Fantasy Book Review: The Queen of Izmoroz by Jon Skovron

Fantasy Book Review

Title
The Queen of Izmoroz
Author: Jon Skovron
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
Publisher: Orbit Books
Genres: Fantasy
Shelves: Female-fronted

While it took a while to find its stride, with a long stretch of travel and dialogue interrupting things just when they started getting interesting, The Queen of Izmoroz ultimately delivered on expectations. Jon Skovron further develops the characters of The Ranger of Marzann, expands upon the setting, and reveals intriguing new depths of the mythology. More importantly, he keeps complex questions of morality at the heart, asking tough questions along the way.

If there were a single word that could sum up The Queen of Izmoroz it would be hesitant. All the hope and confidence of the first book is gone, all the bravery and all the boldness, is undone by betrayal and self-doubt. We knew Sonya and Sebastian were being foolish in the first book, dangerously trusting to the point of gullibility, and here we see the consequences of that. The war has not gone the way either of them hoped, and the allies they thought they'd found are more foes than friends. It's tempting to say "I told you so," but Skovron makes us care too much for it to be that easy, forcing us to confront increasingly steep prices for the magics that drive them along the way. 

While the first book was already strongly female-fronted, with Sonya commanding so much of the narrative, it's even more so this time around. Irina, the siblings' mother, has more to do this time around, and I liked the role she came to play. It's Galina, however, who grows the most from book to book, eclipsing her role from the first to become a legitimate player in the game of conquest and rebellion. She's bold and brave and naïve at the same time, putting a political spin on the violence of war.

I had a few small quibbles with the story, not the least of which is people in power who trust those who clearly are threats to their power. They were minor, however, and nothing that holds the story back. I was concerned with where the mythology element might be headed, worried about the literal execution of deus ex machina, but I think Skovron nails the balance between interfering divinity and voyeuristic celestials. 

The Queen of Izmoroz twisted and turned a few times before the climax, but where it ended up was entirely satisfying. It leaves a lot of potential open for the third book, a lot of unanswered questions, and I'm genuinely unsure where that will take us - which is a rare joy in the genre.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

Comments

  1. I'm glad that you found this book was an ultimately satisfying read - it's a tricky thing to pull off, having your protagonists suddenly falter and lose momentum once they are confronted with the consequences of their headstrong actions. And it takes a special sort of author to be able to write that dynamic successfully. Thank you for an enjoyable review:)

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