This is a pretty good new fantasy series focused on what happens when women previously treated like chattel in a male dominated world are given the power to alter and improve their lives.
The story focuses on three women – a widowed woman with two children that had been disinherited by her king father, a young girl that is unexpectedly thrust upon the throne when a tragic accident kills the king and everyone ahead of her in the line of succession (she is expected to marry quickly and then surrender her throne to her husband), and lastly, an abbess of an abbey where nobel “unwanted” women are dumped after their husbands have divorced them, or their family has shunned them. They are forced to use their magic to create potions to make money for the crown, as well as work in the pavilion – the kingdom’s version of a brothel.
After a powerful spell that struck the entire world has life-altering consequences for women, they find themselves with power that had long been denied them. When a caravan of exiled women find a new source of magic that only women can wield in a previously uninhabitable part of the desert, the exiled womens’ power grows and they begin to form their own principality to govern themselves. This causes tension among the kingdoms, possibly leading to another war.
This is a pretty good book, but could have used a bit more editing. Clocking in at 560 pages, I feel like a good 200 pages could have been cut without affecting the story. The story moves pretty slow, and while there is some world building, there isn’t nearly enough to justify the length of the book. There is no explanation as to why women have such a subservient role in society, or why women are so easily thrown away to the abbey, even young girls, with no recourse. While the reader is told that the kingdoms once had a devastating war, there is not much explanation as to why they had the war, what happened, or why tensions are still so high.
Overall, I liked the book and it’s well written. I just think it was too long for what it was and could have been just as good as a shorter book.