Thursday, June 29, 2017

ARC Review: The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst

The Reluctant Queen
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Series: Queens of Renthia (Book 2)
Publication: Harper Voyager (July 4, 2017)

Description: Filled with political intrigue, violent magic, and malevolent spirits, the mesmerizing second book in Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia epic fantasy trilogy.

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 . . .
And those spirits want to kill you.
It’s the first lesson that every Renthian learns.

Not long ago, Daleina used her strength and skill to survive those spirits and assume the royal throne. Since then, the new queen has kept the peace and protected the humans of her land. But now for all her power, she is hiding a terrible secret: she is dying. And if she leaves the world before a new heir is ready, the spirits that inhabit her beloved realm will run wild, destroying her cities and slaughtering her people.

Naelin is one such person, and she couldn’t be further removed from the Queen—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her world is her two children, her husband, and the remote village tucked deep in the forest that is her home, and that’s all she needs. But when Ven, the Queens champion, passes through the village, Naelin’s ambitious husband proudly tells him of his wife’s ability to control spirits—magic that Naelin fervently denies. She knows that if the truth of her abilities is known, it will bring only death and separation from those she loves.

But Ven has a single task: to find the best possible candidate to protect the people of Aratay. He did it once when he discovered Daleina, and he’s certain he’s done it again. Yet for all his appeals to duty, Naelin is a mother, and she knows her duty is to her children first and foremost. Only as the Queen’s power begins to wane and the spirits become emboldened—even as ominous rumors trickle down from the north—does she realize that the best way to keep her son and daughter safe is to risk everything.

Sarah Beth Durst established a place of dark wonder in The Queen of Blood, and now the stakes are even higher as the threat to the Queen and her people grows both from within and beyond the borders of Aratay in this riveting second novel of the Queens of Renthia series.

My Thoughts: The book blurb gives a very good picture of the plot. This was an engaging epic fantasy novel. I love the world building. A world where spirits inhabit nature and want to kill all humans is intriguing.

This story begins with Daleina as queen and still grieving the loss of all her friends at the Coronation massacre which led to her being the only survivor and the new queen. She is trying to get used to that despite her fears that her powers are are not strong enough to keep control over the vengeful spirits when she is diagnosed with a fatal disease. If she dies before finding an heir, the spirits will run wild and kill everyone.

While Daleina's friend Hamon searches for a cure, Ven and the other Champions need to scour the land for candidates who might be able to be the heir. This is complicated by the fact the so many died in the massacre. Ven searches in remote areas and finds Naelin. Naelin has great power but she is used to hiding it. She doesn't want to be a queen. She is a mother of two and happy with her life. Protecting her children is her main goal.

Naelin is a wonderful character. She's a great mother. She's fiercely protective of her children. It takes a lot of convincing before Ven gets her to come to the capitol for testing.

The plot gets even more twisty when it is learned that Dalein was poisoned and is not naturally ill. Now the rush is on to find an antidote to an unknown poison. Complicating things even more is that a fellow student of Daleins is now the queen of a neighboring country and seems to be planning to invade Dalein's.

This was an excellent story. I loved the action which was non-stop. I loved the characters especially Hamon's unique mother and Naelin's children. I loved Naelin's budding romance with Ven.

Favorite Quote:
"Do these kinds of conversations happen often with you?" Ven asked Naelin.

Naelin smiled, feeling better. "When you have children, you find yourself uttering sentences you've never imagined anyone would need to say, such as 'You can't go to school naked' and 'Please don't put a chipmunk in your father's shoes.'"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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