Read a full summary of The Queen’s Rising, the first book in the The Queen’s Rising series. This page is full of spoilers, so beware! If you need a refresher on what happened in The Queen’s Rising, then you are in the right place!
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in The Queen’s Rising?
Brienna is the illegitimate daughter of a Valenian woman (now deceased) and a Maevan father (whose identity she doesn’t know). She’s been raised by her grandfather, and he takes her to Magnalia House to train in one of the five passions. She hasn’t shown a proclivity for any of the passions, but something her grandfather whispers about her identity to the headmistress (the Dowager) gains her admittance.
Brienna spends several of her seven years searching for her strongest passion. She finally lands on the passion of knowledge. It’s her best skill set. Even though the practice of dual students is unheard of, Brienna studies with Ciri under one master, Cartier.
Brienna becomes great friends with all five of the other girls studying at Magnalia House, especially her roommate Merei. Brienna feels most competitive with Ciri since she’s the other knowledge student. Cartier always seems to favor Brienna, which frustrates Ciri.
At the end of their seven years of study, several patrons from each of the five passions come to interview the girls to possibly become their patron (ie, take them on as an apprentice of sorts). All of the girls besides Brienna win a patron, receive their cloak from their master, and leave to pursue their new career.
Brienna is excited for her friends but is sad to see the girls she’s come to love as sisters leave Magnalia. Cartier stays behind for a short time, and the attraction between the two of them is obvious. But they stick to the strict rules about master/student relationships and don’t indulge their desires.
But Cartier soon leaves for his extended vacation as planned. Brienna will stay behind to study hard all summer in hopes of gaining a patron. Cartier promises he’ll come back to give Brienna her cloak and help her choose a patron when she’s ready.
They write each other often, at first for Cartier to answer questions Brienna has as she studies. But the letters turn personal, and they both learn a great deal about the other.
Brienna has slipped into three visions of her ancestors from the past (also called ancestral memories). The first one was of a young man convincing Norah Kavanagh to try to take the Stone of Eventide from around her mother’s neck because her magic (sourced from the Stone) is too strong. He said would hide it for her.
The second vision was of the same boy at a summit. She felt a weight about his neck, just over his heart. He was searching for a place to hide the stone.
The third vision was of the young man burying the Stone encased in a wooden locket at the base of a tree in a forest. She sees the initials TA carved in the bark of the tree. Brienna goes to the Dowager and tells her of the visions and the initials.
The Dowager tells Brienna that her father was indeed an Allenach, the same as TA’s (her ancestor’s) initials. The Allenachs were an important Maevan family. But the Dowager won’t reveal his first name because she promised Brienna’s grandfather she never would. Then she tells Brienna she has an old friend to whom she could write who could be a good patron for Brienna and could keep her safe.
Aldéric Jourdain arrives to take Brienna to his home to serve as her patron and father. He’s a widower who lives with his grown son Luc, a passion of music. Jourdain specializes in knowledge just like Brienna and is a lawyer.
Upon their first meeting, Jourdain tells Brienna they want the same thing: They want the evil Maevan ruler King Lannon removed and want to see a queen ascend. They each have secrets they intend to keep from the other, especially their true identities. But the pairing should work because they both trust the Dowager, and she knows both of their secrets.
Brienna agrees to go with Jourdain, telling no one, not even her grandfather or Cartier. Jourdain has developed a false backstory for her, and she will live under the new name of Amadine Jourdain so no one can track her down. They’re attacked when they near Luc’s home, and Brienna is surprised by how Jourdain fights. It’s much more like a Maevan than a Valenian.
Jourdain’s whole household proves trustworthy, both his son and their servants. So they know of Brienna’s real past, including her visions. They even know she‘s an Allenach.
Luc and Brienna work together to try to draw another ancestral memory out of her. One day, an old ragged man greets her as they’re searching the river for a rock the same size as the Stone to try to coax a vision out of her. The ragged man says he knew her father 25 years ago.
Paired with the knowledge of his fighting skills and what the man at the river said, Brienna believes she’s figured out Jourdain’s biggest secret. She believes he’s one of the three men (Morgane, Kavanagh, or MacQuinn) who tried to defeat King Lannon 25 years ago and restore the rightful Kavanagh queen to the throne.
