Sarah Kozloff’s breathtaking and cinematic epic fantasy series The Nine Realms, which began with A Queen in Hiding, comes to a thrilling conclusion in The Cerulean Queen.
The true queen of Weirandale has returned.
Cerulia has done the impossible and regained the throne. However, she’s inherited a council of traitors, a realm in chaos, and a war with Oromondo.
Now a master of her Gift, to return order to her kingdom she will use all she has learned—humility, leadership, compassion, selflessness, and the necessity of ruthlessness.
In The Cerulean Queen, the exciting fourth and final book in the Nine Realms series, author Sarah Kozloff details the fate of Cerulia, Weirandale, and the Free States. Last we saw, Cerulia was back in Weirandale under the guise of Wren – her adopted childhood name. Her foster sister was marrying Lord Matwyck’s son, the same Lord Matwyck who seized control of Weirandale after Cerulia’s mother fled. Thalen’s Raiders have just finished a battle with the Oromandos, who are resetting their army and making strategic decisions. There is so much to look forward to in the finale, as all of the storylines crash together in one decisive volume.
As reader, you can look forward to more of the same from Kozloff in this book. The author’s biggest strength is writing descriptive scenes, and there is no lack of description, here. This is what originally made me fall in love with the series. My review of the first book called it “immersive”, and that has never changed. Through each volume of the series, I have allowed myself to dive deeper and deeper into this world Kozloff created by letting those descriptions wrap themselves around me and take over my imagination – so much so that I did not much want to leave. The Cerulean Queen only cements that feeling even more; in fact, there are many times in this book where I thought the descriptions may have been overkill. Certain scenes dragged a little, and I found myself asking once or twice if we could move the plot along a little. But, I would rather have that than a book that skims over scenes, barely touching the surface as it gets to the end. Kozloff has written this book as a series of deep dives, leaving no detail untouched.
The same goes for the characters. They are so well-written throughout the whole series that it has become so easy to care about where they end up. We have watched Cerulia and Thalen grow up from timid youngsters to become confident leaders, and the same goes for players like Gunnit and Percia. And, while they are all really great, Cerulia steals the show. As the story is told through several perspectives, the reader spends more time with Princella than anyone else; which is no surprise, as this is her story. We get to hear every thought, capture every feeling, absorb every experience. The Cerulean Queen takes that to the extreme, as Cerulia takes the throne and now her decisions will decide the fate of her country and its people. This is a different side of the now-Queen: she is no longer in day-to-day survival mode. She has power, an army, retainers, and body guards all at her command. Every one of them willing to die for her on a whim. It is important that the reader see how she handles that power. Will she use her power to exact revenge on those who have wronged her, sacrificing the lives of her people in the process? Will she be a gracious queen or will regaining the throne boost her ego? Without giving too much away, I am happy to report that Cerulia does not disappoint.
I was really satisfied with the way the book ended. It took longer than I wanted to get there, but I did not necessarily mind hanging out with Cerulia for a while as the other storylines played out. When the climax hit, it hit hard – the story ends in a splash, proving Kozloff’s ability to write big scenes and tie a story up nicely.
The Cerulean Queen is a nearly perfect ending to what has been a fantastic series. I recommend this book (and the whole series) highly to any and all fantasy readers. I am sad the adventure had to end, but Sarah Kozloff has made a fan out of me. I am excited to read what she writes next.