This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

10 April, 2014

REVIEW: LONG LIVE THE QUEEN

Cover image by Steward Noack/Don Sipley
Cover design by Lauren Panepinto

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN
BOOK THREE OF THE IMMORTAL EMPIRE
BY
KATE LOCKE

ISBN: 978-1-405-51197-1
Pages: 306 (+Glossary)
Publisher: Orbit
Published: 12 November 2013

On the cover:
(From the publisher's website.)

Xandra Vardan thought life would be simpler when she accepted the goblin crown and became their queen, but life has only become more complicated. The vampires, werewolves and humans all want the goblins on their side, because whoever has the goblins - wins.

With human zealots intent on ridding the world of anyone with plagued blood and supernatural politics taking Britain to the verge of civil war, Xandra's finding out that being queen isn't all it's cracked up to be, and if she doesn't do something fast, hers will be the shortest reign in history.


   This is the third book in this series, and I would advise those who thinks it looks interesting to start with the first book. These books will work much better if they are read in order. That being said, it is by no means impossible to grab this without reading the previous two volumes, I would just not recommend it if you don't want to miss out.

   There is a real fast pace to the plot of this novel, Locke doesn't give you many chances to catch your breath as the story moves rapidly forward. The writing style makes the pages fly by, but the main thing that makes this book a quick read is a story that has the pacing of an Action Thriller. There really is a lot happening here, and it pays for the reader to pay attention. Some of the chapters are brimming with information, and at times the novel feels like it is underwritten considering how much is happening. While there is more than enough action here to fill a novel this size, it never overshadows the plot itself, or the worldbuilding for that matter.

   When it comes to the story, that is really full of surprising turns. There is a lot of suspense throughout the novel, and that is one of the things that drives the reader onward. We get some revelations that come right out of the blue, but they are not cheats. Everything is present in the background, and even though it has been hidden from the reader earlier it is fits in perfectly with the world this is set in.
   I never got the feeling that the author was doing anything else than telling the story. With pacing, action, and suspense like this you can get a story that relies too much on "coincidences", Locke manages to avoid that very nicely. It feels like this is a world that has been mapped out so well that there is no need for authorial "cheating".

   I think that is what impresses me most about this book, and the two previous ones, -the worldbuilding. This is very much a Steampunk world, of the kind that mixes in a lot from Urban Fantasy, but at its base is an excellently realised Alternate History of the British Empire.
   Having read quite a bit of Alternate History, it is important to me that the changes from the history we know feel organic -that it feels like this is something that could actually have happened. And while it may seem strange to say that so is the case here, I feel it is. Once you get accept the initial premise that allow for vampires, werewolves, and goblins, this is actually a plausible history of an alternate version of our world. I think the worldbuilding is really that good.

   So, great story and excellent worldbuilding, that leaves only the characters. I can't find any faults with them either. Xandra Vardan is one of the great female main characters in Steampunk. She is very well realised, and although she can kick several kinds of ass, she comes across as very realistic. Throughout the trilogy she has had a very good progression, and I feel I have been witnessing her come into her own. As this book ends we see a more grown up Xandra, one that has been through quite a journey.
   There are plenty of other characters here that add to the world Xandra inhabits. The supporting cast is excellent as well. They do not feel like they are put there to serve the plot, but like they are an integral part of the world they live in. Locke deftly manages to avoid stereotyping, with the possible exception of the somewhat clich├ęd "werewolf boyfriend". But even he is likable, and he is a great addition to the cast of the novel.

   Overall I was very pleased with this novel. The Immortal Empire books have been a real joy to read, and they are an excellent Steampunk trilogy for those that like their Steampunk to come with a large side order of Urban Fantasy. If you are unfamiliar with this SFF subgenre, I would recommend these novels as an excellent starting point.
   The only real complaint I have is about the ending of this book. Not that it is in any way bad, in fact it is very good. It did however come as somewhat of an anticlimax for me. Although we get a great ending to this trilogy, it feels a bit like I have just witnessed the end of the beginning of Xandra's story. So, even though this is billed as the final The Immortal Empire book, I am hoping for further stories set in this world, and I will be there ready for them if they should ever show up.

REVIEWS: God Save the Queen   The Queen is Dead

LINKS: Kate Locke  Orbit

No comments:

Post a Comment