Title: Fairest

Author: Marissa Meyer

Series: The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: January 27th 2015


Four Stars

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story—a story that has never been told…until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-colour art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“Come here, baby sister,” she whispered, and despite the terror twisting inside Levana’s stomach, her feet obeyed. “I want to show you something.”

Every villain is the hero of his own story. A phase that I feel perfectly encapsulates Levana in Fairest. Reading Cinder, Scarlet and Cress has shown us only one side of Levana, that of a cruel tyrant who is willing to wage war and biological terror to gain control of Earth. However Fairest tells us the story of a young girl who was brutally scarred by her sister and who has never truly been loved, not even by her husband.

Levana is not close to her family, her parents are dead and her sister constantly taunts and abuses her. In order to hide the scars and imperfections she is constantly hiding herself behind various glamours. The only thing Levana has which makes her happy is her love for one of the palace guards, Evret, however when she meets his wife who is heavily pregnant with their first child she cannot hide her jealously and despair. When she receives a birthday gift from Evret and when his wife later dies in childbirth she believes that they can finally be together.

She glamours Evret, making herself look like his late wife, and manipulates him into marrying her. Evret doesn’t love Levana and he knows that she doesn’t truly love him either, however he gives into her demands feeling he has no other choice. When Channary finds out she is furious that Levana has married a lowly guard but there is nothing she can do to annul the marriage.

“It’s just…you never show your face, when they record you. Rumours are starting, you know. People think you’re hiding something. And love begins with trust, and trust can’t be formed if people think you’re hiding something.”

When Channary dies, after giving birth to her daughter Princess Selene, Levana finally gets what she’s always wanted; a chance to be Queen. Until Selene turns thirteen and ascends to the throne Levana is Queen Regent. She believes she will be a kind and fair ruler who will help Luna flourish into a great kingdom. Knowing her sister was a horrible ruler and believing Selene will be as well Levana dreads the deadline of her time on the throne. Soon she finds herself envisioning her niece’s death. Small daydreams at first which slowly become more concrete plans.

Haunted by the death of her niece, paranoid towards any threat to her throne, and unloved by her husband, we slowly watch as Levana turns from a lonely and abused sixteen year old into the tyrant Cinder finds herself facing.

…The Characters

“She was the queen.
The guilt and the horror and the memory of that awful smell might stay with her forever, but she was the queen.”

Levana started with the very best of intentions. She had a plan to make Luna a great city and all she wanted was an opportunity to prove she could be a better ruler than her sister Channary. When her sister dies she finally gets that chance but over time her best intentions take a darker turn and she becomes corrupted by power, however in spite of everything she still maintains the belief that she is doing what is best for Luna and its people.

“You’re always so desperate to make this work, to turn our marriage into something it isn’t. Haven’t you ever just stopped to wonder what else might be out there? What you might be missing out on by trying so hard to force this to be real between us?” He squeezed her hands. “I told you a long time ago that by choosing me, you were giving up your chance to find happiness.”

Evret was always kind to Levana when she was a child and no one else was. She fell in love with him but Evret was always loyal to his wife. He is a kind man who loved Solstice and loves his daughter with all his heart. After marrying Levana he tries to make their relationship work but he can’t trust her when she refuses to show him the truth of what she looks like under her glamours. He continues his work as a guard and gives his life to protect Levana from a supposed threat.

The relationship between Evret and Levana was doomed from the very beginning. While he never loved her I believe Levana did love him in her own way and truly believed that he felt the same for her. However when he refuses her advances she manipulates him and uses her gift to get what she wants. Levana is constantly manipulating him throughout their relationship and refuses to see the truth, that their marriage is nothing more than a sham. There is no trust between the two of them and when Levana finally reaches out to Evret it is already too late to repair their relationship.

Levana’s heart throbbed. “It’s been almost ten years.”
“I know.”
“And now? Are you still waiting for it to be over?”
His expression softened. The anger was gone, replaced with something infuriatingly kind, though his words were heartbreakingly cruel. “Are you still waiting for me to fall in love with you?”

 It was interesting seeing Channary rather than just hearing of her. She is an incredibly cruel person who delights in using her gift to get what she wants. Unlike Levana however she is more frivolous with her attentions, her only concerns are with her dresses and her suitors, and chooses to mainly direct her cruelty onto her sister. However she seems to change a little when her daughter Selene is born and it would have been interesting to see how her relationship with her daughter would have progressed if she had survived.

…The Setting

“The room glinted and shimmered, all glass and white stone. From her position, she could see all of the members of the court seated around the intricately tiled floor, and directly opposite her was the magnificent view of Lake Artemisia and the white city.
Sitting there, Levana truly felt like the ruler of Luna.”

We see a lot more of Luna in Fairest and learn about their customs and history. Although Fairest is mainly set in the palace and the capital city, Artemisia, we do hear a little bit about what life is like in the fringes, where the various industries that keep Luna a prosperous planet are maintained. I feel in a way Fairest set up a lot of the background for Winter, the final book in the Lunar Chronicles. One of the things I loved about Fairest was how it set up more detailed histories for characters we’ve yet to meet. I enjoyed seeing Winter’s childhood as well as her relationships with her parents and her stepmother, and it was interesting seeing Cinder as Princess Selene and the first three years of her life living on Luna.

It was hard reading about some of the things that happened to Levana, as well as some of the things she did, but I loved seeing this different side of her and discovering what it was that led to her becoming the cruel Queen we know from Cinder.

What did you think of Fairest? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

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