Book Review – The Councillor by E.J. Beaton

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Content Warnings >>>

drug use and addiction, graphic violence, mention of torture, death of a loved one, war

Note : This mini-review is brought to you by the fact that schools opened again today even though the situation hasn’t changed one bit, that I’m *still* not vaccinated, and very tired 🙂🙂🙂

I’m so torn, really, because The Councillor did some things really well, but let me down on important aspects that I cannot ignore, I fear. But let’s see what I liked and what bothered me, shall we?

What I liked…

  • indubitably, the writing, that made for a compelling read ; other readers did complain about the pacing, but I ate it up, so.
  • the queer rep: the mc is bisexual, and there’s side f/f and m/m relationships
  • Lysande, our perfectly imperfect main character who actually enjoys power (and sex)! YES!
  • I can’t believe I’m so basic but I’ll say Luca Fontaine, our snake prince (I know I know) (also that’s a lie, I really am basic) – Seriously though : I thoroughly enjoyed his interactions with Lysande, and even though he’s a bit cliché at first glance, contrary to most books we really do not know if they’ll end kissing or killing each other (or both)
  • YOU CAN TRUST NO ONE!!!! Yesssss
  • positive friendships between women
  • light dom/sub vibes I definitely want more of in the sequel, thank you
  • I can see how the chosen one trope could be a downer for other readers but I won’t lie, I enjoyed every part of it
  • except for the big reveal (I’ll come back to that), the plot managed to surprise me (in a good way) a few times

What I didn’t like, however…

  • I’m not quite convinced by the way the author mentioned black and brown people being present in general *once*, and then let it at that (or it was so quick, I missed it) : if we’ve got time to describe jewels and clothing in such detail, we’ve got time to write on-page, precise representation, no? (before the “I don’t see color” crowd derails the conversation : at some point you have to acknowledge that letting the reader fill in the blanks is no representation, not in our world where white is too often seen as the default) ; it’s not realistic at all (and also, boring)
  • It’s all very cis, and that’s a shame, especially in a queernorm world
  • the world-building is very generic, in that “let’s bunch a few European countries together” kind of way I’ve come to dislike ; the languages are all over the place (mainly italian, french, latin) and yes, I did giggle at “castle sapere” and “fontaine” because, seriously now.
  • the big reveal was a let-down and made me re-evaluate Lysande’s cleverness because really Lysande, REALLY? I can’t believe you didn’t see it coming (I still like you though) 
  • I said I liked Luca and his dynamics with Lysande but, hmm. She does think about his throat a lot. A lot. Too many repetitions in my opinion.

Bottom Line

Overall, a solid debut and I will read the sequel but after loving the beginning so much, I’m still disappointed.

About The Councillor

Author : E.J. Beaton | Publisher : DAW | Genre : Adult Fantasy | Pages : 442

This Machiavellian fantasy follows a scholar’s quest to choose the next ruler of her kingdom 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.

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