Goodreads: The Queen’s Rising
Series: Untitled trilogy #1
Source: Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review
Published: Feb. 6, 2018
Brienna has grown up in Valenia, never knowing the name of her father, who hails from the neighboring land of Maevana. Still, she always feels split. But for now she has to focus on attempting to passion–proving that she has a talent for knowledge and being chosen by a patron. However, when no patron chooses her, she chooses as her patron a lord who wishes to overthrow the king of Maevana. She dreams of the day the rightful queen will rule over Maevana again, but, as she spins her webs of intrigue, she soon finds that she may have entangled herself too far.
I really wanted to love The Queen’s Rising. It has all the elements I love in a YA fantasy–magic, court intrigue, and a disinherited royal claiming their own. Unfortunately, however, the book feels a bit like a jumble, almost like it’s more than one story crammed into one volume. Furthermore, the pacing is off, the book betrays its own plot twists through its formatting, and the romance is a little too forbidden for me to support it. I kept on reading because the premise of the book had me convinced I had to like this book. In the end, however, I had to be honest with myself and recognize that, objectively speaking, the book is poorly constructed.
Writing a summary for The Queen’s Rising proved a challenge for me because I could not figure out how to connect the various threads of the book. About a third of the book focuses on Brienna’s education at what is essentially an elite boarding school where young women study for seven years to master one of the five passions–art, drama, music, wit, or knowledge. Brienna has spent four years studying the first four and now has to cram seven years of learning into three in order to passion. This makes it seem like the book is about Brienna’s coming-of-age or her intellectual development or her subsequent passion career. Actually, I can’t really figure out why this part of the book is there because Brienna does not do anything with her education, really, after she “graduates” or passions. Instead, she gets involved in a secret rebellion to overthrow the king of the neighboring country. (It’s actually quite odd how many Valenians are personally invested in overthrowing the regime of a neighboring kingdom. I’m truly surprised the 1) follow foreign politics and 2) care about what happens in other places.)
Once the story moves to the political intrigue, the pace seems to speed up abruptly. We spent about 160 pages on Brienna’s education (the bulk of which focused on eight days leading up to her passion ceremony) and then suddenly we can overthrow a king in much less time? To achieve this, personal relationships were formed amazingly quickly, alliances formed and shifted at lightning speed, and treachery was revealed and overcome in a few pages. Sadly, this did not come across as exciting, but rather as messy.
The excitement is hindered in other ways, as well. There are some identity reveals that are, one assumes, meant to be surprising. However, the book conveniently begins with a series of family trees revealing the secret identities of many, as well as Brienna’s true heritage. Watching Brienna reel in shock over the revelations just does not have the same impact when the reader has known everything even before they began reading the story!
I’d go into more detail about why the romance is completely inappropriate and vaguely disturbing, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers. However, look forward to an upcoming spoiler-filled review to enjoy my full shock and horror.
The Queen’s Rising has all the trademarks of a typical YA fantasy, however, so I imagine it will delight the majority of its readers. Some may find the book a little too predictable, a little too like every other YA fantasy out there. But I foresee this one selling very well, despite its many flaws.