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Book Review: Sorcery of a Queen by Brian Naslund

Title: Sorcery of a Queen

Author: Brian Naslund

Publisher: Tor Books

Publication Date: Aug 11, 2020

Genres: Epic Fantasy

Shelves: Female-fronted

Blood of an Exile sat in my review pile for nearly a year before I finally decided to give it a read, and I only did so because Sorcery of a Queen had caught my eye. It ended up being one of my more pleasant surprises of the year, a book that mixed sword-and-sorcery with grimdark fantasy, dark humor with social awareness.

Having been so delighted by the first book, I’m that much more disappointed with Sorcery of a Queen. It was an okay read, with a few moments of fun and madness that hearken back to the joys of the first, but it suffers from significant pacing issues (a lot of talking and little action) and puts far too much attention on the least interesting characters (who I’d hoped would be a lot more engaging).

There are some positive aspects to the world-building here, with some fantastic elements of steampunk, magic-science, and genetic engineering. The repurposing of dragon bones and dragon oil is intriguing, and the integration of dragon magic into human weapons is fascinating. Taken in small doses, it’s a nice addition to the heroic fantasy genre, but here it dominates too much of the tale.

At best, Bershad and Ashlyn are relegated to shared leads here . . . and, at works, they’re almost secondary to Vera and Kira. That would be fine if Kira were even half as interesting as her sister, or if Vera managed to recapture any of her appeal from the first book, but neither is strong enough here to carry their part of the story. Even Felgor seemed stripped down here, nowhere near the entertaining sidekick he was the first time around. It doesn’t help that Osyrus Ward quickly becomes tiresome, wearing out his welcome within the first few chapters, robbing the story of the solid antagonist it needed.

If I’d read Sorcery of a Queen first, before the novelty of unkillable Bershad began to wear thin, would I have enjoyed this more? It’s hard to say, but the pacing and boredom of Kira’s chapters would still be an issue. It was a struggle to pick this back up and finish it. There is a third book coming next summer in Fury of a Demon, but I’ll have to wait and see where its narrative focus lies before deciding whether or not to continue.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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