Series: Red Queen #0.2
Genres: Novella, Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy
Rating: 3 stars
Warning: Contains spoilers for Red Queen and Glass Sword.
This prequel is narrated by Diane Farley, captain of the Scarlet Guard which is the revolutionary group that is currently fighting for change in a world where Silvers reign superior, and for the equality and fair treatment of Reds. This novella takes place prior to and during the events of Red Queen and so not only was it interesting to get to read the story from a different perspective, but it was nice to be able to peer into the world of such a secret organisation.
The story begins with Farley and the Colonel who have been working together on some kind of mission. I should probably mention that Steel Scars was released 5th January 2016 but I had only read it after reading Glass Sword, the second book of the series (which came out 9th February 2016), so I had already met the Colonel. I saw him as someone to fear, someone who was cold and calculating but now, I see him in a different light because of the way he is with Farley. I was surprised that both were usually paired together on missions because from Glass Sword, it was clear their relationship as father and daughter was a strained one, which was probably related to what happened to Farley’s mother and sister. They were paired together because of how successful they were when working alongside each other and even though Farley hated to admit it, he was always the one to get her out of sticky situations. From this and their interactions, I learnt that the Colonel wasn’t as harsh and uncaring as I’d once thought. He’s not openly affectionate, but you can tell that underneath his steely persona, he cares a lot about Farley. When he tells her to follow the orders that she’s been given, a part of me thinks that it’s not just because she’s being disobedient and is at risk of angering Command, but because she’s putting herself in danger and he’s not in a position where he can be there to protect her.
So I’ve really gained a better understanding of the Colonel’s character through this novella. Farley too; in the first book I didn’t really like her. I liked her much more in Glass Sword, I thought she was dependable, strong and a good leader. Through this story though, I’m able to better understand more about the way she thinks. I’m not seeing her through Mare’s point of view anymore, I get to peek inside her head. It’s funny because initially, I never thought Farley was caring, but a cold individual. In the scene where she first meets Mare in Will Whistle’s wagon, I thought she was unkind because she made it near impossible for Mare to ever join the Scarlet Guard, and to help her friend Kilorn. This story however showed me that she had actually cared a lot, and so it was nice to gain that different perspective on her character.
The rest of the story follows Farley as she travels to different parts of Norta, conducting Scarlet Guard business which involves making connections and gathering information that will help the Scarlet Guard’s efforts to rebel and plan an attack within the country. I quite enjoyed being an ‘insider’ and observing their cunning and crafty ways to achieve their goals. Farley also recruited new members, one being Shade Barrow who I grew to adore whilst reading the main series. My most favourite part was reading how everything began with those two; it was especially sweet seeing how they grew closer after Shade had revealed his secret to Farley in order to save her.
Overall, I liked the story but didn’t find it as compelling as I thought I would have. There were also some passages I found less interesting, like how Farley and her team travelled from A to B. The secret transmissions between Command and the Colonel etc didn’t interest me that much either because I didn’t fully understand the format of the messages. However, I don’t really believe this to be a weak point because I think Aveyard was just trying to make the story different by presenting a realistic version of the messages. Besides, I’m not a soldier or a trained member of the Guard so of course it wouldn’t make much sense to me!
Nonetheless, I enjoyed being able to learn more about the behind the scenes process of the Scarlet Guard. I would recommend this to fans of the series because more can be learnt about the relationships between characters, such as that of Farley and the Colonel or Farley and Shade and again, it’s just nice being able to read the story from a different viewpoint.