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The Rightful Queen

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This is the second book in Isabelle Steiger's fantasy series. Having read and enjoyed book one, I really appreciated this second installment. The book is full of twists and turns, and I loved how the characters grew throughout this book. The one criticism that i would give is that, like all high fantasys, the cast of characters was huge! It was hard to keep track at times, but it all started to make sense as the connections between them grew.
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Second in the series this book is a little more of a slow burn, but no less engaging. In fact the writing is certainly better than the first and the richness of the world makes the reader feel as if they are there in the book. One of the most notable things about this series is the richness of the female characters in particular. I think those of us who have fallen in love with this series will be impatiently waiting for book 3.
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This book was so fast-paced! There was action, plot twists, and great character development! It might even be better than the first one.
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I haven't heard this story mentioned much, but I am so glad I found it and really enjoyed reading it!
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this was a great sequel to the first book, the characters were still great and I feel that they built on the first book. I hope there is more from the series.
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The Rightful Queen is the second installment from Isabelle Steiger's Paths of Lantistyne series. I thought it was a good read and am giving it four stars.
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A very interesting book, with the dramas that take place in a faraway kingdom. Lantistyne Territory has witnessed the war that Emperor Elgar caused. The members of Dragon's Head have had to take up arms again. King Kelken is increasingly desperate to protect himself. Arianrod Margraine is the Marquise of Esthrades, she schemes to strengthen Elgar's troops to win the battle. On the other hand, the Queen of Issamira is separated from the throne by a plan that includes the use of forbidden magic. Arianrod faces a very complex crisis that will require her intelligence and skills to be able to solve it. Adora Avestri is more than the true queen of Issamira, she is the key to defeating Elgar in this dreadful war. I liked that the author narrated the story through different points of view including constant dialogues between the characters. The story intrigued me throughout the whole book, the narration was entertaining and engaging. Another aspect that I loved was that the author emphasizes Adora, who has very difficult challenges to overcome. I thank NetGalley and StMartin's Press for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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The Rightful Queen is the sequel to The Empire’s Ghost and continues the story of all of our characters going on their different journeys, trying to defeat Elgear who wants to conquer all their countries. 

I enjoyed this much more than the first book in the series. The characters I liked really fell into place here and I kept falling in love with some a lot! I still think there is next to none in pacing, but still things happen in the “small plots”. I did enjoy myself more, but still struggled with the writing. I love the see the magic come out and other parts of the story grow! I just feel like how we ended here was where we should have ended in book 1 lol! I would recommend this for fantasy fans, tho! 3/5 stars.
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The Empire’s Ghost and The Rightful Queen are the first two novels in Isabelle’s Steiger’s PATHS OF LANTISTYNE series.  I was sent book two to review and while I don’t often review books whose predecessors I haven’t read, The Rightful Queen looked intriguing enough that I went back and read The Empire’s Ghost.  Unfortunately, that was some time ago, then life intervened as it will, and so I didn’t get a chance to review it while my memory was still fresh. It did leave me interested enough to read the sequel though, and so I’m going to review the opening to the series here as a whole, as one review, with some brief general recollections about The Empire’s Ghost along with a more fully detailed review of The Rightful Queen. 

Long ago, the empire of Elesthene encompassed the entire continent.  But the Empire, as empires are wont to do, eventually faded, along with magic, into mere legend, and the continent is fractured into several kingdoms. But now, Elgar, the Imperator of one such kingdom (Hallarnon), home to the Empire’s old capital of Valyanrend, seeks to bind the continent under one-person rule again, waging war via armies and other means against the other kingdoms.  

Arrayed against him (bear with me here) are:  Arianrod Margraine, Marquis of Esthrades; Adora Avestri, Princess Regent of Issamira; Kelken Rayl, eleven-year-old king of Reglay, and Laen Markham, heir to the throne of Lanvaldis (recently conquered by Elgar).  That covers (mostly) the aristocrats.  Also opposed to Elgar, though some more intentionally and actively than others, and some not for a while, are a number of non-royals. The Valyanrend group, who mostly get mixed up in things accidentally, is made up of Braddock, a former mercenary; Deinol, a bandit; Lucius; Deinol’s partner; a Shinrian swordsperson from Aurnis (conquered by Elgar); Marceline, a young orphan thief; Roger, a swindler/thief; Seth, a young kitchen boy; and Morgan; owner of the Dragon’s Head tavern in Valyanrend , where and the others have long gathered together. Others, either directly opposed to Elgar or entwined somehow in the machinations, include Cadfael, a once-soldier nearly destroyed by grief; Rhia, Cadfael’s sister and captain of Adora’s guard in Issamira; Seren, Arianrod’s bodyguard.  There are also a trio of “wardenfell’s” who are able to use magic and a handful of mysterious and powerful figures who pop in and out to give cryptic messages to move things along. And those who work for Elgar, the most important being Varaeln Oswhent his chief advisor; and Ritsu Hanae, his most icily effective killer.

