Welcome back to Lunarthon! In this (our very last readalong!) we’re reading chapters 66-96 of Winter, looking at the final showdown between Team Cinder and Queen Levana and saying goodbye to all the characters we’ve spent so much time getting to know.
In a race to save Scarlet and Winter and raise an army to put a stop to Levana’s coronation ceremony Cinder and her friends split up once again, with Cress and Thorne infiltrating the palace, while Cinder, Jacin and Iko steal the Letumosis cure, heal Scarlet and Winter, and bring the people of Luna to Levana’s gates.
“Hello dearest Aunt Levana,” she said, her tone light and taunting. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to make sure I had your full attention. First, allow me to congratulate you. It seems you finally have everything you’ve always wanted. Now, it’s my turn.”
There was a long pause. The speakers crackled.
Cinder’s voice was no longer jovial when she said, “You have ten minutes to come to the front gates of your palace and surrender.”
The battle outside the palace gates culminates in a shockingly brutal stand-off between Levana and Cinder. Even in this re-read I found chapters 89 and 90 painful to read. Team Cinder have always been stronger together, but against Levana, who can control Eartherns so easily, Cinder’s friends become a major liability. Meyer spares no punches, bringing all of her fan-favourite characters to the brink of death, as Scarlet, Wolf, Thorne and Cress are caught in the crossfire between the two queens. But it’s the final moment of Levana and Cinder’s showdown that brings the biggest surprise.
She kept hold of Levana’s trigger finger but allowed Levana to lower the gun. Cinder held out her hand and Levana stared at it for a moment before reaching forward and setting the gun into Cinder’s palm.
In the same movement, she grabbed the forgotten knife and lurched forward, driving the blade into Cinder’s heart.
Thanks to her prosthetic cyborg heart Cinder survives the attack, and it’s the last few chapters, while Cinder is recovering and adjusting to her new life, that show us just how great a ruler Cinder could be, in peace as well as in wartime. Cinder uses her new platform to champion equal rights for cyborgs and put an end to the Lunar gift being used to do harm. But most significantly, she recognises that the people of Earth and Luna could never truly be safe with Luna as a monarchy and vows to abdicate her throne and turn her country into a Republic at the earliest opportunity.
She spun the cumbersome, hateful foot in her fingers. Ever since she could remember, it had been a burden. A constant reminder that she was worthless, she was unimportant, she was nothing but a cyborg.
She held the foot over the water and let go.
What did you make of that ending? Sound off in the comments below – and come back next week for a very special author feature and giveaway!