Cover Image: A Queen in Hiding

A Queen in Hiding

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I added this book with a trigger finger. With a title like "A Queen in Hiding" and a description including fantasy, hired killers, and a queen hiding from political and physical threat; I was pretty stoked. I heard this series was supposed to be binge-worthy and several books being released one at a time each month.
I'm not very familiar with Sarah Kozloff and so I'm game to try something new.
The book starts out with a really cool introduction featuring the deserted throne room and some mysterious creatures bound to the queen (catamounts) wandering the empty rooms of the castle. It's a really cool set up.
I found the whole 75% from there to be VERY dull with too many point of view characters and some seriously sleep-worthy descriptions of the world.  
This is the first book in the series and probably meant to be the book to set up the others, but I don't really care about any of the characters or the plot points. Especially with the death(s) that happen through this book.
The characters are real enough, but the little princella. She's whiny through the whole book and didn't seem to change at all despite living with a farming community for 12 years. 
There are so many characters in this book too, so much that they are all included in an Appendix. That's fine, but a lot of the names are intentionally similar from the world building so I got completely lost with one perspective because he had three other brothers with practically the same name.
After the queen escapes and hides the princella,, practically nothing happens. You miss nothing by putting the book down and picking it back up with the last 25%. 
That's where Kozloff and the book really shines.  The descriptions of war and strategy are fantastic! She writes those scenes with great dialogue and actions from the characters. If the whole book was written like the last 25%, I would be all over this book. EXCEPT for one tiny thing. The ending fell really flat. The characters are all still very separate and they are going on separate journeys that I don't care about. There's not real compelling reason to continue the series. I guess at some point princella gets back to Cascada to become queen, but I don't really care-there wasn't much antagonism or anything that really gets in the way. Matwyck, is holding on to the throne, but I don't understand or care why she must be queen again. Couldn't she just leave and never come back? Matwyck doesn't seem like he's  being that awful of a leader. 
I would have enjoyed this book more with cuts of complete points of view characters and building up more of a resistance in the plot. I have no feelings of suspense, dread, or loss. That's not great when there is a string of books coming to continue the story that I don't feel is necessary. 
Someone tell me how this is a series worth reading? Tell me why the tiny extravagant details matter? Yikes.
This book is probably not for me and I couldn't recommend it, but maybe a different type of fantasy reader would enjoy this long form fantasy.
Was this review helpful?
The first in a quartet, this book has great world building, multidimensional characters, and  an intriguing pantheon of gods. Kozloff weaves the stories of several disparate people across the world of Ennea Mon,  The central character is Princella Cerulia, who is thrust into hiding at the tender age of eight by her mother, the queen, Cressa.  . Shortly after, Cressa is slain in battle and Cerulia vows to avenge her people and retake the throne from usurper, Lord Regent Matwyck.
Was this review helpful?
I'm convinced Sarah Kozloff is the secret love-child of Tamora Pierce and GRRM.

So Tor’s schtick with this series is that it’s a four-book series, but all four books were released in quick succession. Book one came out in January, and book four came out like two weeks ago. Great for those who don’t like beginning finished series (I’m not one of them). But there are very, very good reasons that sort of thing isn’t usual. For one thing, most authors can’t really afford to just write and write and wait until they have the entire series to start publishing them. It’s also a major gamble on the part of publishers - much safer to release one, see how it does, and then decide to release the rest if it sells. So for Tor to do this with this series is a HUGE vote of confidence on their part.

It seemed like a bit of a shaky investment at first, but Kozloff made a believer out of me. I’m super interested in reading the rest of the series.

So! Premise. Queen Cressa is the ruler of Wierandale, a nation watched over and protected by Nargis, the spirit of fresh waters. The Queens of Wierandale are always granted a magical power of some sort by Nargis, though Cressa finds hers (the ability to make people forget something through her touch) rather less than useful when it comes to the day to day ruling of her country. She is in a degree of consternation because her daughter Cerúlia, at 8 years old, has yet to manifest her powers despite being a few years past when she should have. Her talk of being able to speak to animals is dismissed as childish fancy.

(Spoiler alert: she really can talk to animals.)

The plot thickens in two different directions. One, the rival nation of Oromondo, which has been under a mysterious blight for years, is getting belligerent and eyeing its neighbors because the people of Oromondo, it turns out, like food. Two, Cressa is a rather ineffectual ruler, and her council is making moves to usurp her. She flees the capital before that can happen, hiding Cerúlia with a peasant family (and erasing their memories of who Cerúlia really is as a safety precaution) and fleeing to join her husband (admiral of the Wierandale fleet) at sea.