Whew.  As you can tell from the above list, which is only a partial list of characters, the series involves a cast of thousands (only a slight exaggeration). It’s also pretty sweeping in geographical scope, as over the course of the two books we shift not only points-of-view but also move around amongst Valyanred, Esthrades, Issamira, Reglay, and Lanvaldis.  This is “epic” fantasy in all its usual modes: multiple POVs, multiple settings, good and evil and in-between/unsure, enchanted swords, mages and wild magic, a continent at stake, etc. Really, all we’re missing (so far at least) are non-human characters.

Introducing all these characters and their accordant plot threads, then growing those threads, takes a lot of time. And honestly, The Empire’s Ghost is a bit slow-going, feeling almost like a novel-length set-up for The Rightful Queen. Part of that is having so many characters means they’re spread a bit thin in terms of characterization and depth, leaving the author to rely on standard tropes (young innocent kitchen boy, jaded former soldier) or on tics (I lost track of how many times Arianrod either “smirked” or mentioned being “bored”).  I didn’t mind the pace of the first book, but it was difficult for me to feel fully engaged by many of the characters. It was this, more than anything else, that left me feeling at the end that the best word for The Empire’s Ghost was “solid.”  It was smoothly written, had if not “deep” characters many likable ones you didn’t mind spending time with, and set in motion enough intriguing plotlines (even if some relied a bit too much on convenience) that I never felt like quitting nor ever considered not moving on to the sequel. But it also didn’t exactly compel me forward (it wasn’t a book I read in one or two sittings) and left me interested to pick up The Rightful Queen but not hungry to.

Some of these issues remain in the sequel. We learn more about the characters, but I can’t say they felt deeper or more wholly realized. The revelations are more straightforward and often a bit more bluntly revealed than I prefer, and also can be predictable, whether it’s a relationship (or two) that forms (as one character says, “I suppose I ought to have seen that much earlier”), a reunion that occurs, etc. The characters remain (mostly) enjoyably interesting individually or in their interplay (even if I more than once still felt like yelling “will no one rid me of this troubling smirk” in any given Arianrod chapter), but I wouldn’t call characterization the strength of this series. They remain a bit thin, though the potential is there for more body, and I found myself at times wishing Steiger had sacrificed a few characters so we could spend more quality time with a few who seemed particularly ripe for richer portrayals. Especially as there are a few times where Steiger shows herself quite able to create some moving quiet personal moments.

Instead I’d say the plot is the best part of The Rightful Queen, even if I had some minor issues with some of it, such as when things seemed a bit easy or convenient.  But I enjoyed the sheer multiplicity of threads, becoming enmeshed in the tracery of so many story lines, some converging and some not (at least not yet).  The pace remains slow, and I can easily see some finding it too slow, but I have to say that The Rightful Queen, and the series as a whole, really grew on me as I read.  The deft manner Steiger weaves so many storylines together so seamlessly really makes for a smooth ride, and even if various parts of The Rightful Queen aren’t all that original (it is a genre novel after all), I found myself happily reading along.  If book one was “solid,” the sequel is “good with room for improvement.”  Luckily, the step up from book one to book two bodes well for the next one.
3.0 for book one, 3.5 for book two.
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This is the first book I read in this series and I think it's engrossing and entertaining.
I had no great issues with the characters or the plot and it didn't take a long to be hooked by the story.
The world building and the characters are interesting and I liked the storytelling.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Title:  The Rightful Queen   
Author:  Isabelle Steiger    
Genre:   Fantasy  
Rating:   4 out of 5  

The Rightful Queen returns readers to the territories of Lantistyne. Imperator Elgar has brought war to the continent once again, and the rogues of the Dragon’s Head, once forced into his service, are scattered to the winds, wracked by tragedy and struggling to reunite.

