This Machiavellian fantasy follows a scholar's quest to choose the next ruler of her nation amidst lies, conspiracy, and assassination
When the death of Iron Queen Sarelin Brey fractures the realm of Elira, Lysande Prior, the palace scholar and the queen’s closest friend, is appointed Councillor. Publically, Lysande must choose the next monarch from amongst the city-rulers vying for the throne. Privately, she seeks to discover which ruler murdered the queen, suspecting the use of magic.
Resourceful, analytical, and quiet, Lysande appears to embody the motto she was raised with: everything in its place. Yet while she hides her drug addiction from her new associates, she cannot hide her growing interest in power. She becomes locked in a game of strategy with the city-rulers - especially the erudite prince Luca Fontaine, who seems to shift between ally and rival.
Further from home, an old enemy is stirring: the magic-wielding White Queen is on the move again, and her alliance with a traitor among the royal milieu poses a danger not just to the peace of the realm, but to the survival of everything that Lysande cares about.
In a world where the low-born keep their heads down, Lysande must learn to fight an enemy who wears many guises... even as she wages her own battle between ambition and restraint.
“Moira Quirk narrates an intricate fantasy with historical and political elements.… Quirk perfectly captures the nerves and fear Lysande experiences in her new position, as well as the deep grief she feels at the loss of her friend and companion, Queen Sarelin. This grief is tempered by Lysande's growing discomfort as she learns more about the former Queen's policies; Quirk deftly explores Lysande's dawning realization that one can love a person while still being critical of their actions.” (AudioFile Magazine)
"Beaton’s worldbuilding, character evolutions, and morally gray decisions make this story incredibly nuanced and smart. A skilled debut of politics, secrets, and magic that will grab readers from the start." (Library Journal, starred review)
“A sharp and insightful look at power and privilege in a magical world, and what happens when people who’ve historically had neither find themselves in possession of both.” (Anna Stephens, author of the Godblind trilogy)