Goodreads: Long May She Reign
Published: February 21, 2017
Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.
Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.
Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.
As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.
Long May She Reign is standalone fantasy nearly at its finest.* Thomas creates a captivating world with high stakes, where a girl who never wanted to be queen must find a way to hold her country together in a time of uncertainty and danger. A fine mix of romance, adventure, intrigue, and science make the fresh enough to stand out in a crowd of fantasy novels.
“Strong female character” has been a buzz phrase probably since readers were introduced to Katniss Everdeen, but the term fits Freya like a glove–all the more because Freya herself probably would not think so. As twenty-third in line to inherit the throne, Freya never considered herself important. She never paid attention to the rules of etiquette and the gossip of the court; she focused on her friendship and pursuing her passion of scientific research. So when she’s thrust upon the throne without warning, she’s uncertain. But watching her rise to the occasion and figure out how to use her personal strengths to succeed, instead of trying to emulate other people, is a great pleasure.
The plot is well-placed, and it wonderfully combines mystery with intrigue and looming war. There is also a dash of romance, though it’s not the focus of the story, and Freya’s personal growth arc. Something is always happening, but not too much, and I felt events were only rushed with one of the scenes near the end. And while I had some guesses who was responsible for the massacre that opens the novel, I was pleased that Thomas kept me unsure and altering my hunch.
Additionally, the book is smart, and not just because Freya is an accomplished scientist. Thomas delves into the intricacies of managing a kingdom, from taxes to people management to battle strategies. It felt as though a lot of research went into the book but it all came out naturally on the page. I like books where I feel like I have learned new things or where I can tell that the author knows a lot about their own genre and topic; this is one of them.
At some point while reading, I considered giving the novel five stars but decided not to because there are a couple well-worn YA cliches thrown in that I could have done without. Yet for the most part, the plot kept me on my toes and a much of it was unique. This may end up being one of my favorite reads of the year.
*I know some readers have been disappointed because it’s not necessarily flashy high fantasy with hand waving powers and magical creatures. The fantasy element is that it happens in an invented world that, like much fantasy, is set in some time that’s somewhere between medieval and Regency in inspiration. Personally, I don’t think “fantasy” necessitates magic, so as long as you’re not expecting any, you should be fine on that count.