Well paced and very interesting
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 December 2017
What a cracking little story. The Hundredth Queen is all about a young woman, Kali, who is claimed as a bride by the emperor, and then finds herself in a struggle for her life. It is a great little book with lots of twists and turns that are woven nicely together, and it is set in an interesting fantasy world. Written for its genre, it’s an almost guaranteed great read.
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.
12 people found this helpful