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The Queen of Blood: Book One of The Queens of Renthia
     

The Queen of Blood: Book One of The Queens of Renthia

4.5 4
by Sarah Beth Durst
 

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Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow…

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to

Overview

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow…

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still only human, and no matter how strong or good they are, the threat of danger always looms.

Because the queen’s position is so precarious, young women are specially chosen to train as her heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Meanwhile, the disgraced champion Ven has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. When Daleina and Ven join forces, they embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land…before it’s bathed in blood.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 07/25/2016
Mythopoeic Award–winner Durst (Chasing Power) launches her Queens of Renthia series with a stellar and imaginative tale. In the fantasy world of Renthia, spirits—tangible magical beings associated with the four elements—would destroy all humans if it weren’t for the queen, a powerful chosen ruler who can control them. When a group of spirits destroys an outlying village, young Daleina chases them off and discovers that she has the power to potentially be a queen one day. After training for years at the academy, she comes under the tutelage of Ven, a disgraced champion (and former lover) of the current queen, Fara, and they work to make Daleina stronger as it becomes more apparent that Fara might be losing control of the spirits. Durst ably dispenses with tropes of the genre, zooming through the standard “young magician at the academy” plot to focus on Daleina’s growth as both a person and a potential queen. In addition to a solid cast of characters and great political intrigue, Durst delivers some fascinating worldbuilding, and the spirits are malevolent, cunning, wild, and mysterious antagonists. Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger. (Sept.)
Library Journal
★ 07/01/2016
The universe is made of living things, and spirits reside in the trees, the wind, and the water. However, the spirits are not fond of the humans who encroach on their lands and would destroy them all but for the queen, the sole person who can control the undead. Still, the queen is human, with weaknesses like everyone else. To ensure the spirits stay bound, young women who show some magical powers are chosen to attend the academy and become the queen's heirs. Daleina, who saved her family when the rest of her village was struck down by spirits, knows that her magic isn't substantial and that the throne is out of her reach. As spirit attacks become more frequent, Daleina joins with the disgraced champion Ven to figure out why the invasions are increasing. If they are unable to stand strong against the oncoming forces, their land will fall under a siege of darkness, death, and blood. The captivating characters will draw readers into a world of magic and intrigue and keep them wanting more. VERDICT Durst, an award-winning YA author (Vessel) and three-time Andre Norton Award finalist, presents a thrilling beginning to a sweeping series about searching for sovereignty and truth in order to save one's land.—KC
Kirkus Reviews
2016-08-17
In the first of a new fantasy series by Durst (The Girl Who Could Not Dream, 2015, etc.), a woman with apparently weak magical abilities but exceptional smarts and determination competes to rule her land.Aratay is a land where all the villages and even the cities are improbably built among the tree branches. This closeness to nature has its extreme downside, as the forest is swarming with wood, earth, water, air, and ice spirits whose deepest instinct is to exterminate humans. Paradoxically, the spirits are also compelled to forfeit some of their power to the queen they select, allowing that single human to control them all and forestall their more destructive tendencies. But is the current queen, Fara, losing that control? In spite of the queen, spirits slaughtered the village of Greytree—everyone but the family of Daleina, who revealed an affinity toward the spirits and managed to hold them off. Years later, Daleina begins training to become one of the queen’s potential heirs but cannot match the magical strength of her fellow candidates. Nevertheless, her drive and intelligence attract the disgraced Champion Ven, Queen Fara’s former lover, who hones the young woman’s skills and in the process discovers Fara’s terrible secret. There are plenty of fantasy bildungsromans that chronicle how a plucky young woman develops her unconventional magic in time to save everyone, and those even mildly familiar with the trope will foresee several aspects of the plot. However, it’s rare for a tale like this to have such an incredibly high body count or to force the protagonist to make the dark choices Daleina must. The overriding message—that great strength administered without heed for the consequences is inferior to the ability to intelligently apply a smaller amount of power—has also been shared before, but this is a particularly effective (if bloody) dissemination. Enough substance to break from the pack; here’s hoping that future volumes pull even farther ahead.
Shelf Awareness — Starred Review
“Durst dives into adult fantasy with thrilling results.”
Shelf Awareness -- Starred Review
“Durst dives into adult fantasy with thrilling results.”
Terry Brooks
“Wow, girl! What a great story! A truly wonderful fantasy novel which doubles as an allegory for our own earthly struggle between Man and Nature. Filled with fresh ideas and excitement, told with verve and heart. This book deserves a wide readership, and I think it will find one.”
Tamora Pierce
“Thrilling--heartrending--enchanting--absolutely un-put-down-able!”
Jeff Wheeler
The Queen of Blood is full of rich tension from the opening scene to the nail-biting finale.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062413345
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/20/2016
Series:
Queens of Renthia , #1
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
33,516
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 2.20(d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Beth Durst is the author of ten fantasy novels for adults, teens, and children, including The Lost, Vessel, and The Girl Who Could Not Dream. She won the 2013 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband and children.