Brienna and many others believe the Maevan ruler must be one of the Kavanaghs because they are descendants of dragons who still hold magic in their blood. And it must be a queen because the Kavanagh women’s magic is stronger than the men’s. The Stone of Eventide can restore magic to the land, which must be done before the Kavanaghs are powerful enough to retake the throne.
When she confronts Jourdain about it, he doesn’t deny it. He tells her he’s MacQuinn and that their visitors are not Yseult Laurent and her father, but rather Queen Isolde Kavanagh and her father. Brienna also asks how Jourdain knows the Dowager. He says she sheltered him and his two compatriots years ago when they fled Maevana. They were on their last leg when they knocked on the door of Magnalia, and she took them in.
While Isolde and Luc are training Brienna in swordplay so she can become a good fighter like the Maevan women, she slips into another ancestral memory. It’s about when TA’s/Tristan’s mean older brother Oran was training him. Tristan runs away and scales a tree to get away from him. He’s about to be coaxed down with the promise of sweets when Isolde and Luc wake Brienna. She tells them she now knows the Stone’s exact location because she got a bird’s eye view of it in the vision. The tree Tristan scales is one he was familiar with because he’d buried the Stone there.
They’re waiting on the third and final rebel, Theo d’Aramitz (aka Aodhan Morgane), to arrive, but he’s delayed by two weeks. They have to start planning without him. The plan is mostly Brienna’s. They’re going to crash King Lannon’s fall hunting outing. While she distracts him by asking for a pardon for her patron father, Isolde and her family will sneak into the territory. Brienna will have to be the one to sneak off and find the Stone since she saw the exact location in her vision.
They plan and scheme as a group. Jourdain and Brienna also plan and scheme on their own for just a bit before she leaves. Jourdain tells Brienna to never reveal to Lannon that her birth father is an Allenach unless she’s in a precarious situation and her life depends on it. He also says she needs to leave with Morgane on the third night after Jourdain’s arrival, which is when they are converging at Mistwood, the same place they fought 25 years ago, to storm the throne. Jourdain hopes Lannon will abdicate when he sees the people gathered.
Brienna leaves her home and travels to the capitol. She sees King Lannon’s brutality as she enters his city. The decapitated heads of traitors are everywhere. And she witnesses his wrath in person after gaining entrance into the court to be introduced to him. He almost beheads a lowly citizen for a small infraction until a noble steps up to speak on his behalf.
Brienna gives her father’s fake last name of Jourdain to gain entrance but then gives his real last name of MacQuinn when she approaches the king. The entire throne room goes silent when she drops the name. Brienna then explains that he’s ready to pay his penance and be restored to the king’s service. She says after 25 years he’s stripped of his pride and recognizes his mistake and treachery. He has sent her to ask for the king’s pardon.
The king says he’ll allow it and then dictates a ridiculous letter that Brienna records to send to Jourdain inviting him back to the kingdom. The king seems interested in Brienna and wants to keep her at the palace, but the influential Brendan Allenach (the king’s right-hand man) convinces the king to let her go home with him instead.
As they journey to his home, Allenach explains he thought she’d be more comfortable in his home because of all of the visiting Valenians assembled for the annual hunt. Brienna dresses carefully for the large, formal dinner that evening, adding the silver rose that is supposed to be a sign to Morgane (Jourdain and Kavanagh’s other friend).
When she arrives at the meal, Brienna searches the crowd for the insignia Jourdain told her to look for to meet Morgane. She’s shocked to see who is wearing it: Cartier. He’s way too young to have fought with Jourdain and Kavanagh 25 years ago, so he must be Morgane’s son. He’s just as shocked to see Brienna there. They sneak to the side for just a second to have a brief discussion in which Brienna promises to visit Cartier’s room that night so they can talk more in depth. They break away from each other before it seems suspicious.
Allenach wants her to sit with him and his sons, Sean and Rian, at dinner. The younger Sean is friendly and seems to like her. The older Rian is quieter and seems suspicious of her.
Brienna’s eyes keep drifting to Cartier throughout the meal. At one point, he seems to be signaling something to her. When she hears music, she realizes what it is. She’d know that musician’s sound anywhere. It’s Merei, her passion sister from Magnalia. Merei seems to understand enough to act like they don’t know each other.
Guards are placed outside Brienna’s room, so she can’t walk the halls to find Cartier’s room. She remembers in one of her ancestral memories that Tristan mentioned passageways and secret nooks and crannies in his house. She searches her room and finds a secret door behind a tapestry. She wanders the hidden hallway until she finds a door with the symbol Cartier had described to her. She emerges from behind a tapestry in his room.
