Monday, March 11, 2013

REVIEW: The Destined Queen by Deborah Hale

Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: August 2005, Luna Books
Format: Trade Paperback, 411 pages
Source: Purchased from Books-a-Million
Can the Queen who has once done the impossible ever be free?

After awakening the "Waiting King" -- the one destined to free her country from the long occupation of the Han -- Maura Woodbury thinks her duty to her country completed. But Maura's task has only just begun. Rath, once a notorious outlaw, has no magic, and thus no power to expel the invaders from their kingdom. Yet the people expect a miracle. And so Maura, still new to using life-magic, is their only hope . . .

Maura must journey into the unknown, searching for a magical staff -- one that will grant the awakened king one grand wish. But separation from her consort breeds jealousies, devastating secrets and ties to an intimate enemy. Stricken by doubt, Maura and Rath are tempted to ignore the call of fate -- but what will happen to the country if they do?


After finishing The Wizard's Ward, which I enjoyed, I knew I had to go ahead and finish out this two-book story with The Destined Queen, and conveniently I had the second book close at hand. By the way, if you haven't read the first book, there will be some spoilers in this review... I had admitted to worrying that I wouldn't enjoy the second book as much as the first because the anticipation of the eventual romance between Maura and Rath wouldn't be there. And while it wasn't, Hale was adept enough with her story-telling that there were other events that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout much of the book.

Maura and Rath, as the Destined Queen and Waiting King, embark on another series of adventures -- first to the Vesten Islands, where they are called once they learn the truth about themselves at the end of the first book. On the islands, they are married and plan out the remainder of their quest to save Umbria from the destruction of the Hans. We meet the Oracle of Margyle, who was an unexpected character (you'd have to read the story to find out why!) and managed to unwittingly cause some mischief as oracles often do when sharing their prophesies.

Nearly half of the story actually sees Maura and Rath apart from each other, so at least there is the anticipation of their eventual reunion! Hale managed to surprise with some twists throughout the story -- Maura learns some shocking truths about her heritage that you can only imagine would be used against her in the form of blackmail. I was happy with how Hale chose to resolve that bit of the storyline, though... Maura remained true to her portrayal as a strong heroine, in the end. I will say that the portion of the adventure with Maura and Rath apart from each other was a bit slower than the rest of the book. We alternate between their points of view and it just didn't seem like the story advanced much during Rath's chapters as it did during Maura's. Overall, I did enjoy The Destined Queen as much as The Wizard's Ward!
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Read this if you like...
- What I like to call "lighter" epic fantasy
- A bit of romance thrown into your adventure (it's not over the top)

The Destined Queen (Umbria, #2)
**This is my third book towards the #TakeControl March 2013 TBR Challenge


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