The Queen of Blood
By: Sarah Beth Durst
Release Date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Format: Print ARC
An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure
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 . . .
But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.
With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.
I typically try not to build up what I think a book will be like or elements that might be involved but when I read the back cover of The Queen of Blood I immediately envisioned a romance between this idealistic young student and the banished warrior. I went in wanting the ‘mentor that slowly falls in love with his student’ trope but that wasn’t what happened. I couldn’t help but be disappointed. I went into this shipping the wrong couple and I’ll admit it made me a bit sad. But this was, of course, no fault of the book! These were my expectations that I let go a bit wild. I wanted this book to be something it was not.
Once I got over my self enforced disappointment I was able to see this book for what it was and enjoy it very much. It is in the adult fantasy genre so there are more detailed descriptions (and that teeny tiny print). The characters are very developed and I really did learn to care for a great many of them. I wanted there to be a lot of romance and there wasn’t- though there was some- just not who I wanted. I’m not sure if it was because of my false idea of who should be together but I never really got behind any of the romantic relationships in this book. That was fine though because they were not a very large part of the story line. This book was about much more than romance- it had betrayal, friendship, the trust of a mentor, cost of power and sacrifice for duty.
I really appreciate Durst’s writing style- she creates vivid worlds and Renthia was so beautifully rendered. I loved the usage of magic and how spirits drove the forest growth, wind, fire, etc. The idea behind this was so creative and original. I loved that girls trained to be able to control these spirits and there was always the tension that they could lose control allowing the spirits to unleash death and havoc.
The main character, Daleina, was so easy to relate to and root for. She suffered a horrible event in her youth which shaped her entire future. This girl doesn’t let anything stop her and pushes herself so far. I love that she takes on responsibility and strives to fulfill a duty that she sees herself having. A lot of others would give up under the circumstances Daleina finds herself but she refuses to. She also has some amazing character growth throughout even this first novel in the series so I’m very excited to see what the other books go with her and the other characters.
The banished warrior type is a trope I just love. The brave, fierce warrior that has fallen out of grace is often the plot line for so many good stories and once again I loved that Durst used this to shape a character, Ven, that was a perfect foil for Daleina. Though there was not a romance between these two they did have wonderful chemistry (and I still ship them!).
The Queen of Blood was a beautifully done high fantasy that focused primarily on the main character’s journey to fulfill the duty she feels she had. I loved the character development and world building, though dense at times. I am eager to see where Durst will take the rest of the series.