Title: A Queen in Hiding
Author: Sarah Kozloff
Publisher: TOR books
Publication date: Jan 21st 2020
Tour Date: Jan 21-27th
Orphaned, exiled and hunted, Cérulia, Princess of Weirandale, must master the magic that is her birthright, become a ruthless guerilla fighter, and transform into the queen she is destined to be.
But to do it she must win the favour of the spirits who play in mortal affairs, assemble an unlikely group of rebels, and wrest the throne from a corrupt aristocracy whose rot has spread throughout her kingdom.
The current Queen is certain that her advisors are trying to oust her. Her magic, gifted from the water spirit of their Kingdom, is not as strong as her mother’s. and her daughter shows no sign of the gift. Suddenly a long treaty with a foreign power crumples, bringing war and she is helpless to stop it. She takes flight, hiding her daughter among peasants and heads for battle. But her Council is not going to let her go that easily, they need the child. Especially now that war is coming.
Men are preparing for war even as the Lord Regent is subjugating the people. Everyone wants to fight but with the Princella in hiding, there is no one to rally them together.
(You try condensing 500 pages into a brief bit without spoilers!)
There are several different voices in the book who narrate their part and the book takes place over several different regions of the kingdom. The story also jumps time, sometimes months, sometimes years and so it was a little difficult to keep up. That said there was enough of a differential in the voices to make it pretty clear that it was a different narrator.
The author was excellent at fleshing out the characters and making them real. The ‘heroes’ had plenty of flaws and yet were endearing enough for you to root for. I loved the little Princella’s stubbornness and childish behaviour. She is a child, even though she’s royalty and it was nice to have some examples of that.
There were other characters who had their own chapters, and yet weren’t main protagonists, and these became my favourites. Tiklok especially was adorable and I felt so bad for the abuse he had suffered in his life.
Even the ‘bad guys’ had enough humanity so as not to be cliche or standardised. In fact, there were a few instances where you understood the reasoning behind their machinations which was a nice change.
(Or just means that I am closer to becoming a villain that I thought. Is empathising with the bad guys a bad thing? Am I on a slippery slope to becoming evil?)
The map at the front was super helpful (and we all know how much I love a good map) as the story takes place all over the nine realms. But even though it was over 500 pages it went in a snap because you couldn’t stop reading.
Every chapter was either an insight into court life, drama and intrigue, or it developed the Kingdom and brought a new character and their intricate lives into full focus and I loved this.
Two things bothered me; Firstly we were told in the blurb that the Princella is an orphan yet the first half of the book her parents are very much alive.
It made it hard to bond with those characters since we knew they were going to snuff it.
Second, I didn’t realise that there was a glossary of who the characters were at the end of the book. I didn’t realise it was there until I had finished the book and had had to make a few notes for myself over who was who. I felt dumb.
But these are minor grievances in an otherwise fantastic reading experience.
TOR books offered me an ARC in exchange for a fair review. I love fantasy so I readily agreed, especially when I realised that this was a new sort of series. A binge series. The Author is going to release one book a month so there is no wait in between for everyone to forget who half of the characters are.
Finally a fantasy series for those forgetful ones among us who have the best intentions but a brain like a sieve.
I love epic fantasy but when books are 500 pages and then a years wait (or longer, George R R Martin I’m looking at you.) It’s easy to lose the momentum and if there isn’t time to reread before the next one comes out people often find themselves spending the first half of the new book going “who was that? why are they important, was that a thing?”
So in January we have A Queen in Hiding, followed by A Queen of Raiders in Feb, A Broken Queen in March and The Cerulean Queen in April.
The plot was intricate yet engaging. The characters were all interesting and the magic system was unique and beautifully executed. I can’t wait for the next instalment.