Monday, April 2, 2018

ARC #Review - The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton #Fantasy

Series: Unknown
Format: E-Galley, 576 pages
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Epic Fantasy 

The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.

The king’s three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Regan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted.

Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.

"The withering grandeur of an island that once thrived with magic. The erratic decision of a half mad king. Stars that predict the future; people that whisper with the trees. Greedy hands of enemy kingdoms, three sisters, yet only one will rise as queen."

Inspired by Shakespeare's King Lear, The Queens of Innis Lear is Tessa Gratton's debut epic adult fantasy. The Queens of Innis Lear brings to life a world that hums with ancient magic, and characters as ruthless as the tides. The author alternatives storylines between Gaela, Regan, and Elisa Lear, as well as Ban the Fox and Aefa who is Elia's lady in waiting. I would say that Ban is the wild card of this story since he really has a hand in almost everything that happens to the sisters, and the choices that are made throughout the story.

Elia. Star-blessed Priest. 

My sisters hide in the shadows like serpents, waiting to strike our ailing king. I must protect my father, even if it means marrying a stranger. We all have to make sacrifices. Love and freedom will be mine. 

Elia is the youngest daughter at 20. She is a priest, a prophet, and her life has been all about listening to the stars. Elia has no desire to marry. Ever. Especially when her olders sisters have contentious marriages. She is, up until a huge twist, her father's favorite who never once blamed him for her mother's death which put her in a difficult situation with her sisters. They consider her a traitor who never once stood with them but against them. But, she may be the only one who is able to save the Island of Innis Lear from years of ignorance.

Regan. Master Manipulator. 

To secure my place on the throne, I must produce an heir. Countless times I have fed the island’s forests my blood. Yet, my ambition is cursed. No matter what or whom I must destroy, I will wield the magic of Innis Lear. 

Regan is the middle daughter. She is married to Duke Connley, and has been studying wormwork, magic that has been banned by her father. She promised her older sister that she would bear the heirs to the crown. She is a hard knock character who you have to pity. She has had plenty of bad things happen to her. Regan is united with her older sisters in their hatred of their father. The sisters both believe that their father had something to do with their mothers shocking death. She, however, actually finds love with her husband and similar goals.

Gaela. Ruthless Commander. 

I am the rightful heir of Innis Lear. No more will I wait in the shadows and watch my mother’s murderer bleed my island dry. The King’s hold on the crown must end—willingly or at the edge of my sword.

Gaela is by far the strongest personality in the book. She's the eldest sister, the apparent heir, lady warrior, & The Black Princess. She chose her husband for the sake of the throne and not because she loved him. She is more comfortable in men's clothes and leading her army than being the meek and obedient wife to her husband Duke Astore. She desires two things: to become King, and to make sure her father receives justice for her mother's death. Gaela is ruthless, dangerous, goal orientated, and a whole lot more adjectives that I'll hold onto.

Innis Lear's King believes in the power of the stars and understands that his reign is at an end. The stars proclaimed that the next to be crowned will be the one who loves him the best. With everyone's eyes on what will happen next, Grafton throws in a shocking surprise. When it is her turn to answer her father's question, Elia doesn't give the answer her father is expecting, thus leading to her banishment, her titles being stripped, the kingdom being divided in half by Regan and Gaela, and her fleeing to the Kingdom of Aremoria where she is sought after by King Morimaros.

The Queen of Innis Lear is slightly on the slower pace when it comes to storytelling. It also leaves a curious ending. Will there be a sequel? Or, will the author walk away and pretend as though she didn't leave a major quagmire behind for the characters to struggle through? I wasn't exactly a fan of the Rega or Gaela. They were incredibly intense, dark, and exceedingly dislikable as the story progresses. I also have nothing good to say about Ban who returns to his home after being away for 6 years. Ban is a powerful reminder that nobody is as they seem and anything can happen and usually will whenever he is in the picture. 

There's plenty to say about the relationships that develop in this story. Between Ban and Mars (King of Aremoria); Ban and Elia, as well as the sisters love, hate relationship with each other. Talk about being toxic. One could also add Ban's relationship with his father, his brother, as well as Regan who he shows a bit of respect and admiration for. Gratton's world building is in a class all its own. I would say that the world she created was as mesmerizing as the lyrical prose and the characters she created. 

I was not familiar with King Lear before I requested this title via NetGalley. Yes, I did look up King Lear via the internet. While Gratton keeps to the essence of Shakespeare’s original work, she definitely adds her own flare and fantasy elements and literary style.   

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