The Queen’s Rising was one of the books that got me back into reading. Although the idea was not unique and the book has quite a few problems, I was drawn to the story soon enough for some reason I can’t really place. There’s just something about this book that drew me in.
Brienna is the illegitimate daughter of a Valenian woman and a Maevan father. She had been raised by her grandfather, and he took her to Magnalia House to train in one of the five passions. Eventually, she landed on the passion of knowledge under the tutelage of the master Cartier.
At the end of their seven years of study, all of the girls besides Brienna win a patron.. Cartier stays behind for a short time, and although the attraction between the two of them is obvious, they stick to the rules and don’t indulge their desires. However, Brienna is approached by a man, Jourdain, who takes her under his tutelage. Iy is just the beginning of a revolution.
Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true: she is left without a patron.
Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the throne.
With war brewing, Brienna must choose which side she will remain loyal to: passion or blood.
There are a lot of things that this book could have done better admittedly, but the parts that were done well really helped me out of my slump. So before getting into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about what this book did right.
For one, the world-building was amazing. There were parts that left me wanting more and more, but I suppose that’s what the sequel is for. Ross’ writing is amazing in describing what happened in the story. She leaves room for imagination but also clarifies enough about the houses and general gist that it doesn’t affect the story.
Brienna is like a double-edged sword, however. On one hand, she is relatable in that she struggles in the beginning. She doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere, especially since she knows she got into Magnolia on reasons other than her skill. As a student myself, I understand the imposter syndrome Brienna faces. On the other hand, Brienna in the latter half of the books just feels too perfect for me. She doesn’t seem as relatable at all towards the end, and it just breaks any immersion I had with her.
That brings me to the next problem. There was literally none in this story. Or rather, no complex ones. Every problem introduced has a resolution not long after. As a result, the story severely suffers from a lack of depth. This ease of story continues to the end where it seems that the major conflict the story has been building up towards ends without so much as a bump in the road.
The whole identity of Brienna’s father is also not really done well. This is an instance where I believed the writing could have been better alongside the “planning” the lords did. Because if I’m going to be honest here, the planning here isn’t very intricate at all.
Then there’s the problem with the pacing. The first half of the book focuses all about the passions and Magnolia. However, for the importance of what Magnolia and passions actually play (hint: not much), I feel like the book focuses way too much on it. It wasn’t until mid-way into the book that the actual conflict was introduced.
The final point I want to bring up is the romance. I really didn’t feel like it was necessary here. If Ross took out the whole romance concept, there wouldn’t be much difference to the plot. It was just too obvious from the get-go that those two were going to end up together. Also, this is more of a personal problem, but the idea of a teacher-student relationship is just not very comfortable to me.
That being said, even thought there were a lot of things that could have been done better, there’s a charm to the writing that drew me in. I would recommend this to people in a slump or people looking for a classical uprising story.