The Queen of Ieflaria is the first book in the fantasy romance series Tales of Inthya. The second book’s title hasn’t been announced yet, but it will follow different characters.
The two PoV characters and their romance were my favorite aspect of the book. If you’re looking for a slow-paced, sweet f/f romance between princesses with a sideplot about magical creatures, The Queen of Ieflaria is perfect for you.
I loved Adale. She’s not your typical rebellious princess who wants to fight or run away because she’s in love with someone else. She’s just not good at communicating with people, not good at following her tutors’ lessons, not good at understanding nuance in conversations – she doesn’t feel good enough to be queen. I really liked how this book showed that awkwardness isn’t the only thing that matters: seeing your subjects as human is more important than etiquette. Adale is flawed at the beginning and is flawed at the end, and maybe will never be a perfect queen, but she isn’t alone.
Esofi’s personality was, in many ways, the opposite of Adale’s. Esofi has been brought up knowing she will not marry for love, and she finds the idea of an arranged marriage almost comforting, which is uncommon – arranged marriage is usually portrayed negatively in fiction. Esofi knows how politics works; she’s born for this. She is a great magician, and good at many things Adale isn’t able to do, but she doesn’t know how different Ieflaria is from her own land.
Adale and Esofi made a cute couple and complemented each other; after the miscommunication at the beginning I found them adorable.
I can’t say the same of the side characters, who were often underdeveloped and one-dimensional. The magical creatures were far more interesting, and this book features dragons and a unicorn.
After the slow beginning (the writing isn’t heavy, but often it tells instead of showing and there were some infodumps), the book grew on me. The worldbuilding wasn’t as developed as I would have liked, but the concept was great – not only same-gender couples are common, the world is also pan-normative and trans-inclusive. Most supposedly queer-inclusive fantasy books seems to forget that trans people exist, and while there were no major trans characters in The Queen of Ieflaria, there is a non-binary god and some non-binary minor characters. Also, magical transition is possible.
The magic system isn’t explained in detail, and the theme of the conflict between magic and science could have been developed more – it would have taken Esofi’s arc further, which would have been interesting – but I understand why the book was focused solely on the romantic plotline.
TW: fatphobia and fat shaming (Esofi is fat); brief mention of suicidal ideation (Adale, at the beginning).
My rating: ★★★¼