Quote1.png "Anyone can betray anyone." Quote2.png
Julian Jacos to Mare Barrow

Red Queen is the first novel in the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood - those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own - an ability she didn't know she had. Except... her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard - the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actins put into motion a deadly and violent dance, putting prince against prince - and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivd fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

Plot[1][edit | edit source]

Mare Barrow is born and raised in the Kingdom of Norta, which is characterized by a sharp class divide. Silvers, who have silver blood, live lives of glamour and riches. Reds, who have red blood, live in poverty in villages like the Stilts. Mare, a Red who grew up in the Stilts, must pick pockets to support her family. She lives with her mother, Ruth Barrow, who disapproves of her daughter's quasi-profession, her younger sister, Gisa Barrow, who has a job as an apprentice to a seamstress, and her father, Daniel Barrow, who uses a wheelchair and has an iron lung because he came home injured from war. Mare's older brothers, Bree, Tramy, and Shade, are absent because they, too, have been conscripted to act as faceless bodies in the ongoing war. The war has been raging on the border of Norta and the Kingdom of the Lakelands for over a hundred years, and Reds have no stake in it - except as human fuel for the Silvers to keep their war going. Any Red who is not apprenticed or employed by the age of eighteen is sent to the war front. Most either do not come back or come back severely injured. The Silvers have the resources to heal many of these injuries, but they choose not to invest in doing so, because there is a steady supply of fresh Reds from which to draw.

The Silvers are able to use the Reds in this way because the Silvers' abilities to manipulate fire, metal, earth, water, and more has given them enough power over the gift-less Reds to force them into poverty. The Silvers stage Feats of First Friday every month in giant arenas in Red villages, where Silvers fight one another. The spectacle is entertaining, but Mare knows that it doubles as a reminder to the Reds that they are powerless in the face of the Silvers and their abilities.

When Mare's best friend, Kilorn Warren, tells her that his master, Cully, has died in an accident and he will be conscripted, she decides that she will do everything she can to protect Kilorn. She goes to Will Whistle, the man who usually buys her stolen goods to sell on the black market and asks if he can smuggle her and Kilorn out of the Stilts so that they might go on the run from the Silvers. Will refuses at first, but then introduces Mare to Farley, a woman who claims to be a first-rate smuggler. Farley accepts the task of smuggling Mare and Kilorn out of the Stilts, but only if Mare pays her two thousand crowns in the next two days. This sum is a veritable fortune to Mare, but she accepts Farley's offer, resolving to steal the money.

Mare asks Gisa, who works in the Silver city of Summerton nearby to help her sneak into the city. While Mare is attempting to pick pockets in a bar in Summerton, a broadcast comes on the television. Mare sees Farley claiming credit for a terrorist on the Silvers, on behalf of a group called the Scarlet Guard. The Guard is allegedly working to advance Red rights. Chaos breaks out in the bar and all over the city as Reds try to flee and Silvers capture them, torturing them for information they do not have on the Scarlet Guard. Mare finds Gisa and they have almost managed to make it out of the city when Gisa decides to pick a pocket for the money for Kilorn. Less adept than Mare, she is caught. As punishment, a Silver security officer smashes Gisa's sewing hand. Her injury means that she will not be able to continue as an apprentice anymore, leaving her incapable of feeding her family.

That night, feeling that she has betrayed her family by causing their family to lose their sole income, Mare sneaks off to some bars on the edge of the Stilts. She doesn't go to drink, but rather to steal from the patrons. The last person whose pocket she picks catches her. Instead of getting angry, he gives her a silver coin, walks her home, and gives her a second silver coin. While walking her home, he introduces himself as Cal and says that he works at the palace. She ends up breaking down after her stressful day and tells him everything that's happened. Mare does not think she will ever hear anything from him again, but in the morning, security officers and a royal servant named Ann Walsh show up at the Barrow house to escort Mare to the palace. At first, she is terrified that she is about to be tortured for information on Farley. However, she soon learns that Cal has arranged for her to have a serving job at the palace.

