The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross
Filled with deception and intrigue, The Queen's Rising by debut author Rebecca Ross is the first book in a new YA fantasy series about a girl who finds herself at the center of a dangerous plot. It is a tale of rebellion and secret identities. Lyrical writing and a fantastic backstory keep an otherwise slow plot from becoming uneventful.
Debut author Rebecca Ross deftly mixes magic, loyalty, and revenge in this spellbinding YA fantasy about a girl who is thrust into a treacherous plot to overthrow the king.
When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in the southern kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, the solstice does not go according to plan, and she is left without a patron. Months later, Brienna’s life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Though she’s suspicious of his intent, she has no other option, and must accept. But she soon discovers that he has big plans for her future. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. The question is, who will be that queen?
The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross
Published by: HarperTeen on February 6, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
The story opens with a ten years old Brienna arriving with her grandfather at the renowned Magnalia House where she is to become an arden.
An apprentice student who study one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—eventually becoming a master in one, and in turn, gaining the title of mistress of her chosen passion.
Only Brienna is destined to become much more than a master of a passion and readers are given a clue as to what when she asks her grandfather on the fateful day of her arrival at Magnalia House, "Grandpa, who is my father?" A question that leads us to the heart of the story—one of rebellion, magic, and the rightful lineage of queens and the usurper king who now sits on its throne.
Set in the lush southern kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House, the first half of the book is somewhat uneventful as it introduces the protagonist Brienna and her struggle to find her passion.
Although I thought the whole concept of ardens and passions intriguing, I was disappointed when neither were further explored or used as a plot device. Ross does create compelling and strong friendships between fellow ardens, talented women who I can easily imagine companion novels centering about. Their interactions and camaraderie kept things interesting even when the plot was slow to move.
The Queen's Rising is really less of a tale of magic and fantasy but rather one of rebellion and secret identities.
It is not until Brienna masters her 'passion' and receives an offer of patronage from a disgraced lord that the book really takes off. This new direction reveals a rebellion being set into motion with Brienna at its center. It also entices the reader with secret identities, some nice plot twists and a touch of magic.
Ross weaves into The Queen's Rising a fascinating backstory of queens, magic, and dragons.
Some of my favorite scenes in the book dealt with these flashbacks Brienna would have of empowering queens and fierce magic. Of epic battle scenes and dark intrigue. The writing is so vivid that I didn't want them to end.
The vicious king who was missing until near the end.
I love it when a story has an epically bad villain, one you can sink your dislike into, unfortunately, the villain of this story, the current king of Maevana, did not make much of an appearance until the last third or so of the story.
There is a romance threaded throughout the story that is a forbidden one of sorts.
The slowly realized romance between Brienna and her tutor, Cartier, at first felt odd and lukewarm. Because it was a mentor/student situation, it was only recognized when Brienna became a master and was ready to leave the school. But, by the end of the story, between all the plot machinations and rebellion—Cartier and the romance grew on me.
What makes The Queen's Rising an enjoyable read, is the fact that everything is neatly wrapped up in the end and feels complete.
There is still plenty of room for more in the series and I'm excited to see more of Ross' writing as the world-building and lyrical style show exciting promise of what is yet to come.