cover image The Rightful Queen

The Rightful Queen

Isabelle Steiger. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (544p) ISBN 978-1-250-08850-5

The elaborate second fantasy in Steiger’s Paths of Lantistyne trilogy picks up where 2017’s The Empire’s Ghost left off, with the comrades from the Dragon’s Head Tavern scattered and still reeling from their previous mission as Imperator Elgar’s forces continue their remorseless conquest of the continent in the hopes of recreating the ancient empire of Elesthene. Arianrod Margraine, the marquise of Esthrades and a powerful mage, is one of just two leaders left standing against Elgar. Eager for allies, Arianrod offers aide to Adora Avestri, the rightful queen of Issamira, who may hold the key to defeating Elgar at last. Though together they make small gains in the fight against the empire, no victory comes without cost, and when Elgar’s gambit is finally revealed, it appears that for all they have achieved, the real battle still lies ahead of them. Steiger maneuvers an outsize cast with aplomb, providing enough detail to keep readers engaged, despite a good deal of unwieldy dialogue. Fans who miss the political intrigue of Game of Thrones or the complex worldbuilding of Mercedes Lackey will find plenty here to hold them over. Agent: Thomas Flannery Jr., AGI Vigliano Literary. (July)