Book Review: Destiny Arising by Jan Foster

I have a fondness for all subgenres of fantasy, but historical fantasy is, I think, quite intriguing. The ability to weave precise details of history with the breathtaking wonder of magic is a special skill. There are, of course, many ways a person can write an alternate history, but to follow along with history? To write magic into the past? Marvellous.

Destiny Arising is the third book in Jan Foster’s Naturae series. (Somehow I missed the second book?! I’m still not sure how, but it wasn’t strictly necessary for this book. Though I will go back and read it!) It follows Aioffe, Joshua, Nemis, Spenser and the two children Mark and Hope as they return to England and flee the European fae and Henry, the vampire who currently sits on the Naturae throne. Nemis is plagued with visions of queens dying, and when they start to come true, Aioffe and Joshua must stop it before it’s too late for England and Naturae both.

Now, I will be the first to admit I do not know all the precise details of the late Tudor/early Elizabethan England, especially regarding the various lines of succession and who controlled what/where, or even the various alliances. My knowledge is limited to the basic Protestant vs Catholic and general information on who ruled at the time. That is to say, I know enough to get by when talking about the period, but little more. This book, though, was a perfect immersion into the time. It described both daily life and the larger political schema with perfect detail; there wasn’t enough to be overwhelming, but nor was there too little as to leave the reader behind. This is a consistent pattern with Jan Foster’s books. The history is always impeccable.

I also loved the interplay of the vampire Henry’s difficulties on Naturae. He came across initially as a sinister figure, but as the book went on, he became more sympathetic and complex, which I enjoyed quite a bit. By the end, I was almost feeling like he needed to stay on Naturae, given how little Aioffe wanted to regain her title. Also, I think Iliana deserved precisely what she got. 

I will say that the twist regarding Iliana and her, ah, machinations, was a bit unexpected. It makes sense in hindsight, but there wasn’t really a great deal of evidence to point in that direction. Granted, this book is not a murder mystery, but a fantasy with a quest and a goal, so this is probably just my fondness for the mystery genre overpowering my expectations.

Overall, I will say that Destiny Arising is an excellent continuation of the series and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The pacing was superb, the detail exquisite, the characters complex and real (even those with wings), and I enjoyed every part of the book. I would highly recommend this series to any and all who care to dive into the world of history tinged with the wonder of magic.