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***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happens in One Dark Throne?
Natalia and Genevieve Arron discuss the townspeople’s speculation about what has become of Katharine. They talk about how only one suitor—Nicolas Martel—has come for her. It’s okay because he’s the best of the bunch. Genevieve cannot believe how much Katharine has changed. Katharine talks about the poisoned presents she has ready for all suitors. She asks about Pietyr. There’s still no word on him.
The suitors are arriving in Wolf Spring to meet Arsinoe. The townspeople can’t get enough of her, the Bear Queen. She’s tired of it. Jules wants her to be careful not to reveal her newly discovered talent for poisons. It’s their only advantage over her sisters.
Billy sneaks up on Arsinoe in the woods just after she eats a bit of hemlock. She thought he’d be with Jules and Joseph, but he says they need their time alone. He wants to talk to Arsinoe about the arriving suitors. She thinks he’s going to kiss her. She wants him to, but then she remembers the hemlock on her lips and pushes him away without explanation.
Jules sees the cuts on Joseph’s knuckles and is sad he’s stuck working on the docks like his dad and brother. It’s not what he wanted, although hopefully Arsinoe will be queen soon and he’ll be in her service instead. Jules cringes as he talks about his brother Matthew being with her mother Madrigal again. Jules’s jealousy about Joseph’s fling with Mirabella is alive and well.
Mirabella’s ready to go to find her sisters. Her former sentimentality is gone, especially since she thinks Arsinoe sent a bear to kill her. She’s out for blood and ready to be the last one standing. They hear a shriek in the hallway. It’s a young servant girl who slipped her hand into a beautiful glove, a gift from Katharine, before she brought it in to Mirabella. They have to cut her arm off so the poison from the glove doesn’t travel to her heart. Mirabella and her two friends, Bree and Sara, ride off into the night with Rho’s blessing.
Luke tells Arsinoe he’s received word that Mirabella is preparing to strike. She doesn’t want anyone to get hurt because of her, so she goes off in the night to search for Mirabella. She stops to see Madrigal to search for any low magic they could do to help her. They decide on a binding spell to link her with the bear.
Jules wants to go find Arsinoe to help her. Madrigal says it’s not possible. She has to handle the Ascension on her own. When Jules leaves, Madrigal and Cait (Madrigal’s mother) talk about Jules’s legion curse and how her temper is growing like they were afraid it would with the Ascension Year. At her birth, an oracle predicted Jules’s naturalist gift would be touched by war. She recommended Jules be drowned immediately. Madrigal tells Joseph about this.
A scout comes to Mirabella in the middle of the night to tell her that Arsinoe’s waiting out on the road for her. The sisters face off. They talk, and Mirabella calls lightning down on Arsinoe. Jules is close enough to see the bolt when it hits. Arsinoe’s hurt but tells her sister she came to protect Wolf Spring from her. She says they should let Katharine win. Mirabella won’t allow it.
Joseph holds Jules back from going to Arsinoe’s rescue. The trees begin to rain branches down on them until Joseph loosens his hold. Jules didn’t even realize it was her causing this at first. Arsinoe and Mirabella hear it, too. Arsinoe tells her it’s Jules. Mirabella resumes the storm. A bear crashes into the clearing. Arsinoe runs away with it.
The Arrons prepare the welcome banquet for Nicolas. Katharine has been bored and amusing herself by learning the art of knife throwing. She terrifies everyone she practices on.
Joseph feels like he needs to apologize to Mirabella. This makes Jules nervous, but he assures her she’s the one he loves. He goes with Billy when he’s sent to become Mirabella’s new taster. Billy’s also called to cook for Mirabella and is awful at it. But the two slowly become friends.
Arsinoe learns Madrigal’s pregnant with Matthew’s baby. Arsinoe receives two suitors: Tommy and Michael. They accidentally use a poisoned knife of Arsinoe’s at dinner. They both die.
Katharine tries to make Pietyr jealous by acting attached to Nicolas as they ride to Wolf Spring.
Mirabella’s nervous about having to fight her sisters, especially after Billy says Arsinoe wasn’t the one who sent the bear after her. Arsinoe also didn’t fight back in the woods. Mirabella’s not sure her sisters had ill intentions toward her. That makes it hard to prepare to kill them.
