Wednesday 24 April 2024

Book review: Queen of None | Natania Barron

Queen of None (Queens of Fury Book 1)Queen of None by Natania Barron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's been a while since I've read any Arthurian legends. I picked this up because the author's name sounded somewhat familiar - it seems I've stumbled across some of her Twitter threads on medieval clothes (?) or something of that sort. Besides, I'd never heard of Anna Pendragon before.

Queen of None is the story of the powerless women in King Arthur's court. They seem to have titles, prestige, and honour, but their lives are orchestrated and ordered by the men around them. In Anna's case, her brother King Arthur and his advisor, Merlin. It is a powerlessness that the men around them do not - and sometimes cannot - understand. For them, there is always a choice, always a decision they can make and unmake to shape their destinies. Anna's eldest, Gawain, keeps failing to grasp this lesson.

Where the legends of Arthur that I recall reading/watching make out Merlin to be a benevolent sage, the Merlin here is much darker. There is a menacing tone to his watching and meddling, the idea that he is evil in his machinations.

Anna Pendragon herself has a tragic life - because Arthur listens to Merlin over the happiness of his own sister. Arthur tries to make amends, but it is always too little, too late. I do not like the Arthur in this; then again, I do not think I am meant to like him. It is not his story.

No, this is the story of Anna finding her hidden strength, discovering the magic that runs through her mother's blood, and uncovering the battle between her mother's line and Merlin that has scattered her half-sisters and her aunts and twisted prophecies to their own ends. And in this, with her prophecy to be forgotten, Anna finds the chance to change history - if she can manage to make the magic work for her.

Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Solaris/Rebellion Publishing via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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