Brienna and Cartier tell each other the short versions of what has happened to each of them in their time apart. She learns he was almost ready to leave Magnalia years ago to join Jourdain when Brienna decided to try knowledge as a passion. She was the challenge he needed, so he stayed. He planned to join the fight after she passioned. Brienna promises to visit again the following night.
Brienna bumps into Merei in the courtyard the next morning, so the two can now act like new acquaintances with a budding friendship. She asks King Lannon if one of his sons can give her a tour of the property. He agrees, and Brienna is relieved to see that Sean emerges first. Rian follows soon after and wants to be the one to give the tour, but they stick with Sean.
While Sean’s getting the horses from the stable, Brienna quietly asks Merei to act like her horse is spooked and run as far as she can in the other direction when Brienna gives her the signal. Hopefully this will draw Sean away and give Brienna time to search for the tree and the Stone.
It works just as Brienna hopes. She finds the tree fairly easily, feeling like it’s almost calling to her. She pulls out the spade hidden in her dress and begins to dig to find the Stone. As Brienna digs, she begins to slip into another vision. She bites her lip, tasting blood in her mouth, trying to keep herself in the present so she can dig.
She finally finds the locket. The Stone inside looks just as she remembers from the ancestral memories. A blue light illuminates the stone when it senses her. She replaces the dirt when she hears a voice nearby. It’s Sean. She explains that her horse was spooked by Merei’s. She acts like she’s shaken, so they head back to the house.
Merei sends a note to Brienna asking if they can meet up soon. Brienna knows she wants (and deserves) an explanation. At that moment, an ancestral memory overcomes her. It’s of when Norah came to visit Tristan so they could plot about how to steal the stone. But before the plan can manifest, Rian comes to Brienna’s room and interrupts the vision. Apparently she’d wandered through the castle in her vision, and this is when Rian saw her.
Rian says his father has been all out of sorts since she arrived. He wants to know the real reason she’s there. She says it’s exactly because of her stated purpose: for her father MacQuinn. Rian pulls out a knife and says they’re going to play a game. They can ask each other questions, and if one of them lies, then they can cut the other. They get three questions each.
Rian first asks where her cloak is if she’s supposed to be a passion. He doesn’t cut her based on her answer. He then asks if and how she knew Merei before she arrived. Brienna claims their connection isn’t from the past but is from a sisterhood among passioned people. He shoves the blade into her side and then leaves.
Brienna is weak but knows she needs to make it to Cartier. She follows the inner passageway and barely makes it to his room. He needs to stitch her up, so he begins relieving her of her dress and corset. She tells him she has the Stone. He is more concerned about making sure she’s okay, so he lays it on his desk without another glance. He gives her something for the pain. He wants to know who did this to her.
The two of them talk some more, and Brienna finds out he didn’t make it to Jourdain’s house in time to help them plan because he was searching for her. He had returned to Magnalia only to discover she’d left. So he went to her grandfather and then searched the closest city, assuming that’s where she’d gone. Then Brienna tells him her entire side of the story from their time apart.
Cartier tells her Jourdain should stand before the king tomorrow. And she must ride with him to Mistwood in three nights’ time. Besides being the site of the fateful battle, it’s also where the Kavanagh queens used to be crowned. So others who want to join the fight will know to meet them on these sacred grounds. It’s late, so Cartier takes Brienna back to her bedroom through the secret passageway.
Allenach is gone the next morning, off to observe the king’s questioning of Jourdain. Rian tries to goad Brienna at breakfast, but she doesn’t take the bait. Brienna can tell Cartier knows who her attacker was after carefully watching this exchange.
When Allenach returns, he tells Brienna her father almost lost his head right there in the throne room. But Allenach saved him by saying it would probably be best to give him a full trial before his execution. He tells her Jourdain and his son have been taken to a house on his property not far away, and he’d be happy to take her there.
The glee of the reunion is soon shaken when a letter from Allenach arrives. The letter proclaims that Brienna is his daughter. Jourdain is furious at first because he thinks Brienna already knew. He calms down when he learns she had no clue. She decides to accept Allenach’s invitation back home and act as if she’s ready to be welcomed into the family.
