The Queen of Wind and Sunlight is Morgan Cole's latest fantasy novel which draws upon the strengths of diverse characterisation and inclusive storytelling previously established in his The Chrysathamere Triology.
Firstly, Cole's protagonists are not heteronormative and, as a bisexual woman, Isonder's relationships in particular were wonderfully validating. Secondly, within the pages of this novel Cole also poignantly explores race and a refugee crisis. Justice is given to both with the excellent characterisation of Isonder and Valery. Their experiences diverge in faith and belief before converging dramatically in a haze of Nostalgia, poison and fire. Both begin this story looking for solutions and escape in others but the obstacles, men and queens they must face together, lead them back to themselves; reflections neither were willing to face the moment tragedy struck.
The pacing of Parts 1 and 4 is well done - Cole's exposition and resolution ensures the heroic yet achingly human story of The Queen of Wind and Sunlight remains with you long after finishing. The middle of the narrative, however, did lose impetus as Cole began to draw Isonder's and Valery's narratives together. While Valery's perspective was propelled with emotion, Isonder's felt heavy with superfluous description - a mire of similes at times. The writing was far more fluid during dialogue and action sequences - the gritty moments within which the superb characterisation could shine. Especially as Cole often steers clear of tropes; even the somewhat cliché antihero narrative of Vraka Annuban is well executed (I mean, he's my favourite character now...).
To be honest, I would recommend Cole's work on characterisation alone. It is always a joy to meet, love and hate (Jhengar...) Cole's characters!
Thus, Morgan Cole has once again gifted readers with a fantasy novel demonstrating his talent for exploratory narratives, the conventions of a good quest of heroism and change, and incredibly refreshing characterisation.