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The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst

The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth DurstThe Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst
Published by HarperCollins on May 15th 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 432
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I suppose I’ll need Jastra’s plan after all. Pity.
It would have been nice to avoid murdering anyone.

 

I have really enjoyed this series. I came to the end of The Queen of Sorrow and, aptly, felt a lot of sorrow at having to leave these characters behind. At least the author’s note promises a standalone set in the same world – in Belene this time – so I will get to return to, and explore more of, Renthia.

I’m not sure why these books have a fairly modest number of fans compared to other fantasy novels. Perhaps the covers are not dazzling enough. Perhaps it is the lack of the usual tropes like love triangles, and such. Or perhaps it is the book’s crossover appeal that makes it difficult to market. Though this series is as clean as any YA fantasy (indeed, far less graphic than recent Maas books), it feels more mature, the characters are older, and it is them – not the action – that drives the story.

This is a series about politics and scheming and the dynamics between powerful women. Daleina is a queen who has never really had enough power for the job; Naelin is extremely powerful but untrained and, more than any kingdom or spirit, the one thing she cares most about is her children, and she will sacrifice the world to defend them. And then there’s Merecot.

Merecot and Garnah are the “villains” and yet, of course, they are so much more than that. And they are probably my two favourite characters. Merecot is ambitious and a touch sociopathic, but she is also charming and funny. Garnah is even more sociopathic and even more charming and funny. Merecot, once Daleina’s school friend, is now a powerful enemy looking to steal Daleina’s throne but… is there more to her than that?

I love the complexity of the characters and the relationships between them. The spirits allow this story to play out by creating additional drama, but the series is first and foremost about its characters and exploring their desires and motives. What is most important to them? What are they willing to give up to get what they want the most?

It’s difficult to review a third book in a series I’ve loved because readers of the series are probably already sold on it, so I tend to give more of an overview and try to sell the series as a whole to potential new readers. I’ll avoid talking about the story in this book and say instead: I highly recommend these books for fans of character-driven fantasy, those who want to explore a world where the characters live in giant trees and command spirits, and those who enjoy reading about tough, flawed women just trying to do their best and not screw up the world in the process.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

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