Unnamed Memory: The Queen Without a Throne is long at just over 300 pages. Okay, sure, it may not be the thickest light novel volume out there. But the curse is broken! Tinasha reunites with the person she’s been searching for! Betrayals, amnesia, an epic battle!
…And then you’re still only at the halfway point.
Granted, the second half of the book seems to move faster, but Unnamed Memory‘s second volume is more like volumes two and three. It was daunting at times, as I would read for long periods of time and still feel like I was not making much progress.
But enough about that.
Tinasha the witch continues to work on undoing Oscar’s curse, but he’d still much rather make her his bride than his benefactor. But soon, King Lanak of Cuscull, the new country of mages, arrives and takes a willing Tinasha with him. Oscar, both believing something is not right about Tinasha’s departure and wanting her by his side, tries to find the truth and deal with the building aggression between Cuscull and neighbor Taiyiri, who rejects magic users.
This arc is the most interesting one of the novel, as it includes much about Tinasha’s past. But unlike the singular goal of Tinasha’s return, The Queen Without a Throne‘s second half is a series of adventures and side quests. These episodes seem to vary from pure filler to post-arc cooldown to next arc set-up and from action to drama to romance.
It’s the latter that’s the most complicated part of Unnamed Memory. Love is generally complicated both in real-life and in fiction, but the lines between love, hate, and indifference are very thin here. Tinasha, for instance, still firmly rejects Oscar’s proposals, yet she often seems receptive to Oscar’s advances. It’s understandable why she would be hesitant about being with anyone — she is hundreds of years old and is of a powerful, feared race — but I wish the novel would do a better job of showing her wavering resolve. It’s either Tinasha making a snide “no way!” or natural physical affection; there’s no middle ground where she worries about his touch or wonders why Oscar is different from everyone else to her.
But while her understanding (or lack of) may be a little off, several other characters may better understand attraction and affection but completely swing between “I love you” and “I hate you”. Unnamed Memory opened as if it were the love story of a king and a witch — and it almost certainly will be — but romance does not seem to be this series’ strong suit. Everyone is either stubborn (Tinasha, Oscar) or has some twisted desires (almost everyone else). I kind of want to see a more normal romance or at least an established couple to prove a traditional love story does exist in this world.
Beyond that, there are two things the story loves to remind readers: Tinasha is beautiful, and Tinasha is powerful. There are a couple of incidents that prove she’s not infallible, but people are completely stunned by her magical ability. With this more Tinasha-focused volume, though, Oscar’s role is diminished. It isn’t until the second half where he does more than be the witch’s potential suitor, but both he and the witch squabble about the other taking on too much to try to solve the magical mysteries that pop up.
Again, there’s so much in The Queen Without a Throne that it’s almost impossible not to find a good amount of enjoyment here. The novel tends to include flashbacks featuring new characters and then slowly reveals the significance of them, a style I think works better in visual mediums, but I couldn’t help but get sucked into the world and learn more about this Age of Witches. The second half moves faster since the novel isn’t playing the “is Tinasha willingly or unwillingly with Lanak'” game, but it is also more prone to some lulls as you hope to see another battle. It’s hard to imagine Tinasha ever losing, but it’s still exciting to read about her and allies (including a few new ones) taking down mages and monsters.
As long as you aren’t looking toward Unnamed Memory as a shining example of true love (or need something you can finish quickly in time to write a book report), The Queen Without a Throne is still an excellent fantasy story.