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The Reluctant Queen: Book Two of The Queens…
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The Reluctant Queen: Book Two of The Queens of Renthia

by Sarah Beth Durst

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While you can theoretically read The Reluctant Queen as a stand alone, I suggest reading Queen of Blood first.

Six months ago, Daleina became queen after all the other viable heirs were killed by the spirits. Now, she’s dying. A diagnosis of a fatal disease gives her three months to find an heir — but none of the girls in the academies are ready. Ven ventures outside of the academies to search for a potential heir in the wilderness and small villages, and he finds Naelin, a middle-aged mother who has no desire to use her great power. While she may be reluctant, she’s the only hope for an heir strong enough to protect the country from the bloodthirsty nature spirits.

First off, I want to talk about how much I like Naelin’s character. She’s outside the mold of the typical fantasy heroine, and it’s wonderfully refreshing. I generally want more diversity in fantasy female leads, including things like age and parental status. Surely books can acknowledge that women still have stories worth telling once they hit thirty? In Naelin’s case, her being middle-aged and a mother worked so well for her chosen one plot line. It gave her so much to lose and so much to fight for. I think she’ll be one of the more memorable characters of the series because of it. Oh, and like Daliena in The Queen of Blood, Naelin had a romance subplot but it was pretty minimal.

Also like it’s predecessor, The Reluctant Queen includes multiple significant female characters. Obviously, both Daliena and Naelin are important, but the book also has a female poison master and Daliena’s younger sister as playing influential roles in the plot. Plus, Merecot returns! And she’s ambitious as ever. I want to know more about what she’s up to, but I think that’ll have to wait until book three.

The Reluctant Queen is a fast read. The story’s pretty light and the prose isn’t dense, part of what makes it a good YA crossover. The pacing’s such that I finished it in little over a day. It’s got some plot twists I didn’t see coming and others that I picked up the clues for. Overall, it was another fun read from Sarah Beth Durst. I can’t wait for the third book!

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.

I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review. ( )
  pwaites | Jul 4, 2017 |
This is the second book in the Queens of Renthia series. I absolutely loved this book and have loved all the books in this series so far. This is a fantasy series; while it is appropriate for YA it features a lot of adult characters.

I love the world and the characters in here. The writing is easy to read and flows well. I have a really hard time putting this book down and ended up reading it very quickly.

I enjoyed seeing Daleina on the throne and struggling through her reign. However, even better was the new character of Naelin. Naelin is an older woman with two kids and a rather childish husband. I don’t read a lot of fantasy featuring women in their 30’s so it was a fun change. I loved watching Naelin try to balance her responsibilities with her children. I also love how she stood up for herself and realized that she didn’t have to stay in her loveless marriage.

There is some nifty magic in here and I adore this world where the nature spirits are out to rid the world of humanity. The fact that humanity is constantly in a struggle with basic spirits of earth, fire, etc adds a lot of urgency to the story. I also enjoy how each Queen and heir deals with controlling these spirits in a slightly different way.

Overall I absolutely loved this book; I love the characters and the world and how beautifully it’s all written. I am finding that Sarah Beth Durst is becoming one of my “go to” authors when I want a solid and well done story. I would definitely recommend this series to fantasy fans. ( )
  krau0098 | Jun 23, 2017 |
The book blurb gives a very good picture of the plot. This was an engaging epic fantasy novel. I love the world building. A world where spirits inhabit nature and want to kill all humans is intriguing.

This story begins with Daleina as queen and still grieving the loss of all her friends at the Coronation massacre which led to her being the only survivor and the new queen. She is trying to get used to that despite her fears that her powers are are not strong enough to keep control over the vengeful spirits when she is diagnosed with a fatal disease. If she dies before finding an heir, the spirits will run wild and kill everyone.

While Daleina's friend Hamon searches for a cure, Ven and the other Champions need to scour the land for candidates who might be able to be the heir. This is complicated by the fact the so many died in the massacre. Ven searches in remote areas and finds Naelin. Naelin has great power but she is used to hiding it. She doesn't want to be a queen. She is a mother of two and happy with her life. Protecting her children is her main goal.

Naelin is a wonderful character. She's a great mother. She's fiercely protective of her children. It takes a lot of convincing before Ven gets her to come to the capitol for testing.

The plot gets even more twisty when it is learned that Dalein was poisoned and is not naturally ill. Now the rush is on to find an antidote to an unknown poison. Complicating things even more is that a fellow student of Daleins is now the queen of a neighboring country and seems to be planning to invade Dalein's.

This was an excellent story. I loved the action which was non-stop. I loved the characters especially Hamon's unique mother and Naelin's children. I loved Naelin's budding romance with Ven. ( )
  kmartin802 | Jun 20, 2017 |
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For my husband, Adam, with love always and forever
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Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow... And those spirits want to kill you.
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Filled with political intrigue, violent magic, and malevolent spirits, the mesmerizing second book in Sarah Beth Durst's Queens of Renthia epic fantasy trilogy. Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow ... And those spirits want to kill you. It's the first lesson that every Renthian learns. Not long ago, Daleina used her strength and skill to survive those spirits and assume the royal throne. Since then, the new queen has kept the peace and protected the humans of her land. But now for all her power, she is hiding a terrible secret: she is dying. And if she leaves the world before a new heir is ready, the spirits that inhabit her beloved realm will run wild, destroying her cities and slaughtering her people. Naelin is one such person, and she couldn't be further removed from the Queen--and she wouldn't have it any other way. Her world is her two children, her husband, and the remote village tucked deep in the forest that is her home, and that's all she needs. But when Ven, the Queens champion, passes through the village, Naelin's ambitious husband proudly tells him of his wife's ability to control spirits--magic that Naelin fervently denies -- Provided by publisher.… (more)

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