Author: Rhiannon Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss
The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.Review by Nara
Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.
Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.
Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.
As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.
Long May She Reign was an interesting standalone focused on a noble girl named Freya who would rather have been doing research in her lab than being a prominent figure in nobility. That all changes when there is a mass poisoning at a royal event, and she becomes next in line for the throne.
The beginning and end of the novel were quite strong, but the middle third of the novel was relatively slow. The whole novel is mostly focused on the politics of becoming queen and the conspiracy surrounding the mass murder of all the nobles. I actually quite liked reading about the court politics, and how Freya has to navigate her way through all the advisers trying to control her.
There actually wasn't really a fantasy aspect of the novel apart from the fact that it's set in a made-up world (and is therefore technically a high fantasy). I did like how there was a focus on science, and it was actually named "science" rather than alchemy or something like that. Not often that you see high fantasies where people actually properly do research.
Freya was frustrating as a character as she had a lot of ideas that were good in theory but not actually practical to implement. Didn't understand some of her choices, especially some of those at the end. She left many things unpunished in the guise of being a "merciful" ruler, but in reality, it just sets a dangerous precedent to future criminals. There's a reason why society punishes people who commit crimes. It was a bit odd as well, because one of the interesting facts about Freya at the start was that she suffered from social anxiety, yet towards the end this issue seemed to have disappeared completely, even when she was making official speeches to large audiences. Not quite sure whether the author meant it as that she had somehow overcome her anxiety or if she kind of just forgot about the issue. In any case, it wasn't very well done.
While there were some glaringly obvious negatives to the novel, I think overall, Long May She Reign was a pretty decent standalone. If you're looking for a high fantasy with more focus on court politics than on actual fantasy/magic, then this book would not be a bad choice.
World Building: 2.5/5