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. 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.
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Freya is a scientist, always experimenting in her makeshift lab to try and create things that could potentially help people as well as get her away from her home town. When she becomes Queen however, all that changes. It isn't acceptable for a Queen to be experimenting with poisons and metals and fire. Freya has to pretend science isn't her passion, until another attempt for the throne is made, and Freya decides to try one more experiment. She is a strong and brave Queen once she opens her eyes to the problems her advisers attend to. She is also honest. She makes a good Queen, though she does make mistakes.
The premise intrigued me from the beginning, and I wanted to read this book merely to find out they mystery: who killed all those people and why? We don't find out until the end, though there are some good hints along the way. The author is skilled in a way that when she writes, she can turn your doubt and suspicion onto someone completely innocent. The character that is actually the most suspicious ends up being one of our favorites, or a t least fairly likable. By the end of the book you will be thinking 'I knew it!', but then you will recall you doubt and accusations of other characters. This made reading more enjoyable for me, though there wasn't that much mystery to be honest. It was more so politics and romance.
Romance wise, there is not much. We see characters getting closer and creating a bond, and they get teased at times for liking each other, but again nothing really develops there until the end.
Overall, Long May She Reign tells a tale of a young girl's journey to royalty, and how she struggles not to become someone else.
What I liked:
Our main character, Freya, goes from being a minor noble (twenty third in line to the throne) with dreams of leaving to study science, to being a queen after the entire court is poisoned, including the King of Epria. Freya is awkward and unfit in the beginning, easily manipulated and criticized by her peers, but she grows into her role and starts to act as someone meant to rule to the point of fighting and doing anything to protect her kingdom.
Long May She Reign had me intrigued about the mystery of what, how, and who had poisoned the entire court. It led me to not trust a single character, except for Freya whose innocence was the only one I was sure of, and I was always wary of every character who surrounded Freya in her new court. Everyone somehow had a reason to have killed the old court and that's what made the plot all the more interesting.
However, the ending to this book was my favorite part. Can't say much in fear of spoiling, but I will say that it left me smiling and quite pleased with how things wrap up ... or not. The beauty of this book truly shines in the last few pages, for you see how far Freya has come from the girl she used to be.
What Didn't Do It For Me:
While I do love that this book is a standalone, I was actually expecting it to be more action-packed. It's a bit on the slow side, sometimes uneventful, which made take a while to finish it! Mostly the first half.
Another thing that didn't do it for me was how the characters, except for Freya, weren't at all concerned about consuming food at court after the food poisoning attempts. You'd think they'd be more wary! However, they leave it up to Freya to investigate and they keep eating without worry. And even after Freya comes with an answer to make sure food is not poisoned, they don't seem to apply it. Wish they did!
Lastly, I also wish to have explored more of Epria in this book. Most of the story took place in Freya's old castle, especially her laboratory, which wasn't particularly exciting.
Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas is an intriguing read if you don't mind going at a slow pace. It is rewarded by a good main character who learns to grow past her prejudices to become someone fit to be queen.