Princess Esofi of Rhodia and Crown Prince Albion of Ieflaria have been betrothed since they were children but have never met. At age seventeen, Esofi’s journey to Ieflaria is not for the wedding she always expected but instead to offer condolences on the death of her would-be husband.
But Ieflaria is desperately in need of help from Rhodia for their dragon problem, so Esofi is offered a new betrothal to Prince Albion’s younger sister, the new Crown Princess Adale. But Adale has no plans of taking the throne, leaving Esofi with more to battle than fire-breathing beasts.
Word Count: 65000
Sex Content: N/A
REVIEWED BY REBECCA
RATING: FIVE STARS
I thoroughly enjoyed this very palatable fantasy story from Effie Calvin. Written in third person through two different perspectives, the story follows two women who have found themselves engaged to be married for the sake of political stability and magical protection against dragon invasions. What's not to love about that kind of plot? Esofi has always known she would marry the heir of Ieflaria and the thought has never really bothered her, but when her betrothed, Albion, dies unexpectedly, Esofi's vision of the future needs to shift as she becomes engaged to his younger and less responsible sister, Adale.
The world-building is quite rich, particularly the spiritual aspects of Calvin's imaginative world. It took me a little while to understand the different deities, but it wasn't a chore, and I had a decent grasp of the mythology by the end. I did wonder at Esofi's attitude towards science, in that I expected part of her character growth to include her becoming more open to alternative perspectives about healing, but that plot point didn't seem to go anywhere - but this is a series and you can't address every little idea in the first book.
The political, social, and religious situations are fascinating and there's plenty to explore throughout subsequent books. But at the same time, I felt quite satisfied with the self-contained story in Book 1. There was a good balance between descriptions of settings, character interactions, and action sequences. I usually take quite a while to finish books because of my children and my work commitments, but I finished this one quite fast because I kept putting off other things in life to read, having been pulled right in.
Personally, I would have liked to see a little more of the resolution between Esofi and Adale towards the end - as it seemed there would have been some "off page/screen" interactions after the climax and I felt slightly left out having not seen at least the discussion where they resolved (or didn't? Won't ruin it all for you) their conflicts. I'm guessing the unicorn played a part, but I'm not sure. This is a minor point of personal preference though, and everything is wrapped up very effectively.
Overall, The Queen of Ieflaria is an engaging, turbulent story set within a rich and imaginative fantasy world that I easily fell in love with. I'm keen to see what other books this author will write in future.
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