I loved An Accident of Stars – read my review here – to the extent that it was one of my favourite reads of last year, so was thrilled when I spotted this offering on Netgalley.
Saffron Coulter has returned from the fantasy kingdom of Kena. Threatened with a stay in psychiatric care, Saffron has to make a choice: to forget about Kena and fit back into the life she’s outgrown, or pit herself against everything she’s ever known and everyone she loves. Meanwhile in Kena, Gwen is increasingly troubled by the absence of Leoden, cruel ruler of the kingdom, and his plans for the captive worldwalkers, while Yena, still in Veksh, must confront the deposed Kadeja. What is their endgame? Who can they trust? And what will happen when Leoden returns?
It was a joy to catch up on Saffron and what happens to her after her unexpected return home. For me, she was always the standout character in this enthralling portal fantasy and I really appreciate the opportunity to rebond with her. But my firm advice is to read the first book before picking up this one. Politics in Kena is a complicated, nuanced business and as I plunged once more into this intricate world, it took me a while to pick up the threads and I’m not sure the pacing is quite as sharp as it might be. Granted everyone is thrown into turmoil after the shocking events at the end of An Accident of Stars but it seemed to take a while for the momentum of the story to get going.
However, that isn’t a dealbreaker – the world and the interplay of characters in this sophisticated, clever story makes is a standout read, anyhow. There are some pleasing plot twists I didn’t see coming which worked really well. It is also a joy to read a book where women are fully represented throughout the society – with not a cliché among them. Having grown up in the ‘golden age’ of fantasy and science fiction when women were either in the story to be seduced, saved or as a wrinkled fount of wisdom it still gives me a buzz to see a female cast of characters with agency representing a range of ideas and views from the nicest to the nastiest.
The climax and finale worked brilliantly with all the main characters taken care of – a feat in an epic fantasy where there are a fair spread of folks whose story arcs have cris-crossed through this duology. If you enjoy well written, engrossing epic fantasy, but feel that Life is too short to take on a doorstopper-sized epistle, then do consider this classy, engrossing duology – Meadows is a class act.
While I obtained the arc of A Tyranny of Queens from the publisher via NetGalley, this has in no way influenced my unbiased review.
You really liked this one, didn’t you? What is a portal fantasy?
I loved it, Hayley! Meadows manages to build her worlds without pages of description and brings both humanity, warmth and grittiness to her writing. A portal fantasy is one where you get to the fantastic worlds via a portal or gateway – like the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Aaaahh, of course. TY!
Ah, this book was archived before I could raise a request. You are tempting me. Is the first book necessary?
I do think it would help – the first book is awesome. It was one of my favourite reads of 2016…
Going to get them :). Thanks.
Delighted to hear it! I’m really looking forward to reading your reaction to this duology.
This sounds great – I will add the series to my wishlist.
It’s a great duology, Lynn. I’d love to get your take on this one.
What a great cover! And the concept of the portal type of fantasy with intricate politics does sound great! It’s nice when a book can surprise you with the plot twists and the ending sounds very well done too! Great review!
Thank you, Lola:). It really is a great series.