Winner of a 2017 ALA Alex Award!
A Tor.com Best of 2016 pick!
Set in the magical world of Renthia, The Queen of Blood is Sarah Beth Durst’s ambitious entry into adult epic fantasy. With the danger of Peter Brett’s The Warded Man, heart of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, and lyricism of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, this is the first chapter in a series destined to be a classic.
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.
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.