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Upon the Flight of the Queen Hardcover – 19 November 2019
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In this sequel to For the Killing of Kings, Howard Andrew Jones returns to the Nine Realms of the Dendressi in Upon the Flight of the Queen to continue this imaginative and fun epic fantasy trilogy.
While the savage Naor clans ready to march on the heart of the Five Realms, Rylin Corimel infiltrates the highest of the enemy ranks to learn their secrets and free hundreds of doomed prisoners. His ailing mentor Varama leads the Altenerai corps in a series of strikes to cripple the Naor. Kyrkenall, Elenai, and the kobalin Ortok ride for the storm-wracked shifting lands to rekindle the alliance with the winged lizards known as ko’aye, the only possible counter to the terrible Naor dragons. Meanwhile, the queen is delving further and deeper into the magic of the mysterious hearthstones, in a frantic attempt to save the realms that just might doom them all.
Praisd for his ability to write modern epic fantasy that engrosses and entertains, Howard Andrews Jones delivers a sequel that expands the amazing world, relationships, and adventure that he introduced in the first book of this series.
Frequently bought together
- Publisher : St Martin's Press (19 November 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 432 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250148804
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250148803
- Dimensions : 16.13 x 3.43 x 24.31 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 397,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Summarizing a sequel can be tough without spoiling its predecessor, but the following overview will try as it showcases why you should commit to Ring-Sworn. Upon the Flight of the Queen starts off exactly where For the Killing of Kings ends. The adventure begins in high-gear with Alten Rylin assuming his action-thriller role (~James Bond) penetrating the Naor camp disguised in magic, dragging the reader into mayhem. A map was not necessary for the first book, but Upon the Flight of the Queen expands the scope of action across the Five Realms and a map appropriately complements the story.
The primary story arc still focuses on the coming of age of the female squire Elenai, a soldier with burgeoning magic prowess. Her rise in the Altenerai ranks is compelling. On her journey she campaigns with seasoned members who are still reeling from the previous war; their commander was killed, and their Queen Leonara decided to make temporary peace rather than annihilate the barbaric Naor enemies. War rages across the Five Realms of the Dendressi again, but now the Altenerai forces are less prepared, less numerous, and less united. By the end of this sequel, the new war with the Naor reaches a major milestone, and the Queen is confronted by the Altenerai. Upon the Flight of the Queen delivers on all the tension brewed in For the Killing of Kings, and you’ll still be left hungry for a third installment.
HAJ applies the same intense momentum from his Sword & Sorcery short fiction into these novels. Even though the Ring-Sworn epic spans a continent with dozens of characters, it propels without any filler. Likewise, despite there being ample political intrigue with the loyal Altenerai have been replaced with secretive Exalts of Queen, the conflict pulls no punches. HAJ simultaneously covers:
• Remnants of the past war (readers will learn about many of the Altenerai who went MIA previously)
• The current escalating war across three major fronts (the besieged Alantris, the corrupted Darassus; the lands about Vedessus)
• An impending cataclysm (meddling with hearthstones unsettles the foundation of the Five Realms).
How Can so Much Ground be Covered so Fast and Smoothly? The carefully designed milieu enables the efficient storytelling and informs everything: the magic systems, the health of the land, and every character’s motivations. The Naor, the kobalin, the Dendressi… all have cultures, and biology, intimately tied to the Five Realms and the conflicts between them. The Naor and ko’aye fight over nesting lands, the hearthstones obsessed by the Queen literally tap into the land’s substance, and as nature is reshaped, so too are the kobalin’s bodies.
Expect a Diverse Cast, with Contemporary Issues and Comic Relief: Don’t expect dwarves, elves, and such, since HAJ is always motivated to create fresh experiences. The Ring-Sworn has a unique cast of humanoid creatures, like the kobalin Ortok who provides humor as a fierce frenemy: if Ortok respects you, then he’ll challenge you to a duel to the death. Ortok’s banter and social analyses are hilarious. A few of the cast are sexually nonbinary (orientations are not a focus of the story, just low-key matters of fact). The macho Rylin certainly tries to charm more women than he deserves, but he is driven to be chivalrous and his approach to relations matures during the adventure. Gender roles even add tension amongst the masculine Naor ranks. Despite a requisite dose of masculinity (via testosterone-fueled violence), women play a dominant role in the book. In addition to Elenai’s role as lead protagonist, all the governors of the realms are female: Queen Leonara of Darassus, Verena of Vedessuus, and Feolia of Alantris.
The antagonistic Naor disdain modern sensibilities and civilization. They love to coerce/enthrall dragons to fight on their behalf, they ransack nesting grounds of the ko'aye and harvest blood from hundreds of people to fuel their blood-sorcery (sacrificial “olech” ceremonies). All that just makes them really entertaining, bad guys. While the standard humans are fascinated with hearthstone magic (at the expense of the land’s health), the Naor are thrilled to practice blood magic (at the expense of life).
Upon the Flight of the Queen reads quickly, and keeps the narrative fresh by hopping between several interrelated character threads in the style of modern fantasy novels. The Realms where the story is set are a fascinating fantasy land, with magically altered denizens living side by side with feudal serfs. The great heroes are exponentially more powerful than the common man, and magic remains truly mysterious – throughout the story, the reader is never fully informed as to why certain people look different from the rest or have special powers, no more than the denizens of the world know. The Realms dissolve into chaos at their edges, and appear to be floating in a sea of strange energy – or so we start to understand in this volume. There is a deeper truth to this world, its people, and it history. The previous volume in the series, For the Killing of Kings, revealed the first hidden truths in this setting: the gods weren’t gods, but simply powerful mortals who acquired world-building powers. Upon the Flight of the Queen reveals another layer of truth behind that: the victor writes history, and the gods’ reputations as they are now known reflects only select deities’ perspective on the truth. There are other perspectives, it seems, and perhaps other truths. And, apparently, a physical layer to the world which lies beneath the bedrock upon which these characters walk.
In the midst of this unfolding crocus of world-building, we have a fast-paced narrative of fantasy heroes fighting off an invasion from without and treason from within. The characters are distinctive and in many cases quite entertaining. The combat scenes are well-scripted: easy to follow, precise, entertaining, and something I could easily visualize as I read them. And the storyline keeps you engaged. I have to admit, I stayed up later than I should have on more than one night to keep reading until I could find out what happens next. This book will make you do that.