The Queen of Ieflaria

The Queen of Ieflaria
Effie Calvin, 2018

Premise: While Princess Esofi is en route to her marriage, the prince she was to marry dies suddenly. To save an alliance and bring aid to a beleaguered kingdom, Esofi must decide whether she will instead marry the prince's irresponsible sister.

I found this fantasy/romance novel promising; in fact, I bought it on the strength of the sample. Unfortunately, for me it fell sadly short by the end.

The intriguing aspects include the magic and the larger world, including the complicated religion of this group of small kingdoms. Even more interesting were the two main characters, who each subvert their initial stereotype. Esofi, who is frothy and girlish, is also a stone-cold magical badass and has been raised with all the training befitting a future queen. Crown Princess Adale is an action girl on the surface: she wears pants and goes out hunting and drinking. Once she starts trying to impress Esofi, Adale eventually finds that her actual strength is in mental work and research.

Their growing romance is sweet enough, but the overall plot was rushed and disjointed. Plus there were a number of interesting or alarming plot threads that were teased and then completely dropped.

Adale might have to talk Esofi out of destroying a research lab in an excess of religious zeal? Oh no big deal, we'll have one conversation about it, get distracted by other things, and never mention it again. One of them will have to master some pretty significant magic in order for them to have a child? This seems like it's going to be a significant part of their courtship, as it ought to be important for the royal family's continuity, but after the first few mentions, it's handwaved away as something to deal with later, after they're married.

There's a significant part of the plot about the fact that Adale's cousins would be terrible rulers, although they come courting Esofi in the hopes of gaining power, but she barely reacts or even seems to realize when their misdeeds are revealed. Why were they even there? Plus one of the major stressful, potentially political issues that the characters face is solved by some literal deus ex machina. Again, why was it built up so much only to be summarily solved nearly off-screen?

After all that, the book ends with fighting some dragons, and all the loose threads are just left hanging. These characters aren't even in the next book set in this world! So much promise in the premise, but I'm not sold enough to read more.

2 Stars - An Okay Book


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