The Hundredth Queen Paperback – 1 June 2017
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- Item Weight : 318 g
- Paperback : 300 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1503943658
- ISBN-13 : 978-1503943650
- Product Dimensions : 13.97 x 2.54 x 20.96 cm
- Publisher : Skyscape (1 June 2017)
- Language: : English
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The Hundredth Queen is about a young woman, Kali, who is claimed as the hundredth bride of the all-powerful Emperor. An honour you might say? Well, perhaps, but before she can marry him, she must defend her throne. To the death. The only problem: she was never great at duelling. But when darker undercurrents start to surface, her ineptitude with a sword is the least of her worries. Things are about to get a whole lot more complicated.
This is a really well plotted and a well-paced book. We are not left waiting for the action, and the tension builds steadily throughout. The plots tie together nicely at the end, and there are plenty of twists and turns: some I foresaw and some I didn’t. We also have a twisted ending which leaves the second book nicely poised. Kali could have left it be, but she wouldn’t be the Kali we know if she had. I’ll be interested to read on.
This is also a well-imagined world, with lots of nice touches. The bulk of it is based on a Middle-Eastern medieval monarchy (or indeed empire), and it never felt like it missed that brief. The magic of the world is well-defined – albeit untamed – and there is a well-considered structure to the gods – as there should be in all medieval fantasy! There was certainly enough to keep my interest piqued, and I get the very real feeling that more will be revealed later. All good signs.
And then there’s our heroine – Kalinder. She is perhaps a bit pale, but she certainly grows through the book and we are rooting for her. What’s more, this is a nice example where she is an underdog, and she remains as such right until the end. Sort of. She certainly uses her resourcefulness and her courage to turn the day, and that is great. Who doesn’t love a good underdog?
Anyway, in other matters, this book is written in first person. Personally, I’m not a massive fan of first person. This book is also written in present tense, and I’m also not a fan of present tense, so not great for me! As a consequence, in places it was hard to distinguish between dialogue and internal dialogue, especially when there wasn’t a paragraph break. Just something to watch out for. In reality, this is a personal taste thing, and there are lots of books in this genre written with this convention, so it won’t put most people off. But this is my review, and I have my preferences!
And perhaps linked to the above, there was quite a lot of Kali’s internal dialogue – stream of consciousness type stuff. Certainly not overwhelming, but perhaps a bit heavy in places. Again, this is most likely a taste thing, but something to watch out for.
In terms of content, there wasn’t really much to dislike. The subject matter is tastefully handled, and the characters are good reflections of the underlying premise. Perhaps the idea of warrior brides is a little too much, but even here it is tempered nicely, especially through Kali. And further than this, there were likeable characters and unlikeable characters, and mostly they fit into that side of the story, which is a comfortable place to be. There may be only one real character curve-ball, but I don’t think the story is lacking as a consequence.
So, there we have it. A fast-paced and action-packed adventure with a heroine who has a mighty battle to wager and only a handful of tools. This is the start of a series, and the wider premise is nicely set. Let’s continue.
I absolutely adored the way that King implemented Sumerian culture and mythology into the novel, and how it became the groundwork for pushing the narrative forward. I felt like I learnt a lot about their culture through the stories told to help flesh out the importance of Kalinda being the one-hundredth wife whilst also still understanding that this was a work of fantasy where some elements could be twisted. It was a brilliant blend of culture, society, class, gender, and magic as Kalinda is brought into this world entirely new for her, and for us.
The magic within this novel is almost akin to that of Ruby in Fireblood through the Burners. I only lightly put this similarity forward as I still felt like the Bhutas and their ability to wield the elements was a concept that I found original and unique to this story and really helped to bring the narrative to life by presenting Kalinda with her own personal conflict, as well as that of the rani’s and courtesans around her. Though I feel that there is a lot we could still learn about the group called Bhutas, I believe that this is something King will, and should, develop further in the next novel within the series given the events that have taken place.
Kalinda is a strong feminine lead for this fantasy novel, paving the way – alongside other woman in fantasy – for heroines and strong female leads. I would put her up there with Kelsea from the Tearling series, as well as Ruby from Fireblood (being the two more prominent characters that currently come to mind). In the beginning she appears weak, fragile, and the underdog within the Sisterhood and the many wives of the king. She has suffered from an illness that leaves her with burning fevers that can only be staved off by a special tonic brewed by the temples healer. However, as the novel progresses and Kalinda begins to realise the path that her God has put her on, and the changes within herself, Kalinda starts to show her true strength and her determination to right the wrongs that have festered over her country.
Though the love interest was definitely one of insta-love, I still found myself shipping Kalinda and Deven from the get go. It was clear that there as an attraction to the two and it really came alive upon the page. King really knows how to write characters that are fleshed out to a degree that they appear real and truly bring the narrative to life by how vividly they have been depicted.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and was one that I couldn’t put down. I enjoyed the thematic concerns surrounding sisterhood and women being second-rate to men and felt that this was definitely one of those stories that needed to be told in order to understand the culture and society within this world. I felt that these issues helped to bolster Kalinda as a character and to make her stronger, portraying her as a modern-day woman in a fantasy world set in the past.
When a special benefactor comes and demands the girls all demonstrate their fighting skills Kali's sense of right and loyalty make her stand out and she is claimed. Leaving everything she knows behind her to become The Hundredth Queen to the Rajah ... a position that she is required to fight to keep.
Kali is a believable character, whose unexpected skills are revealed under the following challenges she faces. She experiences feelings and wants she never thought possible, along with utter sadness and loss.
My only negative comments are that I felt she fell too quickly in love and I didn't really mind when this was supposed to have ended (trying not to put too many spoilers in here) and the second is I have to wait until September for the sequel. I hope it's as good as this.