CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 31. . . .April 13, 2018
The Rogue Queen. (The Hundredth Queen Series, Book Three).
Emily R. King.
New York, NY: Skyscape (Distributed in Canada by Thomas Allen & Son), 2018.
287 pp., trade pbk., $13.99.
Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.
Review by Jonine Bergen.
The lamplight flickers in the breeze. My soul’s reflection has never retreated from me before. I suppress a shudder, the cold inside me seeming to snicker at my failed effort to elude it. What are my powers good for? Tarachandians believe I should be stoned or locked up. The sultan believed bhutas should be slaves. And the datu treats our gifts like sideshow displays. I did not master nature-fire or learn how to scorch and parch soul-fire to entertain people.
But I have always flouted convention. My fevers made me an outcast at the temple, and my disgust for Tarek made me an outcast at the palace. My uncommon Burner powers make me unusual even among bhutas. I was born a rogue. I am the daughter of a Burner and a rani. Two people that by all rights should never have fallen in love. I came into this world with a purpose, to finish what my parents began. The Voider can steal Tarek’s identity, our army, and our people, but he cannot take away my birthright.
Rogue Queen, the third book of “The Hundredth Queen” series, starts immediately on the heels of The Fire Queen. In this instalment, Kalindra struggles to stop the demon, Udug, before the poison in her veins slowly, but inexorably, kills her.
The demon, Udug, was released at the end of The Fire Queen by Prince Ashwin in an attempt to stop a tyrant from gaining its power. By releasing the demon, Ashwin gained his heart’s desire. So, now the demon is marching on the rebels in the guise of his dead father, Rajah Tarek. This wish, however, is a double-edged sword because no one will be safe if the demon successfully wins the throne. Udug has his own agenda - opening the gate to the Void and freeing an even greater evil.
King follows the narrative pattern set in The Fire Queen by telling her story through the perspectives of her two main protagonists in alternating chapters. Devon continues to be stalwart and noble, and Kalindra continues to be conflicted. So, nothing much needs to be said about character development. King’s world building, however, is worth discussing.
As Kalindra and her small band continue their pattern of escaping and fighting back, they travel to different parts of King’s imaginary world and see how bhutas are treated very differently depending on the culture of the land. The author writes vivid descriptions of the settings her characters travel to and has done an admirable job of developing various cultures and political situations. She also continues to build the mythology of the origin of bhutas.
The twisting, action-motivated plot reunites Kalindra and Devon with a number of characters from the first two books of the series, including the ghost of Ashwin’s father and Kalindra’s husband Tarek, while introducing the reader to some potential new favorites. The introduction of new characters is notable since, to her credit, King is unafraid of killing her secondary characters to advance her plot.
The Rogue Queen is a romantically charged action-fantasy. The strong female focus may appeal to some readers, but the fundamental sense of patriarchy negates the girl-power message in my opinion.
Jonine Bergen is a librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
© CM Association
University of Manitoba
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