The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.
When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.
One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.
As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.
With no spoilers, what is this book about?
The back-of-the-book blurb kind of summarizes the plot while not giving much of anything away…this book and series are essentially about two strong girls who are connected by, among other things, the power they wield. It’s typically kind of hard for me to get into stories without a heavy romance subplot, but this series immediately hooked me, so much so that I often found myself having to put it down and take a break, as I was too nervous/invested to find out what was going to happen next.
The intro to this book, and I mean literally the preface, hooked me so intensely that I elected to start reading it before I was meaning to (I was trying to finish another series before starting a new one…); its literally like this book grabbed me by the collar and demanded I read it. The book starts out with Rielle, who we learn is the prophesized “Blood Queen” (and apparently someone who has committed a ton of murder), giving birth to a baby girl, and quite possibly in the process of dying from it, though she soon begins to battle an angel. We don’t really know what’s going on, as we are literally just thrown into this scene. To say this is unexpected in the beginning of a YA book is putting it lightly.
The book then takes us back to two years prior, when Rielle is a teenage girl trying to learn to hide but also control her seemingly endless and vast power, as she is the only person in existence who can control all of the elements (fire, water, air, shadow, metal, and earth). We also soon meet Elianna, a girl who is living 1000 years after the Blood Queen’s reign and downfall (who we know is Rielle). The magic of years past is now nonexistent and stuff of legends. Elianna is an assassin who can’t seem to be harmed or killed without immediately healing, but her only goal is surviving and keeping those around her safe. The character growth and development in this book is by far the best part.
(spoilers in section ahead!)
What’s so interesting is how pure and well-intentioned Rielle, our Blood Queen is, versus Elianna who is cold-blooded, harsh, and sometimes immoral. Throughout the book we go with them on their journeys, Rielle is trying to prove she is the prophesized Sun Queen who is meant to save them all (though we know she will turn out to be quite the opposite), and we get to see all of her powers in all of their glory through the trails she is required to go through. The most interesting part is probably the fact that an angel, Corien, speaks to her in her mind…and it’s…pretty hot. The book really makes you love Rielle and really root for her despite knowing her tragic end, and sometimes it makes you hate Elianna, who we learn towards the end of the book, is Rielle’s daughter, sent into the future, and is actually the long-awaited Sun Queen..and Corien, Rielle’s angel, is desperately searching for her.
I have to say that the pacing wasn’t always great. Though I felt really attached the the characters, it wasn’t that hard for me to put down. It’s possible that this is because I remained so fearful about what bad things would happen to them, that I was cautious about moving through it. But it’s never a great thing if I feel like I can put a book down after reading two chapters a night. Bottom line though, this book called back to me night-after-night, and was a really enjoyable read.
It’s hard to choose between Rielle and Elianna as MVP, because they are both bad asses and were so interesting to read. But Elianna pissed me off several times in this book (trying to betray the rebellion, lying to people who were trying to help her, etc)…and on the other hand, Rielle suffered so much, had a pretty shitty childhood after accidentally killing her mother then being emotionally shunned by her father, and still manages to be so good and try so hard to protect others. Her “relationship” with Corien is also very intriguing, so I’m most interested to see where that goes. Especially since we know shes going to end up doing some terrible things. So…Rielle wins this one.
– First and foremost, every scene where Corien 1) hypes up Rielle in her head during one of her trials or when he laughs when she talks back to the king, etc, 2) tells her how powerful she is and how she is capable of wiping everyone and everything to dust if needed, and 3) also shamelessly flirting with her
– The reveal of Elianna being the sun queen is so powerful
– The culmination of Elianna and Simon flirting, then her finding out what she is to him, and him claiming his life to be hers…I’ll just say it…Hot
“Oh Rielle, said the voice, returning with a swift jolt of anger, please tell me you won’t let them trap you like this.” -Corien reacting to them improsioning Rielle before trials
“Corien’s voice was gentle as her father’s long-ago embrace: ‘Tell me, Rielle.’ ‘I feel…alive.’ ‘And you are. You are more alive than anyone.'” -During trials
“‘They are nothing,’ he told her, his voice rich and low. ‘And you are everything. What must I do to make you understand that?”
“I can send you the feeling of how I would like to touch you” Corien to Reille…UHM
“I want so many things,” she whispered, “And none of them are very good.” – Reille to Audric
“She let out a small, tearful laugh. ‘I thought you’d left me for good.’ ‘Never, Rielle.’ Soft lips brushed against her brow; a hand cupped her face, guiding her up. ‘Never.'”
“Come find me my marvelous girl. Or I will kill them all where they stand.” Corien to Reille…My villain-loving heart…
“I hate him,” she whispered, and it was true. But it was not the whole truth, and she despised herself for it.” -Rielle about Corien
Next up is the second book in the trilogy, Kingsbane! And then Lightbringer, the conclusion to the series, is out in October!