They find a priestess who has been killed by a poisoned dress. The dress was meant for Rho. Mirabella’s sad that Katharine’s trying to get to those around her instead of just her.
Madrigal’s performing low magic on Arsinoe again at the bent tree. In the middle of the ceremony, Arsinoe decides she doesn’t want to harm her sisters. She realizes she loves them as images of them flash through her head. So she breaks the spell and goes to douse the fire. Madrigal topples over because she has seen a vision in the tree. It’s something about the baby she’s carrying, but she won’t share what she saw with Arsinoe.
As they travel to Wolf Spring, Katharine thinks about how Nicolas would be such a good king consort, much better than Billy, who she’s supposed to marry. Nicolas is handsome and charming and brutal, just like her. She thinks about how Nicolas will take Billy out along with the stag during the upcoming stag hunt.
Arsinoe and Jules argue about whether Jules should use her war gift to protect Arsinoe. It seems as if it’s starting to take a hold on Jules, and she’s getting angrier and more out of control.
Billy finds Arsinoe so they can visit for just a minute. She wishes they could be together during the festival, but he’s still Mirabella’s taster and will be by her side most of the time. They hug and Arsinoe wants him to kiss her, but he doesn’t. They hope to meet up one more time before he leaves Wolf Spring.
Luca and Rho discuss how hard it’s going to be to keep Mirabella safe while at Wolf Spring. Mirabella, Bree, and Elizabeth discuss this interesting town and wonder where Arsinoe’s bear is.
Joseph and Jules discuss how they are worried about Arsinoe having to act like she’s scared about poison.
Everyone heads to the waterfront for the wreath ceremony. Both Arsinoe and Mirabella are concerned about what’s going to happen, but Katharine seems thoroughly involved with her suitor. Then she pulls out a bow with a flaming arrow. Everyone wonders if she’s going to attack. She’s only shooting it out to light the first barge.
Katharine challenges her sisters to a hunt. This wasn’t planned, but no one can stop it now. Arsinoe is scared and wondering where Jules is. Pietyr tries to question Katharine, but Nicolas supports her brutal decision. Natalia wishes Katharine hadn’t proposed this but knows there is no turning back now. Joseph and Jules wait in his room and realize they’ve missed the ceremony.
Katharine is the last one in the forest, but she doesn’t mind. She wants to be the hunter chasing her prey.
Jules and Joseph are confused when they get to town and no one’s there. Luke finds them and tells them what’s happened. They sprint into the forest to try to find Arsinoe.
Arsinoe’s bear isn’t an instinctual runner. He wants to go to the fight, not away from it. But she finally reigns him in when she sees Katharine up ahead. Mirabella is hiding in a tree trying to wait out the fight.
Katharine shoots Arisnoe with a poisoned arrow. Mirabella watches from the woods in tears. Jules storms into the clearing and uses her war gift to knock Katharine back. She steals Katharine’s horse and rides off with Arsinoe.
The others return to the crowds in the village with the news. Billy won’t believe it until he sees Arsinoe’s body. Jules’s grandma says she’ll come to her senses and bring Arisone back to them for a proper queen’s burial.
Katharine arrives and announces Jules has the war gift and used it on her to grab Arsinoe and run.
Arsinoe finally wakes up when Jules starts to pull the arrow out. Arsinoe warns her not to touch it because it’s poisoned. They’re riding north to see the only healer Jules can think of who might help.
Mirabella learns that Katharine and the Arrons are in the woods trying to find the body of Arsinoe‘s bear for a pelt. She thinks it’s wicked to defile a queen’s familiar in that way. She thinks about how she will pardon Jules once she’s queen for Arsinoe‘s sake.
Jules stops by a stream to give Arsinoe a drink. Arsinoe admits it was a low magic spell that caused Joseph to stray from Jules. Arsinoe passes out. Jules cannot wake her. Jules loads her on the horse and rushes for help.
Pietyr asks Katharine if she could really ever love the cruel Nicolas. She says he only has eyes for her, so perhaps. Pietyr says he’s had no other since her. Katharine raises a toast to her dead sister, surprising everyone. But her real enemy is Mirabella.
