The Warrior Queen
Fans of young adult fantasy series featuring strong-willed, independent, and powerful heroines will want to pay particular attention to Emily R. King’s Hundredth Queen series of which The Warrior Queen is the fourth and final installment. It’s a series best read in chronological order, so make sure you’ve read the first three books before picking this one up.
Life can be pretty complicated when you’re barely eighteen and the fate of an empire rests on your shoulders. Kalinda never wanted to be a queen, but she was chosen to rule by the Raja’s side, and no one, especially a woman, would dare refuse the Raja. So, she bade farewell to her home and her friends and began to accustom herself to her new life. And then, if all of this wasn’t enough, Kali learns she’s actually one of the hated Bhutas, a powerful race made up of those who are half deity and half human. Bhutas have the power to control nature, and they’ve been outlawed for centuries. Suddenly, Kali finds herself caught up in a dangerous plot to assassinate the Raja and return Bhutas to their rightful place in society.
The Warrior Queen opens after most of the conflict is over. The Raja has been successfully defeated, and his long lost son is ruling the empire in his stead. Bhutas are slowly beginning to integrate themselves into society. On the whole, things are starting to look up. At least, they are for everyone except Kali.
Deven, the man Kali loves, has been imprisoned in the underworld by a powerful and dangerous demon. His soul is able to fly free during the night-time hours, and he visits Kali whenever he can, but the two of them can never truly be together as long as Deven’s body is held captive. Kali is understandably desperate to rescue Deven, but almost no one has managed to survive a trip to the underworld. Still, Kali knows she has to try to bring Deven home if she ever wants a chance at happiness.
If love triangles are a problem for you, you’ll want to skip this entire series. Kali loves Deven fiercely, but she also wrestles with her feelings for Ashwin, the Raja’s son and the empire’s new ruler. Kali has pretty much made her choice by the time this book opens, but she still waffles now and then, something that might prove frustrating for some readers.
The story is told in alternating points of view, with told through Kali, Deven, and Ashwin’s eyes. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about seeing things from Ashwin’s perspective; I was afraid his chapters would pull the focus away from Kali’s quest to rescue Deven, but I needn’t have worried. I actually enjoyed seeing what was going on in the mortal world while Kali was away, and I found myself warming to Ashwin more than I had in previous books.
I’m a huge fan of strong female friendships, and I was thrilled to see Ms. King create such fantastic relationships between the women in the series. In fact, the bonds of sisterhood forged by Kali and the women around her are actually one of the hallmarks of these books. Unfortunately though, I didn’t see nearly as much of those relationships in this particular book, and I definitely felt the loss. Here, Kali is forced to stand on her own more than ever before, and while this is a positive step for her in some ways, it saddened me to see her without her close-knit group of friends.
The Warrior Queen is a solid conclusion to the series, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the previous entries. The novel relies heavily on mythology, and I sometimes felt bogged down by the constant retelling of various myths and fairytales. I think they were supposed to put Kali’s quest into some sort of context, but they were more of a distraction than anything else. The same thing is true of the lengthy passages describing the various places Kali must traverse on her way to the underworld. I love it when an author is able to create a world that feels three-dimensional, but the numerous descriptions made it difficult to remain focused on the story itself. Even so, the Hundredth Queen is a wonderful series filled with diverse characters, and I’ll admit to being a little bit sad to have reached the end.