The Reluctant Queen (The Queens of Renthia #2)
By: Sarah Beth Durst
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
In The Queen of Blood, Daleina used her strength and skill to survive the malevolent nature spirits of Renthia and claim the crown. But now she is hiding a terrible secret: she is dying. If she leaves the world before a new heir is ready, the spirits that inhabit her realm will once again run wild, destroying her cities and slaughtering her people.
Naelin has the power necessary to become an heir, but she couldn’t be further removed from the Queen. Her world is her two children, her husband, and her remote village tucked deep in the forest. But when Ven, the Queen’s champion, passes through her village, Naelin’s ambitious husband tells him of his wife’s ability to control spirits—magic that Naelin fervently denies. She knows embracing her power will bring death and separation from those she loves.
But Ven must find the best possible candidate to protect the people of Aratay. As the Queen’s power begins to wane and the spirits become emboldened, the only way Naelin can keep her son and daughter safe is to risk everything.
Alrighty, here we are, second installment of The Queens of Renthia trilogy. I enjoyed the first book enough so I was wondering how this new character plays a role in the story and where the story was going to go.
The Queen of Blood (The Queens of Renthia #1)
By: Sarah Beth Durst
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
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.
I have been staring at this book for perhaps two years now, lol. I think it first caught my attention while I was browsing a bookstore in Denmark; the cover was lovely and the premise was intriguing, but then like most books I encounter, I don’t actually pick them up until a year after the fact, lol. And here we are, in desperate need to read something that’s not nursing school-related and therefore checking out this book at long last.
The World of All Souls: A Complete Guide to A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and the Book of Life
By: Deborah Harkness
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase
A Discovery of Witches introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Shadow of Night and The Book of Life carried Deborah Harkness’s series to its spellbinding conclusion.
In The World of All Souls, Harkness shares the rich sources of inspiration behind her bewitching novels. She draws together synopses, character bios, maps, recipes, and even the science behind creatures, magic, and alchemy–all with her signature historian’s touch. Bursting with fascinating facts and dazzling artwork, this essential handbook is a must-have for longtime fans and eager newcomers alike.
I don’t remember why I stalled on picking up this book…It was probably the price, thinking I didn’t need a complete guide or anything. Who was I kidding? Of course I needed it in my life! lol
Red Fortress: History and Illusion in the Kremlin
By: Catherine Merridale
Format/Source: Hardback; my copy
The Kremlin is the heart of the Russian state, a fortress whose blood-red walls have witnessed more than eight hundred years of political drama and extraordinary violence. It has been the seat of a priestly monarchy and a worldly church; it has served as a crossroads for diplomacy, trade, and espionage; it has survived earthquakes, devastating fires, and at least three revolutions. Its very name is a byword for enduring power. From Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin, generations of Russian leaders have sought to use the Kremlin to legitimize their vision of statehood.
Drawing on a dazzling array of sources from hitherto unseen archives and rare collections, renowned historian Catherine Merridale traces the full history of this enigmatic fortress. The Kremlin has inspired innumerable myths, but no invented tales could be more dramatic than the operatic successions and savage betrayals that took place within its vast compound of palaces and cathedrals. Today, its sumptuous golden crosses and huge electric red stars blaze side by side as the Kremlin fulfills its centuries-old role, linking the country’s recent history to its distant past and proclaiming the eternal continuity of the Russian state.
More than an absorbing history of Russia’s most famous landmark, Red Fortress uses the Kremlin as a unique lens, bringing into focus the evolution of Russia’s culture and the meaning of its politics.
As the blurb states, the Kremlin is such a notable structure in Russia and so representative of the state that it makes sense that a book would be written looking at the structure itself and its place in Russian history and development. This isn’t my first encounter with Catherine Merridale’s research; I previously read another book of hers when I was in grad school and knew her work to be quite solid and unique in approach.
Germany: Memories of a Nation
By: Neil MacGregor
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Whilst Germany’s past is too often seen through the prism of the two World Wars, this series investigates a wider six hundred-year-old history of the nation through its objects. It examines the key moments that have defined Germany’s past its great, world-changing achievements and its devastating tragedies and it explores the profound influence that Germany’s history, culture, and inventiveness have had across Europe.
I believe I first came across this book as it was reviewed on The Economist. I think. Anyway this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered the topic of examining German history from its artefacts and cultural products; I first came across this approach in grad school when we were discussing Germany in the post-Berlin Wall period. The perspective is interesting, and in a way more tangible in determining the changes and character associated with a people’s history and identity. So I was pretty excited to check out this book.