Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Genre: Fantasy / YA
Rating: 2 stars
***Possible Spoilers Ahead***
The premise for Nameless Queen was wonderfully intriguing. But, unfortunately, this novel suffers from the impossible-to-ignore plight of the Mary Sue lead. Coin is amusing, resourceful, intelligent—and has an ability to master things that she has had no experience with before so fast and so well, that is quite difficult to believe. So difficult, in fact, that once you notice it, you can't help but notice all the things that happen around her that are conveniently too...well, convenient.
There is Coin, minding her own business, getting ready to perform a new con as the Nameless that she is, and bam—she receives the crown tattoo that signals her as Seriden's next ruler, and all of a sudden magical abilities that she has never even come across before are as easy for her to access and manipulate as breathing.
There's no struggle, no work is done to attain the end of a complex situation, and answers seem to come so simple to these characters. Characters, which sometimes are used as props, thrown into a scene for the purpose of spouting a few lines or doing a few actions that will help drive the plot along, until they are shooed along and tucked away again.
I won't say, however, that all of it was bad. There were things, like Hat, for example, that made this story worthwhile. Despite my mistrust of realism in allowing a child to perform any sort of medical care on a critical patient because she just so happens to be in a medical ward alongside an experience doctor, she's a darling of a character. She's loving, warm, sweet, funny, and she endears the reader to many of the moments that she is around Coin. She's one of the reasons that Coin is appealing—she makes her seem more human and more caring, even as she resists that bond with the little girl.
Belrosa's twist to use a Nameless army was a great addition, although, once again, it was not used to its full potential. Aside from them chasing Coin down after she escapes their training ground, they don't do much. I would have loved to see more glimpses of them, direct ones, not just the behind-the-scene peeks of their burning down houses or dragging away Nameless and making them disappear around the city.
And in a book where building relationships are less than realistic in their swiftness, Esther and Coin's was a breath of fresh air. Yes, it should happen just as it does, that the young women do not like each other. Yes, Esther should be suspicious and snappy at Coin considering their backgrounds. Yes, they should resist whatever warmth they feel for each other at the beginning, even once it's revealed that they're sisters. That was excellent, that was real, that was progress.
The end was a two-way street. I thought it ingenious that Coin locks Belrosa into her own mind, essentially, as a way to beat her. But the duels come and go in the blink of an eye. Once more, we have an opportunity for something to go through a process so that it grows and builds, but it gets cut short. And while part of me went a little nuts having Coin's name dangled before me then snatched up again, I can't help but enjoy that we still don't know who she was born to be. She may be the type of character that knows all and can do all, but having her be the person her experiences have shaped her out to be, rather than whoever she was christened as, portrays her as a more likable being.
Not only that, but not showing a romance arc for the lead was fortifying. In a genre where romance—especially love triangles—are so well used for the plot, the fact that the author did not lean on this other than a few very coy and subtle hints that never panned out to be anything else, was commendable.
Regardless of whatever faults were found, due to how the novel ends, I can't help but want to know what is to come. If nothing else, the open-ended story leaves you with enough questions that you continue to seek answers for them. Smart.