Wynter is excited to be reunited with her childhood friends Alberon and Razi, the King’s legitimate and illegitimate sons, respectively. They were like brothers to her and she and Lorcan were practically part of the King’s family.
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I hadn’t expected to enjoy “The Poison Throne” so much but I loved it. Admittedly, I found it difficult to get into at the start but found myself becoming more and more drawn in as the story progressed.

Although marketed as a “tale of court intrigue, romance and adventure”, I found these labels somewhat misleading as it conjured up images of a swashbuckling, sword-wielding, young heroine in my mind. However, it was the emotions more so than the events of the novel that really captivated me.
May 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010, ebook
This epic fantasy series clearly ought not to have been published in three books, as the whole first book is a set-up for the doom to come. The main characters are engaging, especially Wynter and Ravi, with Christopher still something of an enigma.

Although the book is written in third person we only are shown as much as Wynter knows, which means a lot of things are unclear, easy to misunderstand or guess work - like real life if you were in her situation. The information isn't spoon-fed - no Ga
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the characters in this, and the fact that I couldn't ever tell where it was going-- not that I felt adrift in it, but just that it didn't follow the formula I've come to expect from alternate history/coming of age novels. I really liked the strong female lead character and her loving, tender relationships with her father and brother. It was nice to have characters whose strength comes from a supportive family rather than damaged characters who have to find their strength on their own-- b ...more
Probably 4.5 stars but I am so excited to have a new series to love, I am rounding up.

Things I loved:

1. The setting, fantasy version of High Medieval Spain, I believe.
2. The language.
3. The fact that our protagonists are genuinely good people.
4. CHRISTOPHER!!!!!!!!! I like Wynter (most of the time, occasionally I did want to smack her) and Lorcan and Razi. But my heart belongs to the charismatic and mistreated Christopher, who is so much my thing, it hurts!
Mar 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
3.5 Stars

The Poison Throne is the first in a trilogy by Celine Kiernan and is set in an unique medieval fantasy world filled with ghosts and sarcastic cats. Apart from that, the characters are wonderfully written and the storyline intrigues the reader from start to finish.
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
Wynter Moorehawke has just returned from the North (yep, it's just as vague as it sounds) to a court with a missing prince, a corrupt king, and an ailing father.

Even after reading 500 pages of this book I still could not tell you much of the plot. It could've been massively condensed, and the pacing was all over the place. Wynter is an okay character but Razi and Christopher were the real interesting and multidimensional characters.

At first I thought the name Wynter was just a trashy fantasy sp
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was something very different to what I usually read. I was not expecting what I read. Wynter the main character, although mildly frustrating at times, was an amazing and different character. Her relation with the other characters was really intriguing and it kept me reading continuously.
The story starts when Wynter and her father return to their home country. Being sent away by the king - a good friend of Lorcan (her father) - we are not given much information of why but brief mention
Angelique Simonsen
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
well written YA series. im going for number two now
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me just start by saying, I loved this book! With that overarching opinion out of the way, I can understand why many people would not. If you dislike not fully understanding the world, this is not the story for you. The story feels REALLY confusing because we are dropped into the middle of this huge political minefield that we have no context for. However, it feels really authentic, because our main character Wynter is right along side us, though she has the benefit of understanding the game, ...more
Alex L
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Oh, man. Where to even begin?

I picked up the entire Moorehawke trilogy at a book sale for $1.50 and I am so happy I did not pay cover price for them. The entirety of The Poison Throne felt like a prologue that just kept going on for 475 pages. Kiernan completely disregarded the number one rule of writing: each book in a series should be able to stand alone. Beginning. Middle. End. This book, however, did little except explain a basic premise, introduce some characters, and never progressed to an
Feb 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to love this book. Not just because it sounded like the sort of book I should love--mystery, intrigue, romance, adventure--but because I picked it up in New Zealand, several months before it would even come out in the US. And while I usually depend on other people's recommendations for my reading selections, it would be nice, for once, to be on the cutting edge, to discover a gem before everyone else and be the one doing the recommending.

The Poison Throne was decent. Its setting
Allison (The Allure of Books)
The three books of the series are The Poison Throne, The Crowded Shadows and The Rebel Prince. I'm reviewing them together partly because it would be hard to write individual reviews without a ton of spoilers...but also because I was insanely addicted to the series and read all three books in a row, and in a ridiculously short amount of time. Oh - and fair warning - there will be gushing to follow.

Here, friends. Here is a series to get lost in. This world, these people...they don't let you keep
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Coming back home usually is a pleasure; more when you had been living in another kingdom, but will the kingdom still be the same?

Wynter came back after years to the palace. She and her father, Lorcan, were at the north, working on the relations between the kingdoms. They are honorific nobles, meaning they had a title, but not lands. Their kingdom is more progressive than the northern one, although they still don’t respect women. Wynter will have to fight against some stereotypes and she will fi
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Celine Kiernan is an award-winning author of fantasy novels for young adults. Her critically acclaimed work combines fantasy elements with the exploration of political, humanitarian and philosophical themes. She is best known for The Moorehawke Trilogy, a dark, complex trilogy of fantasy YA books set in an alternative renaissance Europe. First published in Celine’s native Ireland in 2008, the tril ...more

Other books in the series

Moorehawke Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Crowded Shadows (Moorehawke Trilogy, #2)
  • The Rebel Prince (Moorehawke Trilogy, #3)

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“(CBI lecture, Dublin, 2008. Speaking on the challenges presented by The Moorehawke Trilogy to the YA reader)

You can't choose any of these characters and say, 'Yes! I'm completely on your side. You are the good guy! You are the one I agree with.' Because at some stage along the way every single one of these characters will let you down. They may not want to. They may have no choice. But they will let you down.”
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