Mare's first task as a royal servant is to serve the Silver nobles at an event called Queenstrial. At Queenstrial, the eligible young Silver noblewomen compete for the prince's hand in marriage. The event is in held in an arena similar to, but far more ornate than, the one in her village used for First Feats. When the royal family enters, Mare feels shocked and betrayed to find that the crown prince is Cal. As she reels from this discovery, she observes the young women competing in the arena below, separated from the crowd by a vast electric shield. It strikes her that the Silvers are more powerful than she ever thought.

The last contestant, Evangeline Samos, seems favored to win. She is a magnetron, someone with the ability to manipulate and control metals. Evangeline makes the entire arena begin to collapse on itself. Mare falls over the edge and has resigned herself to dying upon collision with the electric shield. When she collides with it however, it is not Mare but rather the shield that suffers the most damage. She seems to burn through it. Before all the Silver Elite's eyes, she falls through the shield to the arena floor below. Evangeline, terrified, goes on thee offensive. Mare deflects her shards of metal with some sort of electric shield of her own. King Tiberias Calore VI yells for Sentinels to seize Mare, and she runs. However, Cal catches her by using his ability as a burner, a manipulator of fire, to knock her out with smoke.

Mare wakes to find that Queen Elara Merandus has invaded her mind using her ability as a whisper, someone who can read and control minds. Elara and the king seem threatened by Mare. They tell her that from now on, they will conceal her identity as a Red by peddling the story that she is a Silver named Mareena Titanos, whose parents died in the war during her infancy. They will claim she was raised by Reds who concealed her identity from her until now. She will marry the second-born prince, Maven, and live the rest of her life as a Silver. The king thinks she will be able to calm the unrest that resulted from the Scarlet Guard attack. Mare agrees, but demands that her brothers be sent home from the war. The king agrees.

Mare does not feel like she is living the fairy tale Elara and the king claim, but rather like she is a prisoner. As the learns the way of life at the royal court, she constantly looks over her shoulder, sure that she is going to be betrayed by someone close to her. She begins training with the other Silver children to control her ability, including Maven and Cal, and ends up growing close to both of them. Cal sneaks her out of the palace to see her family one last time since she never got to say goodbye. When she gets home, Bree and Tramy are there, and she is happy to see they have been returned to the family. Mare learns that Shade has been killed in the war before his conscription could be ended. Kilorn tells her that he will join the Scarlet Guard to stop what Mare is being forced into. Mare joins the Scarlet Guard herself, in anger and grief over the loss of her brother.

Mare eventually decides to trust Maven, who claims to desire equality for Reds and Silvers. Maven joins the Scarlet Guard as well. They help Farley plan an attack on a few of the Silvers who have key roles in the war during the Parting Ball. During the attack, three of the four targets are killed, but a bomb also explodes, killing many others, including children. Farley, Kilorn, and other members of the Guard are captured and Cal tortures Farley for information, but she doesn't give in. Maven and Mare must stand aside and act like they know nothing. Mare enlists the help of her tutor Julian Jacos, because he is a singer, someone who can control the minds of others. Julian uses his ability on the guards to help the prisoners escape. Before Farley escapes, Mare asks her about the bomb as their plan was only to kill the four targets. Farley swears it wasn't the Scarlet Guard.

Julian knows that Queen Elara will discover it was him who helped the prisoners escape and knows he must flee as well. Before escaping, he tells Mare that she is "neither Red nor Silver, but stronger than both" and that he has been researching her DNA and discovered there are many others just like her, including her brother Shade. Mare realizes this is why Shade was killed. The next morning Mare learns that it wasn't a bomb, but a gas leak that ignited while Cal was using his ability to capture the prisoners.

The royal court returns to the capital, Archeon, where the main royal residence is Whitefire Palace. Farley manages to meet with Mare and Maven and takes them on an "undertrain" to Naercey, a supposedly irradiated city. It turns out it isn't plagued by radiation at all and this is where the Scarlet Guard, along with any Reds seeking refuge, have come. The Scarlet Guard has created technology that makes the area seem like it has radiation when the Silvers scan it with their machines.

At their meeting with Farley, Mare gives her the notebook containing the list of names Julian gave her and tells her that they could build an army that could win the war. Farley tells her they don't have enough time for that, since the Silvers' are retaliating harshly after the attack. Maven says that they could hit the Silvers' at their heart by forcing the king to surrender, since he controls the war. If they force the king to declare it, the war ends. Farley and Mare state that there's no way they would get past all the guards, but Maven knows Cal is in love with Mare, as he is too. Maven says that if it were between Cal's crown or saving Mare, who would be executed as a traitor, Cal would always choose Mare and convince his army to step down and not attack. They all agree to the plan.