There are also a few secondary points-of-view sprinkled about: a servant at the royal palace, the usurping Lord Regent, a high-ranking Oromondo military officer, and a young scholar in the Free Cities.

I can certainly work with that as a premise, but I’m not going to lie, the beginning of this book was slow. I definitely had to push myself a bit to keep reading for the first half or so. That was one of my complaints. The other is the Lord Regent, who seemed very much like a cookie-cutter villain. I’m not concerned so much by either complaint. As for the first, things speed way up around the midpoint, give or take. Definitely had trouble putting this book down for the second half. And the Lord Regent is … not as central as I thought he was going to be, at first.

So, what about that admittedly-click-baity first line? That’s really how it felt to me. It kind of swung back and forth between young-girl-who-can-talk-to-animals and Westerosi brutality. And it works. It definitely works.
Was this review helpful?
A Queen in Hiding is a fantasy that's been on my radar for a while and it was a good read. It moved at a brisk pace, had some thoughtful bits in it, made it easy to believe in the intelligence of the characters who are supposed to be intelligent, gave me characters to like, portrayed character development (generally a key criterion for good stories), and so on. This was better than most books I give three stars; it just lacked any kind of deep insight, highly inspiring ideas, or other significance that could affect my life beyond the enjoyment of the tale and the appreciation for good writing.

My favorite part of this book is that it handled some (rarely managed) adult themes in an adult way, but did not belabor the fact it dealt with them. It feels like the work of a writer with some well-considered thoughts, and mature experience and observations of the world to inform her approach to such matters. I really appreciate that, including some realistic-feeling handling of the complexity of adult emotions. I don't have any particular comments to offer on the emotional states of the most immature characters, except to say that I don't think they annoyed me any more than the author intended.

I expect I'll read the next book in this series, and will keep an eye out for other books by this author.
Was this review helpful?
So I discovered this after seeing the second book. I am glad that I requested this. A good series about a change of power including the repercussions. The queen goes into hiding after she hides her daughter away. Her daughter grows up with a decent country family and learns about that is happening in her realm. We meet a host of other characters who could be important in the coming books. They have to start somewhere. Can’t wait to finish the series
Was this review helpful?
This novel is one of the best I’ve read this year! The characters are so dynamic yet relatable. I loved the flow of the story. It held my attention the whole time.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Rating this one was difficult. There were parts I enjoyed, and parts I was less enthusiastic about. I'll start by saying that this book it is without question a prequel to a larger story. It is very much about introducing characters and gathering together the threads of a larger plot. And my goodness, there are many threads. With upwards of ten different perspectives, some more prominent than others, at times learning about the world felt like drinking from a waterfall. 

I will say that the world-building was fantastic. I'm certain this series will garner many comparisons to Game of Thrones minus the unfettered violence and sexuality, but to me one of the most significant similarities was the author's talent in slowly revealing different parts of the world through the introduction of new characters and realms.

My qualm with the book, and where it lost a star for me, is unfortunately more of a personal one. While the plot and characters were interesting, it simply did not do enough to stand out from other epic/political fantasy I have read in recent memory, There were obvious distinctions, and clever quirks such as the Queen's Talent and the Old Color hair, but there was nothing in particular that struck a chord with me as being unique.  Furthermore, I found certain aspects to be predictable. For example, it is obvious from the beginning that Cerulia is going to be the character of focus. There's nothing wrong with this, but it lowered the stakes for me in the chapter's following her mother because I was so absolutely certain that she was going to die that it came as 0% of a shock when she did. I also wasn't yet invested as strongly n the other character storylines, though I'm sure this would change in reading following novels. 

Overall, a sweeping, epic fantasy that kept me hooked but didn't quite do enough to etch itself into my memory.
Was this review helpful?
Unfortunately I won't be finishing this for the foreseeable future as the direction the book took didn't work for me and I can't immerse myself in it, but there's definitely the makings of a promising series here and a lot to like about it.
Was this review helpful?
I did enjoy this book in most parts but I also found some parts to be dragging. Also I find it would have been much better with perspectives but that is just me. 

I am giving this 3 out of 5.
Was this review helpful?
A sweeping epic fantasy with excellent world building, an ensemble of characters, and unique magic. 

The main story revolves around Queen Cressa and her daughter, Princess Cerulia. The queens of their country are blessed with a magical gift from Nargis and blue hair. But at age 8, Cerulia’s magical gift hasn’t manifested yet. Not until assassins try to kill her mother. Cressa realizes that her whole court has been bought by one of her ministers. She hides her daughter and goes to the Green Seas to find her husband. Where together they decide to rid the area of pirates, to gain her support at home. Meanwhile, the Cerulia grows up and the rival country of Oso becomes more hostile.

