The Reluctant Queen


Sarah Beth Durst


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

May 14, 2019

lmost as soon as I had finished The Queen of Blood, I picked up the second book of the Queens of Renthia trilogy. This novel continues the story of Daleina, don't read this book with first reading The Queen of Blood. There are comments in this review that give away some the essential plot elements of The Queen of Blood, so don't read this review of Book 2 in the series until you've finished reading Book 1.

Daleina is the Queen of Renthia now. After the bloody conclusion to the first book, most of talented magic-using women of Renthia now lie die, so young and inexperienced Daleina must forge ahead as queen of the country, despite the fact she is unprepared for the role of governing. Daleina has a dark secret: she is dying. A slow acting disease will destroy her - it looks like her reign will be measured in months, not years. Daleina must find an heir, because without a queen, the country is exposed to attack from the malevolent spirits. But the country has already been swept for talent, talent that perished in the ritual at the end of book 1.

Loyal, duty-bound Ven is the Queen's champion. He know how imperative it is that Daleina find a worthy successor. In a remote corner of the kingdom, lives a middle aged woman named Naelin. She has two young children, and a proud husband named Renet, who likes to boast about the ability of his wife to create charms. When Ven wanders into Naelin's village, he hears Renet's claims and decides to look at Naelin more closely. Clearly, Naeline is too old to enter what remains of the academy, but these are not normal times. Renthia is devoid of magic talent, and desperate times call for desperate measures - could a woman as old as Naelin possibly help with the problem of succession? Ven is willing to try anything.

Naturally, Naelin and Renet, and their two children, Erian and Llor, soon find themselves on the way to the capital, Mittriel. Hanna, the head-mistress of the magic academy, survived the spirit massacre at the end of book 1, so she can train Naelin on how to control the spirits, and how to be Queen when Daleina falls. But Naelin is much older than the usual student, she has a life time of experience, and she is set in her ways. It is much harder for older, experienced people to adapt to new ways of thinking, to relearn what they think they already know. Naelin struggles and is frustrated. It is unusual for an author, especially when writing for the Young Adult audience (I believe the Queens of Renthia is targeted toward teens). But Naelin is well portrayed, and I think readers of all ages will like this story.

The Reluctant Queen has intrigued and political manuevering. It has time pressure, as the disease continues to sap Daleina's strength. Durst's characters are as strong as ever, and her fantasy world is worth visiting. This is book is recommended, the series is going strong.