The Queen's Rising, by Rebecca Ross: Review
"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."
It's been a few months since I last read this one (alas, it got away from me), but seeing as I've now read it twice, I'll endeavor to give the most accurate review I can...
Which shouldn't be hard, because I really enjoyed this book. Rebecca Ross' writing is descriptive and elegant, with classical vibes that make the worldbuilding feel truly authentic. The Celtic undertones are fantastic; it's a spacious world with enough history to make it feel rich and ancient . . . while making me want to go to Scotland and paint my face blue while standing on a mountaintop. Just as an aside.
I have so much appreciation for Brienna as a protagonist, not only because of her relatable struggle to find her calling, but because of her genuine loyalty, kindness, and bravery. Seeing her progression from an uncertain student to a warrior was exciting (if a little sudden, admittedly), and makes her a good fit for a wide range of readers.
Content Notes: violence is the only real issue I can recall. It comes in short, infrequent bursts but can be pretty intense, borderline graphic at times. Romance is totally clean and lacking no passion or beauty—a testament to Ross' skill!
A few last points of admiration: for one, the openness and trust Brienna shares with her friends is beautiful. For another, the sense of family—in this case, adopted—makes for some truly moving moments. And finally, though this book is charged with girl-power, I really appreciated the fact that the long-awaited queen is (*spoiler alert*) not Brienna herself. It's a trope that can be done well (I'm sure Rebecca Ross could have done a great job of it) but I thought the direction she chose to take was excellent.
The Queen's Rising is, in short—a beautiful, clean, exciting, vivid, emotional and highly recommended fantasy read!