I loved The Queen of Ieflaria. I devoured it, staying awake way past midnight to finish reading it. This book has so many wonderful things: strong female protagonist, dragons, a unicorn, battles, palace intrigue, and a romance between the two main characters who are pansexual.
Princess Esofi of Rhodia has been betrothed to the heir of Ieflaria since she was three years old. Her education has been focused on being the best queen possible to what will be her new homeland. Over the years she has gotten to know her future husband, Crown Prince Albion, through letters. After she begins the months long journey to her new home and marriage, she receives the news that the Crown Prince has died in an accident.
Esofi arrives in Ieflaria and is faced with a choice: marry the new heir, marry another in the line of succession or go back home. Esofi chooses to marry the new heir, Crown Princess Adale. Adale never expected to rule. She has not been educated to rule but she does know how to drink, hunt and start a really good bar fight. Yet she is such a wonderful match for Esofi.
From the first introduction to Adale, I fell hard for her. I wanted her to marry Esofi and not let one of her cousins take her place. Adale was strong, vulnerable, prickly and caring. She is such a wonderful character. Esofi carries a touch of superiority because of her education. She needs to learn about her new home from the bottom up. Meanwhile others at court plot to remove Adale from the crown and marry Esofi to someone else.
This world that Effie Calvin created is so unique. Gender is not a barrier to anything, whether it be a crown or a marriage. Under the right conditions and with a little magic help, individuals can transform to the opposite sex long enough to insure a child is conceived. This world also has dragons. Big, fire breathing dragons who do more than just eat sheep. The descriptions of everything from the architecture to the clothing is amazing. The reader learns so much about the world by the author's wonderful flowing descriptions.
I absolutely loved The Queen of Ieflaria and am eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series. This book does have a logical ending so readers are not left hanging but instead are left wanting more. ARC courtesy Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.