This is the first book of a series. 

A perfect read for Robert Jordan’s WHEEL OF TIME series. Plenty of POVs, a complex political world, and racism based on hair color. 

(Strong language, multiple brief sex scenes, and battle violence.)
Was this review helpful?
I’ve unfortunately been on a run lately in my genre reading of books that are perfectly, well, “serviceable.”  They (mostly) keep my interest throughout, offer up some pleasurable reading for a few hours, but never rise above that “solidly decent” level. Nothing startles in the way of plot, language, structure, character. It’s smooth sailing across placid waters with no storms or reefs (i.e. bad writing), which is “nice.” But also no dolphins arcing out of the water, no humpback sightings, no sunken ships to explore, etc. In other words, nothing to stir the mind or soul, nothing to grab you and not let go, nothing memorable enough to have you proselytize the book to all your friends. And that’s pretty much where Sarah Kozloff’s debut novel A Queen in Hiding sits —a good book that will please most, even if it doesn’t excite them. 

Tor has decided to release Kozloff’s entire four-book NINE REALMS series over the course of a few months, starting with A Queen in Hiding in January and closing with The Cerulean Queen in April, so readers don’t have to be wary of yet another series that will have them wait several years (at best) to see what happens. 

We’re introduced in the first book to Queen Cressa of Weirandale and her young daughter Cerulia. Facing betrayal in her court, Cressa takes the desperate step of fleeing her realm to join her husband in his long-running battle against pirates, seeing victory there as the first step toward reclaiming the throne. On the way to her husband though, she installs Cerulia in hiding with a commoner family, using her Queen’s Talent to wipe the family’s memories so that they think the husband, Wilim, believes he picked her up as a newly-orphaned stray on his rounds as Peacekeeper. Three storylines therefore emerge from these events. One is Cerulia’s fight against the pirates and attempt to regain her throne. Another is Cerulia’s coming-of-age in a rustic setting far removed from her noble upbringing (in parallel with exploring her own Queen’s Talent — speaking with the animals). And the third is the usurper Matwyck’s attempts to consolidate power and track down and kill the queen and the princess.

Meanwhile, another plot involves the country of Oromondo. There religious fanaticism and desperation driven by plagues and food shortages has created a militaristic, belligerent nation bent on using invasion to control the resources of its less powerful neighbors. In this storyline we follow both a military officer of Oromondo and a  young scholar, Thalen, who lives in one of the nations facing potential war.

A Queen in Hiding is ambitious in its scope, covering multiple years and storylines while moving us across a number of settings and character POVs. And to some extent that ambition meets with success. The story moves at a good pace and does so easily and fluidly — transitions amongst times, POVs and settings are handled smoothly so there’s no confusion about when or where we are or with whom and the plot never really bogs down at any point. The world is admittedly a familiar one to fantasy readers, with its quasi-European Middle Ages monarchies and nobility, and various lands embodying the naval power, the “Free States” (here called the Free States), the island nation, the religious fanatic nation, and so forth. As is the idea of each land having a deity (here called a Spirit) that is linked to it and giving its people or rulers a special quality. But if it’s familiar it’s mostly handled in solid, pleasing fashion, if at times a bit sketchily, with one exception to be noted. 

Cressa and Cerulia are interesting, likable characters, as are Wilim and Thalen, if not particularly compelling. Wilim is the stolid rural man with a heart of gold, Thalen the bookish scholar who finds hidden depths. We enjoy spending time with all of them in spite of or perhaps because of their familiar good natures, their determination in the face of danger. The plot meanwhile doesn’t throw a lot of twists at you, but it carries you along easily enough, offering up some tense scenes now and then and several unexpected deaths such that you’re never really sure anyone is safe.

So, a “solid” pleasurable read for the most part, though a few aspects mar the experience a bit. One is that aforementioned familiarity of setting and character. Another is the sense that while we have big jumps in time, it’s hard to see that reflected in the characters beyond the obvious (Cerulia “fills” out, one character feels more aged, etc.). The villains, both character and country, at this point feel more than a little cardboard, with some attempts to make them more complex that don’t quite succeed. They also suffer occasionally from a convenient lack of competence which at times becomes implausible. I’m hoping that changes in the subsequent novels. Beyond the helpful incompetence, Kozloff resorts to a few other contrivances/coincidences in plotting now and then (more toward the end), and I admit I couldn’t quite figure out why Cressa didn’t use her Queen’s Talent to more effect early on, which in my mind would have precluded a lot of other events (which of course could very well be the reason). And while as noted there were some surprising deaths, I can’t say they had any true emotional impact.

