Published: August 18, 2020
Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press
Pages: 496 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 3.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
When a country is held in thrall to a vicious, despotic king, it’s up to one woman to take him down.
Long ago, Queen Mirantha vanished. King Karolje claimed it was an assassination by a neighboring king, but everyone knew it was a lie. He had Disappeared her himself.
But after finding the missing queen’s diary, Anza—impassioned by her father’s unjust execution and inspired by Mirantha’s words—joins the resistance group to overthrow the king. When an encounter with Prince Esvar thrusts her into a dangerous game of court politics, one misstep could lead to a fate worse than death.
Esvar is the second son to an evil king. Trapped under his thumb and desperate for a way out, a chance meeting with Anza gives him the opportunity to join the resistance. Together, they might have the leverage to move against the king—but if they fail, their deaths could mean a total loss of freedom for generations to follow.
My interest was piqued when I read the synopsis for The Vanished Queen, but I was genuinely surprised when I enjoyed it as much as I did. The book was such that it could have either become a total bore or quite the adventure and fortunately it landed on the adventurous path. Now admittedly, there’s quite a lot of politicking and talking so if that’s not your cup of tea then you may not enjoy this as much.
The two main (current) POVs in this book are Anza and Prince Esvar. Anza is a talented archer and collegium graduate who has gotten involved with the rebellion against the cruel King Karolje. Her father was highly ranked in the King’s guard but was executed just prior to the events of the book, spurring Anza’s choice to join the rebels. Prince Esvar is not fond of his father either, after his mother Queen Mirantha was Disappeared so many years before. He supports his elder brother Tevin and they hope to make a play for the throne soon, but they lack support from the lords. Esvar is much less remarkable than Anza, who is by far the more interesting POV. The prince is somewhat frustrating because he bends so easily to his father who is ailing. He could simply stick a sword in him on a few occasions and he just… doesn’t. It’s quite frustrating, really. The reader also gets bits of Queen Mirantha’s POV, but hers is obviously leading up when she is supposedly killed by Karolje. I like that we get her story as well – it makes her disappearance much more impactful and gives the reader more sympathy towards her children Esvar and Tevin.
As I mentioned, there’s a great deal of politicking and dialogue in this book, but there are some intense little bits of action here and there. Typically, I prefer books that lean a little more towards action-packed, but The Vanished Queen worked out surprisingly well for me. The subterfuge, tension, and all that other good stuff makes up for it! Overall, this was a surprisingly engaging read though I can certainly see that it won’t appeal to every fantasy reader.