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The Queen of Blood: Book One of The Queens of Renthia 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
The land of Renthia has always had spirits. Tree spirits help plants grow and flowers bloom. Ice spirits change the seasons. Water, Fire, Air and Earth spirits control the elements. As much as the spirits create, they also yearn to destroy and rid the land of humans whose very existence interferes with nature. Only women are born with an affinity to control the spirits and even then it is often a weak power commonly found in hedgewitches throughout the villages. Few are strong enough to enter the academies and train to become queen. Queens in Renthia are incredibly powerful, binding the spirits to their will so that the spirits will not harm humans. Queens rarely have the chance to grow old. With so many threats, and such great need, young women are trained to become candidates and vie for prestigious positions as heirs so that no part of Renthia is ever left without a strong queen. Daleina rarely lets herself think so far ahead. Instead she focuses on learning enough to use her gift to protect her family and the rest of Aratay. Ven, a disgraced champion, fights the spirits on the outskirts of Aratay as their attacks become bolder and more frequent. Ven and Daleina are unlikely heroes and strange allies. It will take both of their unique talents to discover the insidious root of the increasing attacks and save Aratay before the spirits' thirst for blood grows even stronger in The Queen of Blood (2016) by Sarah Beth Durst. The Queen of Blood is the start of Durst's adult fantasy trilogy, The Queens of Renthia. Set in the kingdom of Aratay, this story begins when Daleina is a child and follows her through adulthood (she is nineteen by the end) as she learns more about how to control the spirits and chases her dream of protecting Aratay. Written in close third person point of view, The Queen of Blood mostly focuses on Daleina's story although other chapters follow Ven and other relevant characters. While there is a subtle romance element, this story primarily focuses on the cost (and threat) of power as well as its incredibly capable heroine. Durst presents an intricate and well-realized world filled with brutal spirits and villages that sprout from trees in a vast forest. Careful attention to detail and complex characters make this a multi-dimensional and thoughtful high fantasy novel. Durst also avoids the trap of creating an overwhelming white fantasy world with a cast that is as varied and surprising as one would expect from an imagined world. While the backdrop and plot of The Queen of Blood are immediately engrossing, Daleina remains the true heart of this novel. Unlike many heroines, Daleina has no illusions about her strength and power. She knows that her road to train to become an heir (or even queen) will not be easy. Her power is hard-won and she is not always the best or even the strongest. But, like many young women, Daleina is sincere, kind, and inventive--traits that are not always seen together in one character. The Queen of Blood is a complex and nuanced high fantasy novel filled with unexpected twists, clever characters, and a rich world. This scintillating series starter is a must-read for fantasy readers who will surely be waiting eagerly for the next installment. Highly recommended. Possible Pairings: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman, A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn, Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay, Winterspell by Claire Legrand, A Confusion of Princes by
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am always skeptical when a book is heavily hyped by the publisher before release. Too many times I’ve gotten excited because of the pre-release promo and been disappointed. And the high price tag of newly released e-books makes the disappointment worse. Happily, The Queen of Blood lives up to the hype. We enter a completely new and novel world where humans live in an uneasy truce with the spirits around them. The spirits are only kept in check by their pact with the Queen of this land. But the Queen’s grip seems to be slipping. Daleina lives in one of the outer forest villages and when the Queen’s control over the spirit seems to slip the entire village is slaughtered. Only Daleina’s family survives when her talent commanding the spirits manifests long enough for Champion Ven to repel the attacking spirits. Daleina chooses the path of heir training while Champion Ven confronts the queen and is discredited and vanquished by her. The plot moves along briskly and carried me into this rich, multi-layered world. It was a book I didn’t want to put down and it read smoothly. I enjoyed Daleina’s strength and determination and Ven’s vulnerabilities. My only quibble is that the secondary characters, especially Daleina’s friends, are skimmed over and two-dimensional. I understand that with so much plot to fly through, it would have made a very long book to dwell on those characters. But it made the ending a little less impactful for me. The hype on this one was accurate – The Queen of Blood is Unabashedly Fantastic fiction. This is one of those worlds I will reach for to revisit and reread. This book stands alone, though I’ve heard there is at least another book in this series. Looking forward immersing myself in this world again.
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst Book One of the Queens of Renthia series Publisher: Harper Voyager Publication Date: September 20, 2016 Rating: 3 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . . But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms. With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood. What I Liked: Good... but not great. I'm not quite sure how to articulate how I feel about this book. I didn't hate it - no, I enjoyed it, to a point. In the end, the book was predictable and a little cliche, as far as adult fantasy fiction novels go. But, it was okay, enjoyable, not terrible. This story follows several protagonists, but mainly Daleina. The story starts with her as a ten-year-old, with her four-year-old sister, and parents. One day, as the family is going about their business like any normal day, their tree village is decimated by spirits. Spirits are always everywhere, but the queen controls them, so they don't usually attack humans. Why did they attack? Daleina's family is taken to another village, but Daleina is taken to train at Northeast Academy to hone her power (she discovers, when her family is attacked, that she has some power over the spirits). Nine years pass during this story, from beginning to end. After years at the Academy, Daleina is chosen the disgraced champion to be a candidate to be an heir, one of fifty women in the running to be queen, when Queen Fara dies. But Queen Fara has plans of her own, and they don't always seem to line up with the intentions of a good queen. Daleina must learn her power to take on even greater power than she'd ever encountered. This book is written in third-person, limited. Most of the story is told from Daleina's POV, but we also have Ven's (the disgraced champion), and sometimes Queen Fara's, and Headmistress Hanna's. At first I wasn't a huge fan of the switches in POV, but I definitely began to appreciate the various POVs as the story grew more complex. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)