Monday, June 22, 2020

Review: A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff

A Queen in Hiding (The Nine Realms, Book #1)
by Sarah Kozloff
Release Date: January 21st 2020
2020 Tor Books
Kindle Edition; 477 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250168542
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Orphaned, exiled and hunted, CĂ©rulia, 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 favor 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.

My Thoughts
A Queen in Hiding was a solid start to The Nine Realms fantasy series.  Already knowing there were going to be four books in this series, I went into this book with the mindset that the first book would be setting up the story, the characters, the political systems, and the possible magic systems being used.  I don't actually mind a long, slow buildup where I get to know the characters and the world building; sometimes I think epic fantasies require a different mindset going into them than stand alone books do.  One of the big marketing pluses to this series is the four books in this series are being published just months apart, so you won't have to wait years for the next instalment. This way, you don't forget important plot points and have to re-read previous books just to catch up.  

The description of this book is a bit misleading as the bulk of it deals with Cerulia's mother, Queen Cressa, who makes a difficult decision to hide Cerulia and fight for her throne. Cressa is seen as a weak ruler, and because she made some poor decisions, gives up her throne and daughter, but needs to fight to get it back.  How she chooses to do that is quite interesting and I enjoyed those chapters. It was really nice to see her grow, both as a woman and a queen, and I liked that she wasn't so perfect and so powerful.  What I thought was going to be about Cerulia really wasn't, although some of the story dealt with her adjustment to life away from court.  The description is deceptive as it describes the whole series, and not just this book.  

Personally, I liked learning about Cressa and the political situation at court.  It was good to get an understanding of the political players that Cerulia would eventually have to deal with when she returns one day, and gives the reader an idea of how difficult her job will be. And yes, I did have a problem with Cressa at first because I couldn't understand how someone who was raised from birth to rule a country could not manage to deal with her Council and let them run all over her.  I wasn't happy with the decision she made, but there it is.

The story line weaves back and forth between several POVs, and although I am still not quite sure how all them will play a role in Cerulia's life, I am sure it will all come together at some point.  It was definitely interesting to get a feel for some of the other kingdoms and to learn a bit of the political situations surrounding Cerulia through the eyes of other characters.  At first, I wasn't overly fond of Cerulia, but she did start to grow on me as she grew older and began to recognize the value of those around her and the hard work they put into their daily lives.  For reasons I can't explain here, Cerulia was really alone in her grief at being separated from her life and her parents, so it would have been really difficult for her to adjust.  I am a huge fan of Cerulia's foster dad however, and hope to see much more of him in future books.  And I am really looking forward to seeing Cerulia play a more active role now that she is older and starts to fight to take back her throne.  With the political situation changing around her, there should be some interesting times ahead.

One area I did have an issue with is the use of the magic system. I did find the magic wasn't really explained very well, and that it was used more as a convenience or plot point. In fact, I think a lot of things that weren't explained very well were one of the author's way of just using convenience to continue the story, and it sometimes left a bad feeling behind it.  Convenient plot points are never a way to continue a story. 

A Queen in Hiding was interesting and I did enjoy it quite a bit.  I particularly enjoyed the sections about Cressa and her fight to keep her throne, and then her fight to take it back.  We see a woman grow into her own and I liked watching her character develop into someone pretty interesting.  I do think the book could have used a bit more editing; it's not the length that bothered me, but the rapid changes in POV where nothing really happens, or are used just to show time marching forward.  I think some of it could have been done a bit differently as it seemed a bit...sloppy.  However, I totally enjoyed reading this book and will definitely be reading the entire series to find out what happens. 


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