The Impostor Queen is an amazing fantasy novel. It’s fast-paced fun, with a compelling protagonist, enthralling world-building, an intriguing magic system, and some great romance for flavor.
Elli has grown up knowing she’s fated to be the Valtia, the most powerful woman in the land, who uses her control over fire and ice to ensure peace and prosperity in the kingdom. Isolated from the rest of the world, she’s been taught to always trust her priests and to put her kingdom first. But when the old Valtia dies, Elli does not inherit her powers. After being forced to endure increasingly dangerous trials to unleash her magic, Elli learns that her priests plan to murder her, and she’s forced to flee the only life she’s ever known.
Although The Impostor Queen is epic fantasy full of magic and danger, at its heart, it’s very character driven — a story of characters figuring out who they are. As the story develops, it has lots of fantastic feminist themes: of self empowerment, of definition, of strength and courage in many forms. Elli isn’t the Valtia, so who is she? At first, she dismisses herself as a weak no-one, no use to anybody. The Impostor Queen is really about Elli learning to define herself separately from her title and deciding who she wants to be.
The book is also full of fascinating female relationships, particularly the one between the Valtia and her young successor, and the strong emotional bond they share despite other people’s attempts to control and isolate them.
Of course, all my favorite things about the novel are huge spoilers, as is often the case in books full of big plot twists and characters’ self discovery. But it is a wonderful, absorbing and compelling novel, with a lot of things to say. The first in a series, but a satisfying story in itself, and definitely worth a read.