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The Queen of Izmoroz (The Goddess War II)



[A quick note: This is a pre-publication copy given to me by Orbit for a review. Isnโ€™t it beautiful? This might be one of my favorite covers OF ALL TIME. Seriously. I canโ€™t get over it. If you havenโ€™t read The Ranger of Marzanna, this might be a bit of a spoiler, but I really tried to avoid too much in the way of spoilers. You can read my review for The Ranger of Marzanna here.]


โ€œ๐—ข๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐˜† ๐—œ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐—น๐—น ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ป ๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ป. ๐—จ๐—ป๐˜๐—ถ๐—น ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ป, ๐—œ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐—น๐—น ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—น ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ต๐˜.โ€โ€”Jon Skovron

Sonya has done her part to push the Empire out of Izmoroz, but the country she thought she knew has a deeper surprise in store. The first battle might be over, but war lurks on the horizon, and Sonya has yet an even bigger part to play. Meanwhile her brother has retreated to Magna Alto with imperial forces in search of atonement, a way to make right the wrongs in his life. Within the capital, betrayal lurks around the corner, traitors hide in plain sight, and everything is about to change.

Multiple POVs, intriguing characters, unassuming political intrigue, and a fast-paced plot made this impossible to put down! Oh how the gods like to play. I do love a good deity rivalry. These gods are ruthless and unforgiving. Humans of the mortal realm are simply game pieces to them. Here we have two female deities, sisters intent on out-maneuvering one another, forming the backbone of the story. Our cast of characters are merely pawns. I enjoyed this perspective.

The chapters moved fast, speeding me through the story. Each followed a different character jumping between Sonya, Sebastian, Jorge, Irina, and a few more minor characters. They played very different roles, faced struggles of their own, portrayed both strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, they endeared themselves to me. With some multi-POV books, I can get a little jaded and choose favorites. Not so here. I was excited for EVERY switch. Eager to see what was happening. Skovronโ€™s writing style is like popcorn kernels going off, each pop a new and engaging form of entertainment.


But what I liked most was the deep level of political intrigue lurking in the background. It did not outshine the plot or the characters. It was woven so seamlessly that it never once took away from the story. Politics written for a story rather than a story written for politics. Story first, politics second. As it should be to highlight character arcs.


Speaking of, we see two distinct character arcs. Sebastianโ€™s and Sonyaโ€™s. Sonyaโ€™s was related to her identity and perhaps more shocking. She was forced to question everything she held so firmly to.

โ€œ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜†๐—ฎ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฑ ๐—ฎ๐—น๐˜„๐—ฎ๐˜†๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ผ๐—น๐—ฑ ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ฅ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€ ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ปโ€™๐˜ ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ต. ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—Ÿ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐˜† ๐˜„๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ, ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—บ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐˜€. ๐—•u๐˜ ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜†๐—ฎ ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—น๐—น ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐˜๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜‡๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐—ต, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—บ๐—ผ๐˜€๐˜ ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ ๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ฒโ€™๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ป ๐—ผ๐—ณ๐—ณ ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜†๐—ฎโ€™๐˜€ ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜€, ๐—ด๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ฒ๐˜†๐—ฒ๐˜€, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜†๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ต. ๐——๐—ถ๐—ฑ ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜†๐—ฎ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐˜† ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—น๐—น ๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ธ ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฑ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐˜† ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—บ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—Ÿ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐˜† ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฑ?โ€โ€”Jon Skovron

But Sebastian also faced a moral questioning. This started from the beginning as he began to reflect on the events of the past book. Guilt. Morality. Death. All of these things came together and forced him to question his beliefs.

โ€œ๐—ช๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐˜‚๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ธ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—น๐˜€ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—น๐˜† ๐˜๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ถ๐—ฟ ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ด๐˜๐—ต, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ผ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ธ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—น๐˜€ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ. ๐—œ๐˜โ€™๐˜€ ๐—ฎ ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ-๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฐ๐˜†๐—ฐ๐—น๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐—น๐˜€, ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐˜‚๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ปโ€™๐˜€, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ.โ€ โ€”Jon Skovron

I enjoyed this one almost as much as the first one. It had a slightly different feel, because there wasnโ€™t one common cause. In the last one, defeating the empire and driving them from Izmoroz was really the only focus. This book had a broader scope. It moved faster, and didnโ€™t give quite as much deep detail. Events were skimmed a bit more. But that was necessary to tell the story, I think.

I think this is the kind of fantasy that will appeal to a wide audience. Itโ€™s got a some really cool magic systems, tons of fighting, plenty of political intrigue and world building. It really feels like a full package.

I wanted to give it 5 stars like the first book, but Iโ€™ve actually become a much harsher critic since my early days of reviewing books. While I donโ€™t plan to demote my rating on the first book, I think Iโ€™m going t go with a solid 4.5 on this one. It was close to what I consider a 5 star. Very close.

MY RATING: 4.5/5โญ๏ธ

Thanks so much to Orbit for sending me a pre-publication copy in exchange for a review!

โ€œ๐—ช๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜โ€™๐˜€ ๐˜€๐—ผ ๐—ด๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜ ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ต๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด? ๐—–๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ถ๐˜ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜„๐—น ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฑ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ธ ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—บ, ๐—ฎ ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฏ๐˜‚๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฑ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต, ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ฎ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ? ๐—–๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ถ๐˜ f๐—ฒe๐—ฑ ๐—ฎ ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฑ, ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ ๐—ต๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ, ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—บ?โ€โ€”Jon Skovron
โ€œ๐——๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ต ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—บ๐˜† ๐—บ๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜€.โ€โ€”Jon Skovron
โ€œ๐—ฆ๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐˜„๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ด๐˜๐—ต ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ฒ, ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜€ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐˜„๐—ป ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ธ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐—น๐—ถ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐—ณ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฎ๐˜. ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜† ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ฑ ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ด๐—น๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐˜† ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜†๐—ฎ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฑ ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ, ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ฏ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ธ๐—ฒ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—บ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ.โ€โ€“Jon Skovron


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