Debut author Sarah Kozloff offers a breathtaking and cinematic epic fantasy of a ruler coming of age in A Queen in Hiding, and all four books will be published within a month of each other, so you can binge your favorite new fantasy series.
Orphaned, exiled and hunted, Cérulia, 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. (From the book blurb)
Epic fantasy books require a special mindset, focus and time to get into. With this one, the writing was so engaging that I was hooked straightaway.
As you would expect with book number one in a series the worldbuilding in Queen in Hiding is very thorough. Unexpectedly it appeared almost effortless. You are in the middle of events at the Nargiz castle, home of Weirandale queens, and yet, I was not confused or baffled for a single moment. I trusted the author to provide the necessary background information at the right moment. Sarah Kozloff lets you experience this complex world as if it is your own and when an explanation comes it’s just a piece of a puzzle that fits in the overall picture. E.g. hair colour shows old distinctions between various lands, and we get our first glimpse of this particularity through observing the members of the Queen Council. One of them has amber hair. Whenever a brown hair shows up, she asks gets her maid pluck it out. So we know this is something the court lady is ashamed of. Later through a child song sung by Princella Cerulia to her mother we learn that brown hair is characteristic of common folks, that all tiny kingdoms(lands) in this fantasy world used to have their own distinct shade of skin and hair, that there was a lot of intermarriage, trade and travelling. We see that old prejudices may run deep in this society, but judging by what the Queen says to her daughter, she is a person who would like to promote unity and peace and so on.
The characterization is absolutely fantastic, and let me tell you, there is a large cast. The author pays attention to give every character- main or secondary their own distinct voice, appearance and personality. There is also depth that comes with the additional background and showing the characters’ motivations.
We meet Princella Cerulia at the age of eight when the elders are trying to define her special talent (all previous queens possessed one). It is blatantly obvious to us that it is communicating with animals and that like it was the case with her mother, Cerulia’s talent will develop in future and will manifest itself at the times of need. Then we are plunged into the world of court intrigue. Queen Cressa is surrounded by treacherous nobles, one of whom Councellor Matwyck stages a coup to kill the queen in order to rule the country as a regent. Betrayed by her Council, Queen Cressa fears for her own life and life of Cerulia and is forced into an exile. Cerulia is disguised and given a new identity as a commoner. Gradually she will master her own magic abilities and grow into a strong and intelligent contender, ready to reclaim the throne for her family.
There is an original magic system based on elements, but the book is so well-researched and well-written that the magic aspect feels secondary to the realistic descriptions of court politics and everyday life.
I am very glad that the books are being released over four months (January 21, February 18, March 17, April 21), as I am really looking forward to reading the second instalment of this fast-paced fascinating epic series.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Tor for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
- Have you read A Queen in Hiding or is it on your tbr?
- Do you like fantasy books? If yes, what’s your favourite series?