Queen's Rising, The

Rebecca Ross
Grave Mercy meets Red Queen in this epic debut fantasy, inspired by Renaissance France, about an outcast who finds herself bound to a disgraced lord and entangled in his plot to overthrow the current king. Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions--art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge--Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, Brienna's greatest fear comes true--she is left without a patron. Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana--the rival kingdom of Valenia--and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the throne. And others are involved--some closer to Brienna than she realizes. And now, with war brewing, Brienna must choose which side she will remain loyal to: passion or blood.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2020-07-02

First Impressions

I knew right off the bat that I was going to like The Queen's Rising. This year has such a wealth of high fantasy coming out, and I've enjoyed discovering every one! Also, lost queens and princesses are my jam! I started reading the book pretty close to the deadline for the review, so I knew I would have to read it fast, but that didn't end up being a problem because I absolutely devoured it. I read The Queen's Rising in one day, and would have read it in one sitting if I hadn't had to go to work. My one major problem was that the beginning of the book (at least the ARC version) had a family tree and such that contained MAJOR spoilers for the book. I love that they were included, but I hope that they are moved to the back of the book for the final version. While it is the first book in a series, The Queen's Rising reads like a standalone novel but will still leave readers hungering for more in that world.

Characters

The main character is Brienna. She has grown up not quite knowing what and who she wants to be. Brienna is also a child of two worlds. Her parents, neither of whom she knows, came from two different countries. Her mother died when she was young, and her grandfather refuses to tell her who her father is. This creates so conflict for her, but she accepts his response to her inquiries that her father isn't worth knowing. Brienna often doubts herself, but within reason. She doesn't mope around, despairing about everything she isn't. Brienna underestimates her value, but still knows she has it.

The chemistry between Brienna and her teacher Cartier is clear very early in the book. She has an attraction to him that she doesn't even realize she has. It's a slow burn romance, and it was fun to explore their relationship as the book progressed, especially once they move beyond the teacher-student phase.

World Building

While the world is high fantasy, in many ways it is still distinctly like our own. One of the major things is that they use the same calendar we do. From the descriptions of places, as a whole it reminds me of the UK. Maevana very much reminds me of Scotland, and Valenia of England. I felt that the world building was strong, though a little heavy-handed at times. There was often the need to remind the reader that someone was "acting Maevan" or "acting Valenian". I feel like the amount of times that phrase was used could have been lessened, especially once the world building was set up.

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