(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Nelay never wanted to be queen.
Poised to become the most powerful priestess in Idara, Nelay doesn’t have time to become a pretty bauble for the king. She’s too busy saving her people from the invading army sweeping across her kingdom.
But in defeat after defeat, Nelay begins to realize a bigger power is at play than that wielded by mere mortals. Only she can stand between the cinders of her once-great nation and the vengeance of a goddess.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook in conjunction with the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]
One of the things that drew me to Summer Queen in the beginning was the idea that this was finally some different fantasy. In the beginning of the blurb it sounded pretty typical but then things quickly got good so I decided to sign up for the tour. And in the end I’m glad I did because Summer Queen is anything but typical.
We start off meeting our main character Nelay preparing to seduce a king. Not because she’s particularly interested in him or seduction in general but because she wants to distract him while she makes her move to escape. The king, Zatal, is not marrying her because she’s sooo beautiful or the usual tropes but rather because the High Priestess of the fire goddess has told him he must marry an acolyte of the goddess in order to save his crumbling kingdom that used to be an enormous empire. Naturally, Nelay was chosen because she’s a high ranking priestess who is quickly looking like she’s going to challenge Suka, the old High Priestess for her job. But Nelay really doesn’t want anything to do with this man (who is in love with his thoroughly unsuitable mistress, not her); she wants to find her family. So she hires the smuggler Rycus and escapes.
Nelay is a very resourceful character. Not only is her butt-kicking awesome but in general Nelay is very analytical and thinks things through before doing them. She can sometimes be impulsive but at least she can also come up with plans while she’s doing the impulsive thing. It’s really nice to have a strategic thinker as a main character, despite her flaws like arrogance and the occasional bouts of selfishness. All of her more strong emotions are tempered quite nicely by Rycus, who is very easy going and thoroughly attractive. In the beginning Nelay and Rycus aren’t exactly buddy-buddy but through all of their adventures in the desert, in the various towns under enemy occupation and in the last standing city in the Idaran empire they start to realize that maybe they’d make more than just a good fighting team.
The plot of Summer Queen is actually quite fast for a high fantasy novel but Amber Argyle never sacrifices background information for plot. She maintains a nice steady pace with frequent bursts of pure action but at the same time readers get a pretty clear picture of the history of her fantasy world. And the history we learn through Nelay’s eyes isn’t necessarily the real history as we find out later when other characters come clean. Let’s just say that assuming things in Indara aren’t all that they appear to be. This rings especially true throughout the final battle as Nelay takes on more responsibility than she ever thought possible and learns that sometimes you have to sacrifice a little of yourself to save your people and even then it might not be enough.
Basically, if you’re looking for some well written and diverse fantasy, I’d recommend Summer Queen. It’s a great departure from a lot of typical fantasy tropes and Amber Argyle has clearly done her world-building. Technically speaking it’s not the first book in a series but apparently all of the books in this series can be read separately with complete understanding, just like I did. This is the first book of Argyle’s that I’ve read but it was so good I know it won’t be my last. Just go try it out!
I give this book 5/5 stars.
Amber Argyle is the number-one bestselling author of the Witch Song Series and the Fairy Queen Series. Her books have been nominated for and won awards in addition to being translated into French and Indonesian.
Amber graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in English and physical education, a husband, and a two-year old. Since then, she and her husband have added two more children, which they are actively trying to transform from crazy small people into less crazy larger people.
To learn more about Amber, visit her blog at amberargyle.blogspot.com
The Tour Hosts
6/15/2015- Curling Up With A Good Book– Review
6/16/2015- The Mad Reviewer– Review
6/17/2015- Arkham Reviews– Review
6/18/2015- In Love With Handmade– Review
6/19/2015- In Libris Veritas– Review
3 winners will receive the eBook bundle of The Faerie Queen Series. International!