Which is sort of how I felt all along while reading A Queen in Hiding. I went along satisfied enough from beginning to end, but never felt invested emotionally in story or character. It was a sequence of events that kept my interest, were well-constructed and smoothly linked, but I kept wishing for something to pull me a bit deeper. A solid beginning, but I’m hoping for more as I keep going in the series.
Was this review helpful?
The first book in The Nine Realms series, this 500-page novel is an intricately developed fantasy story. There is a tremendous amount of world and character-building. In fact, the majority of the story feels like exposition. This isn’t surprising considering it’s the first in the series, and it made for an immersive read. The author’s poetically expressive style vividly reveals a fantastical world of magic, political intrigue, and dynamically developed characters.

Political intrigue and struggles for power were at the helm of this story, and, though it was very involved and complex, it was also not difficult to follow. Queen Cressa is betrayed by power-hungry traitors who stage a coup to kill her. The Queen goes into exile, and Cerulia goes into hiding until she is older and has developed her magical abilities. I thought this was interesting, but throughout the book, I wanted…well, more – more conflict, more plot, more suspense, more action, more magic!

All of the ruling Queens have a magical gift, and Cerulia has the ability to communicate with animals. Though her ability is originally dismissed as the wishful fantasies of a young girl, Cerulia’s power proves beneficial at a time when she really needs it. Though this wasn’t the major focus of the novel, it was fascinating, and I am hopeful that these unique abilities will be further explored in future books.

The story started at a quick pace and hooked me immediately. However, after a few chapters, the pace slowed dramatically and the plot progression with it. About half-way through the book, the pacing picks up again and is faster-paced for the rest of the story. That being said, the magical elements, the immersive setting, and the deftly developed characters made for an interesting, if inconsistently-paced, epic tale.

Thanks so much to Netgalley for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I think that the premise for this series is interesting and the release schedule of one a month is intriguing, but ultimately, I found the book itself to be pretty generic.

The Positives: The world here is definitely one of the highlights, full of intrigue and political machinations, which are always welcome. I also found the magic system to be very interesting and original.

The Negatives: The narrative was incredibly disjointed and the pacing was really jumpy. Consequently, we had chunks of the book that spanned a few days and then other chunks that represented the passage of a couple of years. I found it really hard to connect to any of the characters, who all seemed a little bit one-dimensional, in my opinion.

I think this book will appeal to many, but for me, it wasn't interesting or original enough to want to pick up the next instalment.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I think I would have been interested in this book purely based on the description. Not super unique, but the kind of thing that I generally go for. But when I looked into it more, the “binge style” publication plan for the series as a whole is what really sold me: all four will be coming out within a month of each other! I love nothing more than binge watching a good show and if I’m re-reading a beloved series, I often “binge” that as well, reading all books in the series one after another. But it all still came down to how I felt about this first book, and overall…ok?

The Queens of Weirandale all have had abilities given to them as a birthright. As they age, these unique gifts make themselves known. But Cerulia’s are late in coming, not yet identified into mid-childhood. And then, even that becomes a minor concern as she is forced into hiding, now orphaned and alone. As she grows, she must discover the power within her, not only her magical abilities, but those of a leader who must now reclaim her throne.

I both enjoyed this book and struggled with it. The opening chapter is amazing. It’s only a few pages long, but the style of writing is strong and compelling, laying the groundwork for a mystery that readers long to solve and a new fantasy world that one is eager to dive into. However, in the next few chapters it feels like the brakes are laid on big time.

The book turns out to be a very slow read, spending a lot of time in council meetings and introducing a plethora of characters. This all works to make the book read like a fantasy epic, but it also fights against the time most readers need to become fully attached to a main character in the beginning of the story. We have a few chapters for Cerulia and her mother early in the book, and both are immediately interesting and hooked me in. But as the story continued, it broke away from these characters more and more often, introducing a whole host of new characters, many of whom I struggled to care about. Like I said, it made the book feel as if it was fighting with itself or was in such a rush to expand its scale outwards that it left readers without enough time to fully invest in any of it.

But whenever we were back with Cerulia herself, I really enjoyed the story. While somewhat familiar, that of a lost queen working to regain her throne against a group that overthrew her family’s reign, there were enough interesting aspects thrown in that kept it feeling fresh. I also liked the fact that the magical elements of the story are used sparingly. This is a human drama, often focusing on the political machinations of various parties on a grand scale and then zeroing back in on small, but important, moments between individuals. Cerulia’s own abilities, once discovered, are used sparingly and there aren’t many others with magical abilities either.

