Author Nicola Tyche introduces an engaging protagonist and expansive narrative universe in her epic fantasy North Queen.
Tyche’s first installment of a promised series opens with Norah Andell awakening in a mysterious setting with no memories of her life to that point. After then being rescued in the wilds of the Shadowlands by Alexander Rhemus, lord justice to the queen regent, she soon learns of her illustrious pedigree – heir to the throne of the northern kingdom of Mercia – and her intense fate.
Daughter of the late King Aamon and granddaughter of Catherine, the queen regent of Mercia, Norah has been prophesied to play a key part in winning the Great War that’s torn apart Mercia and its neighboring kingdoms, particularly by defeating the Shadow King (“true evil incarnate”) and “purging evil from this world.” Because of this prophecy, forces of evil have long been intent on destroying Norah, and three years before the story opens, her father had hidden her away.
What follows is a journey of discovery cleverly constructed by Tyche, an epic tale displaying the best kind of fantasy, one dense with mysticism, magic, epic battles and mythology. The author relies on her main character’s amnesia to ease her audience into a faraway world and a complex backstory.
As Norah slowly resolves the mysteries of her life, reclaiming her memories and discovering her role as the soon-to-be crowned queen of Mercia, her previous romantic ties to Alexander resurface even as her pending arranged marriage to cement an alliance looms and the Shadow King moves to manipulate Norah to his evil goals.
Tyche generally juggles all these elements well. Part mystery, part romance, part fantasy, North Queen takes its time finding its pace. While the beginning is heavy with exposition, the author ultimately lands on the rhythm of a compelling and relatable story that will entertain fantasy fans as well as admirers of any well-crafted, clever mystery.