Jules finally arrives at her destination, her Aunt Cara’s house. Even though she’s supposed to be alone as part of her banishment, Cara’s trainer Willa is there. The old lady guesses or knows that Arsinoe is a poisoner. Jules figures it’s fine if they know now since the kingdoms now think Arsinoe is dead. Willa is a poisoner, too, so she’s able to touch the arrow and begin healing Arsinoe. Jules and Cara talk about their family, but Jules doesn’t mention how Matthew is with Madrigal now and how they’re expecting a baby.
As they’re sailing for Wolf Spring, Billy visits Mirabella below deck. They commiserate about everything that’s happened. By the end of the conversation, they decide to get married. If she can’t have Joseph and he can’t have Arsinoe, then Billy will be Mirabella’s king consort. They will rule together and punish those who have wronged those they love.
When they make it back to Rolanth, Mirabella announces to her people that she’s going to challenge Katharine to a duel.
Everyone in Wolf Spring has turned against Jules. Joseph is scrubbing off the eggs thrown against the front of Gillespie’s Bookstore because of Jules. Madrigal walks up. Joseph mentions how they can’t be sure whether Arsinoe died. Madrigal thinks she’s dead but wonders where Jules could’ve fled to. The only place she’s ever felt safe is with people she trusts: Arsinoe, Joseph, and Cara. It hits them both that Jules may have fled to Cara at the Black Cottage.
While Katharine dances with Nicolas one night after dinner, he asks her to send Pietyr away. He can see how they look at each other and doesn’t want the competition. She says he’s an Arron. Because of this, she won’t send him away. Katharine’s afraid she’ll never feel the same things toward Nicolas that she feels for Pietyr. Nicolas gives her a very poisonous gift: white snake root.
Arsinoe finally awakes at the cabin. She’s surprised Willa knew about her poisoner gift. They recap what has happened since her injury. They hear hoof beats approaching. Jules looks out the window to see Joseph and Madrigal. She runs to embrace Joseph.
Katharine receives a letter from the council upon returning from a horseback ride with Nicolas and Pietyr. It’s a copy of the notice Mirabella has hung all over the kingdom. It challenges Mirabella to a duel in her own country at the next full moon in July. Katharine screams in frustration. Pietyr says it could be a good thing. Katharine decides to throw a ball the night before. She suddenly decides the duel is a grand idea. Pietyr’s face changes to a black void for a second, reminding her of the Breccia Domain. She thinks about how she will no doubt win because “they” are on her side.
Willa and Arsinoe talk of her birth at this cottage. Arsinoe has few memories of this place. Mirabella’s the one who remembers details, not her. Their mother only ever loved her king consort. This fact doesn’t bother Arsinoe. She likely escaped the kingdom with him after the birth of the triplets.
Madrigal tells Cara who the father of her baby is. Cara is stunned and sad. Life in the outside world has gone on without her. She’ll likely be stuck at the cottage until she is as old as Willa. A delivery man comes bringing goods as well as a letter announcing the duel between Mirabella and Katharine. They wonder how the goddess would ever let the duel happen because both could potentially die, leaving no queen. But there would be a queen left…Arsinoe. But Arsinoe is still convinced Mirabella is the destined queen. She decides to go to the duel to help Mirabella win.
Billy gives Mirabella a present to wear at the ball: a choker with black jewels in silver settings. Mirabella wonders when he bought it and who he bought it for. Billy mentions how different Katharine seems now from the innocent girl he met as a suitor.
Genevieve and Natalia discuss the brilliance of the ball and the upcoming duel. Natalia says they have nothing to worry about because Mirabella won’t be dueling at full strength after the ball. She’s kept Mr. Chatworth on a short leash for a reason. She will have him poison Mirabella during the ball. It won’t be enough to kill her, just enough to weaken her for the duel.
Pietyr tries to talk to Katharine about their relationship. She thinks about how she used to plan to keep him as a lover after she was married. Now she threatens him and attacks him with the knife when he doesn’t leave. Then she turns the knife on herself and begins to cut around her hairline. The voice that comes out of her is not her own and tells Pietyr she has not been Katharine since she climbed out of the Breccia Domain. Someone else is living in her. Pietyr flees the room, grabs a horse, and leaves for the Breccia Domain to try to figure out what happened to Katharine and how to save her.
