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Cool concept - Once a gunrunner now heir to the throne - which was completely an utterly obliterated by the author. Let's start with the character of Hail. Who leaves home at 18 to pursue one of her father's assassins and then spends twenty years living in space, becoming that gunrunner. Except this chick never grows up, she might as well have been in stasis for all the maturity and wealth of experience she displays. Forever moaning you don't want the gunrunner as your heir. First as a lament. Then eventually as a threat. Okay, fine, I know she never planned to return home to be the heir/empress, but once it is clear it is her only option, she embraces her destiny, but not really and then kind of... sort of. Talk about inconsistent. Sarcastic, and threatening one minute and then her knees are buckling and she's all but weeping as some random 20 plus year memory all but side swipes her... again, and again and again. To the point where the reader is all but pleading with this chick to ovary up. This book is also billed as SF, but since only about two small chapters are spent there it is really more of a futuristic YA (Despite the h's 38 years of age) coming of age novel, set in a palace, with a matriarchal society to add vague interest, but never goes anywhere. And with an even more boring religious element thrown in just so Hail has a mandatory reason to leave her rooms occasionally. The blurb was great, but the author failed to deliver on so many levels what should have been a rollicking good adventure as the title character cuts a swathe through her enemies and discovers that being Empress is only one small step away from being a gunrunner. Now that was the story I wanted to read.
This is an SF space opera/ mystery adventure, the story of the black sheep of a royal family, who ran away many years ago to become a smuggler/ pirate in the wilder reaches of the universe. But now, all of her family members — the would-be heirs — have been assassinated in numerous suspicious circumstances, and she is being forcibly dragged back to the empire by loyal Trackers sent by her Empress mother, to take over as their reluctant ruler and find out who is behind the murders.
Yay! Finally, a novel I just unabashedly loved. It’s like
The Goblin Emperor
, but with a lot less of the kinder, gentler aspect of that book, and with the adventure factor ramped up several notches. The main character is flawed but really likeable. This is almost certainly going to be one of my Hugo nominees. I can't wait to pick up the next entry in this series,
After the Crown
Cressen Stone is a successful gunrunner. But she was once Hail Bristol, heir to the throne of the Indranan Empire. And her mother the Empress is dying. So Trackers are sent to bring Hail home. The home she deserted over a decade ago. The home she doesn’t want to see again. Or at least, that’s what everyone back home thinks. And when she gets home, her gunrunning skills may be all that can keep her alive.
Hail rapidly recalls all the royal protocols, much to her dismay, but she needs to work out which faction is trying to destabilise the Empire before she ends up as dead as her sisters. Her gunrunning skills may allow her to beat assassins hand-to-hand, but they won’t save her from bombs, or shield her from politics. It seems that the current troubles may be related to why she left the Empire in the first place.
This is a great page turner with a full cast of lost heirs, sarcastic bodyguards, misunderstood Empresses, evil cousins, scheming prime ministers, gentlemanly ambassadors, and rival empires. The Indranan Empire is descended from Hindu India, with a matriarchal overlay, which results in some interesting cultural features. I’m looking forward to the next book, seeing how Hail copes with her changed circumstances in very perilous times indeed.
From the very beginning this book grabs you by the collar and drags you through some of the best written SF in the galaxy. Wonderful concepts of having female leaders in a Hindu community of planets and a criminal reluctantly becoming Queen. All written superbly with intricate relationships and well compiled plots and counterplots.