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Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true: she is left without a patron.
Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the throne.
With war brewing, Brienna must choose which side she will remain loyal to: passion or blood.
Series: The Queen's Rising (Book 1)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen (February 6, 2018)
Page Count: 464 pages
I actually had the chance to meet the author of this book while going to an event for Victoria Aveyard. I got an autograph for Rebecca Ross for a friend and then she recommended I read her book and I’m so glad I did! And I’m also happy because she’s a local author who’s published a book that isn’t riddled with content with Harper Collins. So inspiring.
The Plot: There's a lot of mystery in this book so it's tough to comment on too much without spoiling. XD I like that Brienna isn't the heir to the throne yet she still has an important enough of a role that she's right to be the main character. The plot is wrapped in politics, mystery, magic, and suspense. It's definitely a fun and unique vibe.
The Characters: I really love Brienna and relate to her a lot. We're both tall and we were both born out of wedlock, so I get a lot of her struggles. Also, it's just nice to have a tall protagonist. I feel like most protagonists are short in YA. All of the side characters are unique and fun as well. I love Jordain, Merei, and Luc in particular. I almost cried in a scene between Brienna, Jordain, and Luc, and I love the sisterly moments between Brienna and her passion sisters. It's so refreshing to have characters who are noble and brave while still being realistic and authentic. The villains are dastardly and are definitely formidable foes. I can't talk too much about them cause spoilers, but trust me here.
The Setting: I love the setting so much. It's a mix of France and Scotland and it's so cool with a mix of 1600s and a bit of Medieval flair. I love the differences in cultures and the woad and the society that's focused on passions. I love it all. I also really like how the arts are so revered in this society as are women in general. There's not the typical women are oppressed and can't do anything in society trope. Women are awesome and so there.
Epic Things: I love warpaint so much and I also like how the origin of handshakes is mentioned that you shake the hand of a person to check if they have any weapons up their sleeves. I also love the sword Widow's Bite which has a black widow in amber on its pommel. So. Sweet.
The Theme: A big part of it is plans not going the way you want them to but becoming better. Brienna trained most of her life to passion and to receive her cloak, but it doesn't happen and she has to accept a new destiny, but she realizes it's better than she expected. I also relate to this personally in my writing career.
Content Cautions: This book is refreshingly clean. There's no swearing or severe sexual content. There is some gore since battles and fights do take place, including blood spray, blood from knives and arrow wounds, an arrow protruding from an eye, rotting body parts, and face split in half by magic (not described in detail). On a side note, a character is stabbed by a knife and she mentions how she doesn't feel the wound. This is realistic because adrenaline kicks in to dull the pain. I actually know someone who was severely stabbed and mentioned this.
What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:
Turning Fantasy Tropes Around - Ross really turned a lot of common tropes around like having the protagonist be royalty, having women be oppressed in society, and art frowned upon. It was great to have the opposite for a change. It felt new instead of rehashed.
How this can be applied to writing: What fantasy tropes can you turn around in your story?
Conclusion: I really loved this book and I can't wait for the sequel to come out this year!
About the Author: Rebecca Ross grew up in Georgia, where she continues to reside with her husband, lively dog and endless piles of books. She received her bachelor's degree in English from UGA. In the past, she has worked at a Colorado dude ranch, as a school librarian, and as a live-time captionist for a college.