An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure
Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.
With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.
Pros – Daleina is a pragmatic heroine, the forest is dark and full of terrors, Ven’s training program
Cons – Some parts (such as the romance) felt glossed over and “then this happened” storytelling occurs, Ven’s an idiot, EVERYONE I LOVED [spoiler]
Spoiler – I won’t ruin the end, but literally keep a box of tissues handy if you ever get emotional over fictionals
Note -Durst notes this in the author’s note, but originally this wasn’t meant to be book 1, this is sort of a “prequel” to the events Durst was originally writing about. Which…I love Daleina, so I’m glad. Also I don’t trust trees now.
Review – I think, more than anything else in this book, I felt connected to Daleina. Here is a girl who, as a child, did something extraordinary (saved her family from a brutal attack by the spirits in her hometown) and who has been told ‘this makes you special’, but who understands she is just not special. She understands that yes she has this power, and through hardwork and effort she is able to learn to control it and bend it to her will, but she is not the one who is the most special of them all. And she’s okay with that, as long as she still has the power to help people.
Power in and of itself doesn’t draw Daleina in, its the ability to use that power to help her people that draws Daleina in. And its hard. Especially after her closest friend leaves the Academy, when people start dying and Daleina is chosen as an Heir by the most difficult guy ever. When she sees the one person who SHOULD be saving them all repeatedly step back and give in. As her friends and mentors die.
The easiest time that Daleina has is when Ven is training her. When they’re traipsing through the trees and he’s pushing her to focus, concentrate, do better. Its coming back and learning hard truths that really make her work. Recognizing that her best is still not the best.
Ven annoyed me at times – he’s quite blind to many of the Queen’s flaws and illogic. Even if we didn’t know what the Queen was up to on the sidelines, she is just so…so compromised. Vain. Ambitious. Glory-hungry. She wants to always be the Miracle Queen and will not let anyone stop her. Ven, who spoke up ONCE and pissed her off ONCE, wants to believe his banishment was part of a larger plan of hers. And it was. Just not the one he thought it was.
Merecot, who leaves early on, but manages to be a thorn in the side of the Queen anyhow, I wanted to know more about. I wanted to know who she was, what she was about. All the power and so little imagination and willingness to understand. She’s a bit of a sociopath (she recognized what she was wrong, but at the same time so what?).
And there’s a romance, of a kind. Daleina manages it as pragmatically as she can. She doesn’t fall into sudden overwhelming lust. She doesn’t let it go to her head. She enjoys herself, enjoys the romance and doesn’t let it get in the way of her larger plans in life. Its not a do or die situation for her.
I’ll warn for one particular kind of death…it made me extremely claustrophobic and while I applaud Durst for making it so REAL feeling, I also want to send her my therapy bill for the nightmares it induced.
As an opening to a new series this worked really well. It gave us such a wonderful idea of the world (the spirits want to kill youuuuu), a heroine who isn’t perfect and doesn’t want to be perfect and a rather staggering body count considering.
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Published by: Harper Voyager
Release: September 20,2016
Series: The Queens of Renthia Book 1
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