While a cornered King Kelken grows increasingly desperate, Arianrod Margraine, the brilliant but outmanned marquise of Esthrades, devises a plan to stretch Elgar’s forces thin and turn the tide of battle in their favor. But when the sheltered queen of Issamira is driven from her throne by a long-simmering plot and the use of forbidden magic, Arianrod faces an even more pressing crisis. 

Adora Avestri is more than the rightful queen of Issamira, more even than the key to defeating Elgar on the field—she has drawn the attention of beings older than Lantistyne itself, who possess hidden knowledge Arianrod has long desired. But if the queen and the marquise hope to survive long enough to learn it, Adora must find the strength to claim her birthright once and for all, and Arianrod must match wits and magic with a foe she has never before encountered: an equal.

I haven’t read the first book in this series. Sometimes, that’s not a problem at all. Sometimes, it’s impossible. This time…I should have read the first book—it would have made getting the politics straight and keeping the characters sorted out much easier—but I was still able to enjoy this book. 

I enjoyed the diverse cultures and characters—no cookie-cutter types here. I was intrigued by all the storylines, which is unusual for me with an ensemble cast, but I enjoyed reading them all. The cultures where quite varied and detailed, and I was fully immersed in the world and the story.

Isabelle Steiger lives in New York. The Rightful Queen is her newest novel. 

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)
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A few things to keep in mind before you pick up this series:
- Very large cast of characters,
- Highly political,
- Very character driven,
- Slow build up

If you aren't a fan of anything I listed above, this series isn't for you.

The first 50% of the book didn't feel as good as the first book felt to me, so I was a bit worried that this 2nd installment was going to disappoint me. Thankfully that wasn't the case. The rest of the book was excellent! 
The world expends significantly in the sequel, as does character development. There are many new additions to the cast but they all server a purpose. This 500+ page installment left me craving more and I really wish I had the 3rd book in my hands already!
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*** I received this book as a free copy from Netgalley and St. Martin's Press/ Thomas Dunne Books in return for an honest review ***

The plot thickens. That is one bit of good news. The second bit of good news is that the characters are still sympathetic and still detailed well drawn with lots of POVs. As before, Isabelle delivers another intricately-plotted novel set in a detailed world. The third bit of  good news is that the plot finally seems to be getting somewhere.

The bad news is that Isabelle now introduces a whole host of new characters. Just when you are sort of keeping track of all the original ones, there is a new royal family in Issamira, with its own queen and assorted other characters. There are also a new set of mages (in addition to Elgar and Arianrod in the previous book). There are embodiments of magic (the wardrenfells), there are sort of gods prowling around being mysterious as all get out. Everyone seems to kind of agree that Elgar is the baddie and needs to be stopped but this book has not much POV from Elgar, so I found myself somewhat puzzled as to why that consensus seemed to have set in. 

So once again, the bad news is that if you are looking for a clear plot-line with some idea of where the series is going, you are still screwed. It's the end of book 2 and I'm still not sure where the author is taking this series. I'm enjoying the journey, don't get me wrong, but I keep thinking to myself, are we there yet? Are we there yet? (The answer is no, in case you had not gathered that much). 

I would definitely want to read the next book - even if it is only to figure out where she is going with this. But if it takes a year (or more) to come out with the next and that still ends with no resolution, it's going to be just like George R.R. Martin (minus the brutality in GoT) but just the same amount of feeling of get-on-with-it for god's sake! The readers are not going to live forever, especially not in covid times. It would be good to figure out what happens before we all die.
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I enjoyed "The Rightful Queen" much more than I did "The Empires Ghost". The character development was much better - both for existing characters, and those that were added to the second book. I also thought the plots of the various characters were much better laid out and had better purpose than the first book. 

"The Rightful Queen" had some very good adventure sub-plots that kept me engaged.  I particularly liked the addition of the Adora character, the fact that she was conflicted over her situation, and her growth through the course of the book. I also appreciated that Marceline's role was expanded upon and that she was much better developed in the second book. 

Going into the second book I wasn't sure that I would continue the series, but now that I've finished it I look forward to the third.
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The Rightful Queen by author Isabelle Steiger is the second book in the Paths of Lantistyne series and like the first it feeds my every desire for high tension fantasy filled with twisty maneuvering and characters to love and loathe. The world grows richer, the plotting of the characters deepens and darkens.