Upon returning to Whitefire Palace, Mare begins trying to seduce Cal. Part of her despises him for the way he believes any change in the status quo would result in too much death and for his surety that Silvers are superior to Reds, there is a part of her that also remembers how kind he has been to her and the way he's shown her he loves her. Mare realizes her words are not totally false.

The Scarlet Guard blows up Archeon Bridge, the bridge that leads to the palace and all government buildings. When the Silver army begins mobilizing, Cal included, Mare pleads with him that he should choose to "make a new world, a better world, and choose her." The plan goes awry when he doesn't listen to her and instead puts two and two together, and realizes that she is with the Scarlet Guard and is partly responsible for all the deaths at the Sun Shooting and the other attacks. He arrests her and Maven with the help of Rane Arven, a silent. His ability allows him to take away the abilities of others.

Cal brings them to the king and queen. King Tiberias declares that Mare and Maven must be executed. Maven reveals that he has been working with his mother, Queen Elara, the whole time. They have been planning a coup, not to instate a more just regime for Reds, but to put Maven on the throne. Queen Elara uses her ability to control the minds of the king and Cal. She forces Cal to kill his father while the security cameras in the room film. She then yells out in shock and grief that Cal has killed the king. Cal and Mare try to flee but are surrounded and captured.

They are taken to the Bowl of Bones, the arena for Silvers who have committed treason. Maven visits them and taunts them before telling them they will be killed in the arena and their deaths will be broadcast across Norta. When Cal and Mare are brought up from the cells, they are dressed in cheap versions of training outfits and learn that while Cal will be given his flame bracelets, so he will have access to his ability, Rane Arven will use his ability to keep Mare powerless.

Their fight begins. Mare sees that they are fighting against Evangeline and her brother Ptolemus, as well as Lord Osanos, a nymph, Stralian Haven, a shadow, and Ryker Rhambos, a strongarm. They evade their executioners as long as they can. Cal tells Mare to stay behind him and he will try to protect her as long as possible. Mare tricks one of Ryker into throwing a spear at her while she's in front of Arven, and at the last second she moves out of the way, causing the spear to kill Arven. Her abilities return and she beings fighting with Cal, starting with killing Ryker. Meanwhile, Maven has had the arena spectators evacuated and cut the broadcast because he doesn't want people to see that Mare is a Red who has abilities. Mare kills Lord Osanos, and Evangeline flees the arena before Mare can kill her. Ptolemus is let go by Cal who runs after his sister.

Maven sends in guards and soldiers to kill Mare and Cal. During the fight, a storm had been brewing, and Mare uses her ability to control the lightning to destroy the arena so they could escape. They can't. Maven tells the guards and soldiers to shoot them, and Mare knows it's over. But when she hears gunfire, she realizes it's coming from underneath the arena. Hands reach up through a hole in the ground and grab her and Cal.

Mare wakes up on the undertrain, headed to Naercey. She discovers that Shade is alive and on the train with them. He reveals that he has the ability to teleport, and that's why the Silvers were not able to kill him when they tried. Cal is tied up, and although Mare tries to convince Farley to let him go, stating that he saved her life in the Bowl of Bones, Farley says she won't even trust another Silver. Mare realizes that while he could burn through the chains binding him at any time, he has chosen not to because he has nowhere else to go, as he is now considered a traitor. Mare and Cal exchange looks. They know they both have unfinished business with Maven and won't stop until they stop him. She also knows that while she and Cal might have feelings for each other, they have betrayed one another too many times. But as they share the goal of ending Maven, they will continue working together.

Characters[edit | edit source]

Newbloods[edit | edit source]

Reds[edit | edit source]

Silvers[edit | edit source]

Editions[edit | edit source]

The Collector's Edition of Red Queen was published on October 31, 2017. It contains six pieces of color fan art, a redesigned cover, red-stained edges, and a new look behind the scenes of the Scarlet Guard. It comes in a printed case.

References[edit | edit source]

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