SFF

The Councillor

DAW. Mar. 2021. 448p. ISBN 9780756416997. $27. FANTASY
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DEBUT Lysande Prior was an orphan of the White Wars before she was plucked up as companion to Iron Queen Sarelin Brey herself. Scholar and the queen’s closest friend, Lysande leads her life by Elira’s motto: Everything in its place. Yet when the Iron Queen dies suddenly, Lysande is thrown into the position of Councillor, the one who must decide who the next ruler of Elira will be from the city-rulers of the realm. Faced with learning about this group should not be difficult; however, Lysande is also trying to investigate her beloved friend’s death, which she thinks was the result of magic. Dealing with her addiction to chimera scale only adds to the struggles Lysande faces, as it is revealed that the magical White Queen is gathering power against Elira, including a traitor hidden within the group. Only when the truths are revealed will Lysande find a way to face her questions and own thoughts of power. Beaton’s worldbuilding, character evolutions, and morally gray decisions make this story incredibly nuanced and smart.
VERDICT A skilled debut of politics, secrets, and magic that will grab readers from the start.

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