The Queens of Innis Lear

Tessa Gratton. Tor, $25.99 (576p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9246-6
Gratton’s enthralling debut fantasy novel reinvents King Lear as the tale of a king’s three daughters: Gaela, martial and ambitious; Regan, as desperate for a child as she is devoted to her elder sister; and Elia, a star priest and her father’s favorite. When Lear declares that he will divide the island of Innis Lear between Regan and Gaela and strips Elia of her title and dowry, the court is thrown into chaos. Elia must contend with her greedy sisters, consider her suitors—a nobleman’s bastard son, a nearby king who has his own plans for the island—and find a way to unite the island and undo her father’s disasters before it’s too late. Shakespeare aficionados will recognize the spine of the plot, including Lear’s terrible choices and the rivalry between the legitimate and illegitimate sons of nobility. Gratton sets her version of this story in an island kingdom where reverence for earth magic has recently been supplanted by star prophecy, which provides yet another thread of tension among the characters. Also, Lear’s wife was a dark-skinned princess from a foreign land, and the three daughters take after her in varying degrees. Gratton’s emphasis on the voices of the women (including Elia’s maidservant, Aefa) and the depth and dimensionality of their stories is what truly reshapes the familiar elements of the Lear tragedy into something fresh, with a suitably tragic yet satisfying ending. Agent: Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/29/2018
Release date: 03/27/2018
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-0-7653-9248-0
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