Arsinoe, Jules, Joseph, Madrigal, and Cara all ride towards the city where the duel will take place. They worry about how things will go down and know that Jules will have to carry out most of the things they are planning.
Natalia visits Mr. Chatworth. She gives him the small vial of poison to use on Mirabella. He’s afraid of it, but she says even if he drinks it all he wouldn’t die. It’s just enough to make Mirabella off of her game.
Jules poses as a servant girl at the ball to watch out for Mirabella at Arsinoe’s request. She sees a dark cloaked figure move in the shadows and follows it.
Mirabella enters the ball on Billy’s arm. Katharine enters on Nicolas’s. Looks are exchanged among all. Mirabella begins to use her wind power in the hall but lets it die down to save it for tomorrow.
Mirabella and Billy begin to dance. They both think of Arsinoe. Billy falters a step. They see Mr. Chatworth at their table, talking to Sara and then eventually reclining in Mirabella’s chair. Then they see Joseph in the shadows. Bree sees him, too, and pulls him onto the dance floor and toward Mirabella and Billy. He tells them Jules is there, too, but there’s no time to explain. After Joseph flees, Mirabella and Billy discuss how they desperately want to know what happened to Arsinoe’s body.
Jules tracks down the hooded figure. It’s Arsinoe, who isn’t supposed to be there but was dying to have a look. She’s worried about how Mirabella and Billy were dancing. Arsinoe was supposed to run away with Billy, and he doesn’t even know she’s alive. Jules forces her to leave out of a side door.
Katharine can’t take watching Mirabella and Billy dance anymore. She cuts in and dances with her sister and threatens her.
Pietyr arrives at the Breccia Domain. He uses a rope to lower himself into the dark well. Even at the end of his rope, he’s nowhere near the bottom. He lights a lantern to try to see lower. He mentions Katharine’s name but then gets spooked. He thinks he sees and hears things around him in the semi-dark.
Back at the hotel, Mirabella is chilling and weak. The priestesses realize she’s been poisoned and send for healers. They determine it’s not fatal, but she’ll be weak and likely unable to use her magic at the duel tomorrow.
Arsinoe, Joseph, and Jules go to the arena when it’s still empty to look around. After the battle, they’ll leave the queendom forever. It’s not the end they hoped for, but at least they’ll be together.
Katharine gets ready and is suspicious about Natalia’s seeming over-confidence.
Mirabella has recovered more than they could’ve ever hoped but is not near full strength. Her only hope is to save her energy and watch for the time to issue one killing blow.
The battle commences. Katharine is confused about why Mirabella is only deflecting the poisoned arrows she shoots at her. Something is off. Then Katharine realizes she’s been poisoned and knows this is Natalia’s secret. She’s insulted her guardian didn’t trust her to win this on her own.
Jules intervenes using her war gift to stop Katharine’s swipe at Mirabella with a poisoned sword. It would’ve been a killing blow. Arsinoe steps out where the crowd can see her. Katharine says she knows she killed Arsinoe with a poisoned arrow. She saw the blood from the wound. Arsinoe says she saw what they wanted her to see. She declares the battle between her sisters over. Guards come in to take Mirabella, Arsinoe, Jules, Joseph, and Camden to prison at the Volroy for interfering with the duel.
Jules could fight the guards, but Arsinoe asks her not to. They’re put in cells deep beneath the castle. Billy comes to visit. He and Arsinoe have quite a reunion. She asks him to go find Cara and Madrigal to help rescue them. Billy tells her he loves her before he leaves. He tells her she’ll tell him the same when he returns.
The council meets to decide Mirabella and Arsinoe’s fate. The decision is basically in Natalia and Luca’s hands. They decide they’ll put Arsinoe down quietly, but there has to be at least one public execution. It will be Mirabella. Luca reluctantly agrees in exchange for three seats on the council.
After a long search, Billy finally finds Cara, Madrigal, and the rescued bear in the woods. He thinks the best plan is to go to his father to get Jules and Jospeh released. The ladies think they should call on the Wolf Spring warriors who were in town for the duel. They part ways, knowing each will pursue their own plan and reconvene when necessary.
Jules and Joseph talk in their cells. They agree to run away together if Arsinoe doesn’t survive.