Allenach tells Brienna the story of his romance with her mother and even shows her a letter her mother sent him after she was back home in Valenia. It has a lock of Brienna’s hair and says she’s her father’s namesake. He says he knew it was her the second she walked into the king’s court because she looks so much like her mother.
Brienna convinces him that she’s on his side now. He even shows her where the Allenach family has kept the Queen’s Canon hidden for generations. It’s a stone tablet with the very first Kavanagh queen’s rules carved into it. It declares that any Maevan woman can be queen, not just a Kavanagh. Just after Allenach shows her, a servant comes in to tell him a nearby field is on fire and they can’t seem to put it out. He rushes to help, locking Brienna in the room.
Using an ax from the weapon’s stash just off of Allenach’s bedroom, Brienna breaks a window and escapes. Rian sees her running from the house and rides over to swing his blade at her. It hits the Canon on her back, throwing him from his horse. The family dog, who has been strangely fond of Brienna since she arrived, attacks Rian, killing him and saving Brienna.
She meets Cartier at their designated place (the barn) with the Queen’s Canon in tow in a pack on her back. Merei is there, too. She’s been part of Cartier’s plan all along. The three of them—along with the dog—ride away toward Mistwood.
On the way, they stop at Evan Berne’s house. He’s a printer and a friend of MacQuinns. They ask him to print copies of the Canon and hang them all over town the next day. He agrees to.
When they finally make it to the camp at Mistwood, Brienna hears Jourdain, Isolde, and the others talking before they see her. They’re not sure whether she’ll come. They decide to proceed with battle even if she doesn’t show up with the Stone. Then Brienna walks into the clearing and shows herself.
They dress and arm her for battle. She shows them the Canon and says she has the Stone. Isolde wants Brienna to keep it for now. She doesn’t want it yet as she needs to learn how to control her magic before she attempts to use it in battle.
Isolde, Brienna, and Cartier approach King Lannon from across the battlefield, giving him one chance to yield. He refuses and gives them 15 seconds to get back to their troops before he attacks. An arrow hits Brienna in the arm just before she fades into the ranks.
As she falls from her horse, she slides into an ancestral memory of Tristan and Norah in a battle. She learns Tristan killed the queen with an arrow through the eye before her power got too strong. Norah was furious. Even though Tristan loved her, he told her to leave immediately if she wanted to live in peace. He took the Stone to hide it because he didn’t trust anyone with it.
Cartier’s voice pulls Brienna from the vision. He’s already patched up her arm. She tells Cartier to leave her. She’s fine, and she knows the rebels need him to fight. Allenach soon approaches her. She knows he’s coming to kill her.
Merei shoots an arrow and hits him in the leg. Then Sean approaches to try to save the girls. Allenach can’t believe another of his children has betrayed him. He lunges at Brienna again, and this time Jourdain comes to her rescue. The two men duel, and Jourdain kills Allenach. He feels horrible that he killed Brienna’s father, but she says he’s her father.
How did The Queen’s Rising end?
King Lannon flees to the palace to hole up in the royal hall. Isolde leads the troops there. He is sitting on his throne, and Isolde has her father take the crown from his head. She slaps him multiple times for all the infractions he’s committed against her and her friends. Then she has him bound and taken to the keep for two weeks until he’ll be tried before the people.
Brienna then comes forward in front of everyone assembled and places the Stone of Eventide around Isolde’s neck. She uses the stone and her newfound magic to heal those wounded in the battle, even those who fought for Maevan, especially Sean. Brienna was afraid Sean had died and is so glad to see him healed.
Brienna goes home to the MacQuinn manner with Jourdain and Luc. It’s almost like they’ve never left. It’s been kept up well, and the staff is all there. Luc teases her that she probably won’t live there long. And then Jourdain tells her to go to the Morgane place to see Cartier and invite him for dinner.
The Morgane place has not been kept up like the MacQuinn one. In fact, it’s fallen into ruin and disrepair. But Brienna thinks there’s a certain beauty to its look. Cartier says the staff will soon be back to help him restore it, but he wanted to approach it by himself first.
Cartier gives Brienna her cloak. The constellation on it Aviana. It’s one that’s a compliment to his Verene constellation.
Brienna tells him of her plan to open a House of Knowledge someday. They talk of their plans to do so at the Morgane manner.
Cartier and Brienna kiss for a long while before they decide it’s time to mount their horses and head for dinner with Jourdain and Luc.
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