This part has a touch more adult tones that the last, but in general the same feel. It is the kind of story that commands your attention, as the moves taking place are both subtle and overt and you get so caught up that even have to pause to sleep or eat is a struggle... I seriously growled when the phone rang.

If you enjoyed fantasy along the lines of GOT this is a series you'll want to get lost in. Make sure you start at part one as you'll need/want to know the motivating factors of everyone. I highly recommend this for fans of epic high fantasy. I hope there is more from Isabelle Steiger soon.
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Wonderful continuation of the story, great storytelling and world building I definitely look forward to what’s next. I would definitely recommend this read but make sure your read the first book in the series otherwise you might be a little lost but it was a great book as well
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If you are a reader of epic fantasy or enjoyed watching Game of Thrones and want to read a book like it, then I think you will really enjoy The Rightful Queen by Isabelle Steiger. This is the second book in the Paths of Lantistyne, and unlike other series, I really recommend that you read the first book, The Empire’s Ghost, before diving into this one. If it’s been awhile since you’re read The Empire’s Ghost then I also highly recommend that you read the list of characters at the beginning of The Rightful Queen to help you remember the characters… unless you have a great memory, then you may not need to, but I definitely did!!

Steiger begins right where the first book ended and continues to weave various characters into each other’s paths while keeping others apart when all you want for them is to meet up again. There are events that are happening in about four different regions and they all tie together, some of the adventures come together in this book, while Steiger writes up even more circumstances that will carry us into the next book. To me, this makes for an excellent writer, someone who can manipulate the story seamlessly and leave the reader wanting more.
Another thing that is great about this epic fantasy series is the female characters not only being in true power, but not being written into the story scantily dressed and only waiting around in the wings as a love interest. Having read epic fantasy since the 90’s I read a lot of books where this happened, and I didn’t even realize it since this was the only type of story that was available, or at least that I knew about.

Another cool thing, not only is Steiger introducing us to new characters, but she even gives us a new plot line in this book. Not just a subplot, but something entirely new from the first book. And I love the direction it is going. A new mythology that I am interested to see how it plays out and if it will end up crossing into any religions/myths that I am aware of.

I highly recommend The Rightful Queen (and The Empire’s Ghost), and since epic fantasies take longer to write then other genres, I will be patiently waiting for book three… hopefully not as long as for George R. R. Martin’s next book. ;)
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This book is long and slow paced.  There are many characters to keep track of.  I just couldn't get into it.
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Is it possible to like this book even more than the first one? Steiger has created such a fun world with dynamic characters and so many twists and turns. 

The Rightful Queen picks up right where we left off in the first book. We get the same cast of characters, but we also get so much more than that. We get new characters, new plot lines, and even more questions. The plot dances around to different areas of the world, but it's fun to see how they're connected (and how they might later come together!). My favorite character is still Arianrod, but a few others are itching to steal my heart. 

This book is for people who enjoy massive world building and a lot of characters (think Game of Thrones!). I didn't find it hard to keep track of all of the characters, but it's definitely not an easy and quick read. It has a lot of great plot points, plot twists, and character relationships. It's not the kind of book I could sit down and read in a day, but not because I didn't thoroughly enjoy it. 

I would highly recommend this series to fantasy lovers who enjoy complex fantasies. I've found myself fully invested in the characters and I love where the plot is going. Definitely a must read in my opinion!
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This one took me some time to get into. I'll be honest and say that I'm guessing it's mostly my fault since I didn't reread the first book before starting this one. Nevertheless, : The fantasy world of The Rightful Queen continued to impress and engage me. 

There are a lot of things that happen in this story and I won't spoil it for anyone. There's some swoons and heartbreak and laughs and it's just a rollercoaster. Steiger excelled in writing wondrously complex characters. No one was inherently evil, but everyone had a motive behind their actions. The plot though, oh man. Political intrigue is off the charts in this, and it's oh so good. This book is filled to the brim with action, tension, drama and moments that make your heart hurt. This book is everything I'd want in a fantasy book (and some aspects, more than I could've hoped for).

There were a few things I didn't see coming and while I would have like a little more from the ending, it was pretty satisfying.
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