Tuesday, March 10, 2020

A Book Review of the Queen's Resistance by Rebecca Ross

Brienna is a mistress of knowledge and is beginning to settle into her role as the daughter of the once disgraced lord, Davin MacQuinn. Though she’d just survived a revolution that will return a queen to the throne, she faces yet another challenge: acceptance by the MacQuinns.

But as Queen Isolde Kavanagh’s closest confidant, she’ll have to balance serving her father’s House as well as her country.

Then there’s Aodhan Morgan, formerly known as Cartier √Čvariste, who is adjusting to the stark contrast between his pre-rebellion life in Valenia and his current one as lord of a fallen House. As he attempts to restore the Morgane name, he let his mind wander—what if he doesn’t have to raise his House alone? What if Brienna could stand by his side?

But Brienna and Cartier must put their feelings aside, as there are more vital tasks at hand—the Lannons' trial, forging alliances, and ensuring that no one halts the queen’s coronation. Resistance is rumbling among the old regime’s supporters, who are desperate to find a weakness in the rebels’ forces.

And what makes one more vulnerable than love?

Series: The Queen's Rising (Book 2)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen (March 5, 2019)
Page Count: 481 pages

Ever since Rebecca Ross announced this sequel to Queen’s Rising I knew I wanted to read it but it’s taken me almost a year to finally get around to it. Some may say that this book was an unnecessary sequel, but honestly, this completed the duology in a more satisfying way than the original book did. It’s a wonderful sequel!

The Plot: In this book, the plot is split between Brienna and Cartier. Both are equally intriguing and held my interest. I haven’t read a book that takes place in dealing with the aftermath of a great rebellion. A country isn’t just magically fixed when an evil ruler is overthrown. There are many grievances and people who aren’t satisfied with the new change in leadership. There’s definitely plenty of work to be done to mend a broken country especially after a coup that failed so miserably.  

The Characters: This book is written in first person for both Brienna and Cartier. This is a definite hit or miss as books like The Fifth Wave failed miserably or King’s Cage that actually managed to succeed at it. This falls into the latter category. Ross did a great job at making sure Brienna’s and Cartier’s voices were distinct.

Brienna is such a lovely protagonist. I just love her. She’s brave, strong, and clever. I love how she advises the queen. Not many stories focus on the advisors to those in power. But man does Ross put poor Brie through the wringer. Poor baby!

Cartier has such a pleasant and tender spirit, but he also deals with intense grief and anger for what has been done to his loved ones. He has to deal with becoming a lord and helping his people recover from so much suffering.

The villain Declan is creepy as all get out. Even as a child he would do things like paint pictures of blood and violence. He’s scary and evil and you want him to pay for what he’s done. There’s also another character who’s a traitor that I can’t help but despise.

Other characters I really liked were Isolde, Jourdain, and Tomas. Isolde is a kind queen and her healing powers are so cool. Jourdain is such an amazing father and I just adore him. In one scene he lashes out because something terrible happens to Brienna and it's so heartbreaking because he loves her so much. Tomas is just a poor sweet innocent abused cinnamon roll.

The Setting: Ross depicts this world so beautifully with her description. I love the special tradition she created where a man has to find a ribbon in a tapestry to prove he’s a worthy suitor. I also like there are more types of magic than Isolde's though most couldn't be explored in just this one book. Sadness.

Epic Things: This isn’t epic per se but it was refreshing. At one point in the book, Brienna is followed by a big man and she does all she can to avoid him. Ladies, this isn’t cowardly. She may have had a dirk but she’s also a small woman and this is a big guy and he’s going to 100% overpower a woman. Men are stronger than women physically and that’s just a fact. 

I also like that though this world is very pro-women as in they're valued even over men that the men aren't emasculated. My one gripe with Horizon: Zero Dawn was that many of the men seemed inferior to the women like they weren't allowed to want to protect the women like that would make them seem like they think women are week. Good men want to protect women because they love us deeply. It's not an insult. It's a sign of devotion.

The Theme: One theme is resolve. At one point, Isolde just gets so overwhelmed by all of the rot in the land that was caused by the past tyrannical rule. She's upset that she was raised in comfort and love while her people were suffering, so much so she wishes she was dead. 
"You and I must continue moving forward. We must continue uprooting darkness and corruption and replacing it with goodness and light. It will take time. It will take our entire hearts and the breadths of our lives, Isolde. But we do not wish we were dead. We do not wish we were different individuals, despite what the saints or the gods have ordained for us."~Cartier
Content Cautions: Though there is no swearing or explicit sexual content there are a few things especially regarding violence to note. The most graphic described is a horrible death of a five-year-old having her bones broken with a mallet. Other things of note are mentioned child abuse, a woman’s head being placed on a spike is mentioned a few times, mention of attempted suicide, a few people are beheaded publicly, blood from a stabbing, choking, severe nosebleed, exposed teeth from a cheek wound, attempted suffocation, torture, mutilation, and mention of cutting out a tongue and severing a hand.

The only things to point out in the sexual department is characters kiss, rape is mentioned, and then a brothel is found where it’s implied that a man has been sexually abusing a number of girls for years. 

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) Power Moves - When Cartier arrives his manor he finds a stone with Declan’s name carved on it. Even though Declan is in prison this puts a big impact on Cartier psychologically and Declan knew that when he did that. It isn’t until the stone is dug up and thrown into a quagmire that Cartier feels that power release. Later on, a Cartier reciprocates when he visits Declan in his cell and carves his name his true name Aodhan in his cell. It was such a great scene.

How this can be applied to writing: A character doesn’t have to threaten the life of another character to unnerve them. Asserting dominance by visiting the MCs house and eating their food just because they can really scare the crap out of your MC and make a frightening villain. Power is making the villain feel in control and the MC not.

2.) Family Lineage for Plot Twist - In the Queen’s Resistance there’s a lot of lineages reveals and for spoilers sake I’m not going to say who they are but there are at least three notable ones.

How this can be applied to writing: This is an old but good plot twist to keep in mind. I mean the first example that comes to mind is Darth Vader and Luke. Though it's well worn there's plenty of ways to make this trope not cliche like discovering children born out of wedlock from a relationship years ago. These things happen in real life. There's no reason they shouldn't in books.

Conclusion: The ending made me smile and I just thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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. 

My review of The Queen's Resistance!

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