Tag: epic fantasy

Book Review: The Rightful Queen, by Isabelle Steiger

the rightfulqueen
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Rightful Queen   
Author: Isabelle Steiger
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:   4 out of 5

The Rightful Queen returns readers to the territories of Lantistyne. Imperator Elgar has brought war to the continent once again, and the rogues of the Dragon’s Head, once forced into his service, are scattered to the winds, wracked by tragedy and struggling to reunite.

While a cornered King Kelken grows increasingly desperate, Arianrod Margraine, the brilliant but outmanned marquise of Esthrades, devises a plan to stretch Elgar’s forces thin and turn the tide of battle in their favor. But when the sheltered queen of Issamira is driven from her throne by a long-simmering plot and the use of forbidden magic, Arianrod faces an even more pressing crisis.

Adora Avestri is more than the rightful queen of Issamira, more even than the key to defeating Elgar on the field—she has drawn the attention of beings older than Lantistyne itself, who possess hidden knowledge Arianrod has long desired. But if the queen and the marquise hope to survive long enough to learn it, Adora must find the strength to claim her birthright once and for all, and Arianrod must match wits and magic with a foe she has never before encountered: an equal.

I haven’t read the first book in this series. Sometimes, that’s not a problem at all. Sometimes, it’s impossible. This time…I should have read the first book—it would have made getting the politics straight and keeping the characters sorted out much easier—but I was still able to enjoy this book.

I enjoyed the diverse cultures and characters—no cookie-cutter types here. I was intrigued by all the storylines, which is unusual for me with an ensemble cast, but I enjoyed reading them all. The cultures where quite varied and detailed, and I was fully immersed in the world and the story.

Isabelle Steiger lives in New York. The Rightful Queen is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Queen of the Unwanted, by Jenna Glass

queen of the unwanted
Image belongs to Del Rey.

Title:  Queen of the Unwanted
AuthorJenna Glass
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

In this world, women have no rights. If their husband or father decide they’ve disgraced their family—for anything from not having a child quickly enough to a sideways look—they are sent away, usually to one of the Abbeys, where they are forced to pleasure any man who desires. They have no rights. They have no futures. They have no magic. At least, they didn’t…

Alys is queen of Women’s Well, a new colony where women have equal rights after the Women’s War. But Alys can’t bring herself to care about anything besides the loss of her daughter—and her own desire for vengeance. Her mother gave her life for the spell that gave women magic, but Alys finds it hard to see past her personal tragedy.

Faced with opposition from men who still believe women have no rights, Ellin struggles to rule her land—and to change the status quo for men unused to women with power.

An abbess thinks she can reverse the spell that changed the world—but all she really wants is to keep the power she has gained through cunning and treachery.

Unless these women can find a way to work together, they will lose everything they have gained.

I haven’t read The Women’s War—yet—but I still had no trouble following what was going on in Queen of the Unwanted. (I would recommend reading the first book, though, as I’m sure this novel would be much richer with that introduction.) Excellent writing and worldbuilding, and a great mix of characters:  some I liked, some I disliked, some I actively hated. I recommend reading this—and I can’t wait to go back and read the first novel.

Jenna Glass has been writing books since the fifth grade. Queen of the Unwanted is her newest novel, the second book in The Women’s War series.

(Galley courtesy of Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Seven Endless Forests, by April Genevieve Tucholke

seven endless forests
Image belongs to Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR).

Title:  Seven Endless Forests
AuthorApril Genevieve Tucholke
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

On the heels of a devastating plague, Torvi’s sister, Morgunn is stolen from the family farm by Uther, a flame-loving Fremish wolf-priest who leads a pack of ragged, starving girls. Torvi leaves the only home she’s ever known, and joins a shaven-skulled druid and a band of roaming Elsh artists known as the Butcher Bards. They set out on a quest to rescue Torvi’s sister, and find a mythical sword. 

On their travels, Torvi and her companions will encounter magical night wilds and mystical Drakes who trade in young men. They will sing rowdy Elshland ballads in a tree-town tavern, and find a mysterious black tower in an Endless Forest. They will fight alongside famous Vorseland archers and barter with Fremish wizards. They will feast with rogue Jade Fell children in a Skal Mountain cave, and seek the help of a Pig Witch. They will face wild, dangerous magic that leads to love, joy, tragedy, and death. 

Torvi set out to rescue a sister, but she may find it’s merely the first step toward a life that is grander and more glorious than anything she could have imagined.

I thought The Boneless Mercies—Tucholke’s previous book set in this world—was phenomenal, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. The story opens with tragedy…and tragedy shadows the entire story. Parts of this are magical and enchanting, parts are inspiring, sad, evocative; basically the whole gamut of emotion lives here. The ending felt a bit rushed to me, but that was because it was more of a summary of events instead of actually telling the story (and to set things up for the next book, I imagine). Nevertheless, I highly recommend this!

April Genevieve Tucholke lives in Oregon. Seven Endless Forests is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Master of Sorrows, by Justin Call

master of sorrows
Image belongs to Blackstone Publishing.

Title:  Master of Sorrows
AuthorJustin Call
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

Annev de Breth isn’t like the other students in his class. Seventeen years ago, in the village of Chaenbalu, he was believed to executed for the taint he was born with—proven by his partially-missing arm—and raised by those who killed his parents. Now he’s struggling to become one of the Academy’s warrior-thieves, along with all the other boys who were stolen from their families years ago.

And Annev doesn’t know his own history.

Raised by his priestly mentor, who doesn’t believe magic is bad—unlike those surrounding him, who believe it evil—and with his missing arm disguised, Annev struggles with remaining true to himself and his friends—or stepping into his future as a master at the Academy. Will he do as the masters ask, betraying his friends and murdering a man to prove his abilities, or will he finally learn the truth of who he is?

While Master of Sorrows had some cliched elements—a young orphan raised by a wise mentor who has secret magical abilities—it’s actually a unique take on this trope. Annev is a conflicted character, and he struggles with this conflict between his childhood dreams of becoming one of the Academy’s masters and what his mentor teaches him throughout the book. The friendships are real and believable, and the action just worked for me, making this a book I finished in one sitting.

Justin Call has been making up stories since he was five. Master of Sorrows is his debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Blackstone Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)