This is the second book in a fantasy series about how three different women – one a queen, one the crown princess of a new principality, and one the Abbess of an abbey – try to lead their people, and help women take back power over their bodies and their lives that had previously been denied by the men that ruled over them.
In this book, Queen Ellin becomes more adept at ruling her kingdom, but still makes mistakes and often must rely on guidance from one member of her Council and Zarsha, the man who wants to marry her. She is barely hanging on to her crown, isn’t sure who she can trust, and faces one adversity after another. Alys is also facing challenges in getting recognized by other kingdoms, as well as setting up trade agreements necessary for the survival of her young principality. Every day that Women’s Well is not recognized brings it closer to invasion and possible annihilation. She must make hard decisions for the better of her new kingdom that take a personal toll on her already fragile psyche.
To add another level of conflict, the fervent king of the island nation of Khalpar orders his abbess to find a way to reverse the spell (women refer to it as a “blessing”, men call it a “curse”) that changed the world. The abbess agrees to do it, but has ulterior motives for doing so.
Once again, this long book (592 pages) could do with some serious editing. Like the first one, 200-250 pages of this book could be cut without losing any of the story. Also like the first book, the story unfolds slowly. It focuses on the female rulers’ struggles to lead their people and avoid wars. The main characters are developed further, although they don’t make nearly as much progress as you would expect in a 592 page book. Ellin struggles with self-doubt, and Alys wallows in pain and misery, for much of the book. At a certain point something needs to give, but nothing changes much. This gets tedious to read.
Overall, this is a good second book in the series and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.