Billy and his dad discuss his bride. Mr. Chatworth says Billy is to marry Katharine, which shocks Billy. He’ll only agree to do so if both Arsinoe and Mirabella’s lives are spared. Mr. Chatworth says Arsinoe is likely already assassinated and Mirabella will be killed after his wedding to Katharine.
Natalia and Katharine get ready for the crowning. Natalia tells her she must choose Billy as her king.
The crowning ceremony is smaller and more somber than usual. Natalia suggested they bring back the old tradition of the tattooed crown. Luca performs the ceremony and tattoos the crown on Katharine’s head. It’s a painful process but results in a permanent crown that cannot be removed. Katharine goes against Natalia’s orders and names Nicolas her king consort because Billy never gave her the time of day.
Katharine goes to Arsinoe and Mirabella’s cell to show them her tattooed crown and deliver their fates. If they fight her, their friends’ fates will be sealed. She poisons Arsinoe in the cell and will soon come to get Mirabella to poison her in public. Mirabella weeps because she thinks Arsinoe’s dead.
Katharine and Nicolas are married, with only a few in attendance.
Mr. Chatworth goes to Natalia drunk to demand Katharine marry Billy instead. When she refuses and turns her back on him, he comes up behind her and chokes her. They fight. Mr. Chatworth chokes her to death. Rho walks in on this scene and stabs Mr. Chatworth. He dies.
Arsinoe lies on the floor like she’s dead but quietly explains everything to her sister. Mirabella’s shocked and then has to feign crying so the guards don’t come to see why she stopped.
Jules, Jospeh, and Camden sit in another cell. Jules tells Joseph what Arsinoe said about how low magic might have affected his decisions when he met Mirabella. He says it still doesn’t excuse what he did. Jules knew he would say that but was glad she told him before they die. Arsione and Mirabella arrive to rescue them.
Katharine and Nicolas arrive at Greavesdrake Manor for their wedding night. Katharine is hesitant to consummate their marriage as she tries to decompress from what’s happened with her sisters. She also can’t get Pietyr out of her head. Nicolas asks if she’s thinking of him when he notices her hesitancy. She lies and denies it.
Arsinoe, Mirabella, Jules, and Joseph fight their way out of the prison. Just as they’re about the escape, a group shows up from Bastian City wanting to take Jules with them. Billy is there, too.
Katharine wakes up beside her new husband. She felt him thrashing in his sleep earlier and reaches over to touch him only to discover he’s dead. He was poisoned from her kiss and touch because of all the toxins in her body.
Pietyr arrives. Katharine thinks he’ll be furious with her, but he tries to comfort her instead. She realizes she can never marry or bear children by a mainland man because of the poison in her system. Pietyr comforts her and also tells her he knows what she went through in the Breccia Domain because he’s been there.
Arsinoe and crew fight with the Bastian warriors. One of them, Emilia, teaches Jules to control arrows using her war gift. Joseph is badly injured in the battle.
Katharine realizes her whole body is now poison. Genevieve arrives to tell Katharine that Natalia is dead. Genevieve and Pietyr argue about what Katharine’s fate with the council will be after the death of her new husband. A new rider approaches shouting the news: the queens have escaped the prison.
How did One Dark Throne end?
Mirabella and Arsinoe decide to flee to the mainland because even if Katharine is defeated they don’t want to fight each other to the death. Joseph is too weak to travel. Billy says there are excellent surgeons on the mainland that they can bring back to heal him. Joseph wants to go with them.
Katharine is confused about how Arsinoe could possibly be alive. Then she realizes Arsinoe is another poisoner queen in this cycle, which is rare. Then she hears her sisters both escaped on a ship. They know it will sail well using Mirabella’s skills. Pietyr wants to hunt them down. But Katharine thinks they’ll never return and she’ll rule the island alone now without a fight.
They have to sail through a terrible storm but make it through with the help of Mirabella’s magic. After the storm clears, Billy says he can see the shore. They’re nearly to his home! Joseph wasn’t doing well from his wound, and the group discovers he died in Jules’ lap during the storm. Since he’s gone, Jules says she’s sailing home. She and Camden hop in a whaling boat to make the long journey back. Arsinoe is heartbroken her friend is gone.
There you go! That’s what happened in One Dark Throne, the second book in the Three Dark Crowns series!
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