As I said in my notes for the giveaway, one of the more intriguing aspects of this series is the “binge-style” reading that the publisher is aiming for, releasing all four books in four months. Judging by this one, however, these will be long books. This one comes in just under 500 pages. For some readers, that could be several weeks of reading right there. So one has to be fairly invested in this series (or a fast reader) to really want to commit four months to this large series. It is reassuring to know that they will all be out (not leaving readers waiting years for news of the next installment), so even if you can’t keep up with them as they come out this spring, they will still be there when you do get to them. I will likely continue on, but I wasn’t quite as caught up as I hoped to be and don’t necessarily feel the urge to binge read them myself.  

Rating 7: A bit slow and very long, this was still an interesting start to a new series that will all be published shortly!
Was this review helpful?
Rating: 10/10

If I could describe A Queen in Hiding in one word it would be “immersive”. The writing is so descriptive it is easy to get lost in the world of the Nine Realms. The characters are expertly drawn up, such that it felt as though I was experiencing everything right along with them. And the choice the author makes to write from multiple POVs of characters across the world from each other positions the reader as an all-seeing observer, watching the action take place from up close but not being able to affect the action. There were times I wanted to engage a character to protect them from harm or warn them of impending danger. During the times I was reading this book, I was completely submerged in the story.

A Queen in Hiding is also a very balanced book. While there is a lot of political intrigue, the story is not all gossip over tea and bureaucratic scheming – there is a lot of action, too. Not to understate it, as there is plenty of conspiracy and divisiveness, most of it was used as lead-up to some kind of conflict that results in a climax in the story. These mini-crescendos and diminuendos, ebbs and flows, allowed the story to persist at a pace that kept me engaged as a reader. Because of this, I found the book difficult to put down.

This book has so many characters that is was difficult to keep track of them in the beginning. This is not necessarily a negative, though, because it is necessitated by the world-building. There are Nine Realms to cover and several POVs, each having their own family, friends, and acquaintances with whom they are sharing experiences. As the story went on, it became easier to keep track of characters and their storylines, particularly because they each is written so uniquely.

The ending was really good, too, with some of the characters’ stories intersecting and others still doing their own thing. It takes a lot of planning to get storylines to converge in this way, and it seems as though the rest of the characters will be in on it soon, as well.

I usually dislike this comparison, because it is made too often (and it usually comes off as a bad marketing ploy), but I actually got major A Song of Ice and Fire vibes from this book. From the descriptions, to the characters and multiple POVs, and the way it is written focusing on each characters own journey while simultaneously sowing the seeds of converging storylines; A Queen in Hiding is quite similar to the notoriously complex and well-loved series. I hope that continues for the next three books in the Nine Realms procession.

I cannot recommend A Queen in Hiding enough. I loved it, and I think all fans of high fantasy and A Song of Ice and Fire, will, as well.
Was this review helpful?
The moment I read the synopsis for A Queen in Hiding I was sold. It sounded like everything I could ask of a fantasy novel with the added bonus of only having to wait a month for each book in the series to release.

But wow was it slow. 

A Queen in Hiding starts strong and I was excited to watch Cerulia grow and learn and hold her own in this female-centric cast. In that regard I was reminded a bit of Mark Lawrence's Red Sister which sees a young girl (Nona) grow up over the course of the trilogy. Here it just wasn't working because the book lost Cerulia's focus.

For a while, the perspectives bounced primarily between Cerulia and her mother Cressa, but later on we're introduced to a much larger cast of characters that... well, I didn't care about them, which made slogging through their scenes even slower than they needed to be.

I'll hand it to Kozloff, though. It couldn't have been easy to weave so many story lines together in a cohesive manner. The plot points hit, the characters were well-developed and multi-faceted. The world-building was the sort you could lose yourself in for hours on end.

But I was bored. In order to set up all this intricate world-building and ensure the characters were in place, you end up spending over half the book waiting. Cerulia, despite the synopsis indicating she's the primary character in this story, is often absent from scenes and when she's there I didn't really care one way or the other (not promising for three more books about her adventures...).

The pacing was my predominant issue with A Queen in Hiding and makes me wonder why the series is being released so readers can tackle the stories back to back in such a short time-span (one book per month). This sort of story just doesn't strike me as a good fit for that kind of reading but then again, I struggled with the whole book so that opinion is biased.

I'm disappointed I couldn't get into A Queen in Hiding more. It seemed like such a great fit but just wasn't for me.
Was this review helpful?