Cover image by Steward Noack/Don Sipley
Cover design by Lauren Panepinto
THE QUEEN IS DEAD
BOOK TWO OF THE IMMORTAL EMPIRE
Pages: 333 (+ glossary and extras)
Published: 5 February 2013
On the cover:
Xandra Varden is the newly crowned Goblin Queen of England. But her complicated life is by no means over.
There are the political factions vying for her favor, and the all too-close scrutiny of Queen Victoria, who for some reason wants her head. Not to mention her werewolf boyfriend with demands of his own, and a mother hell bent on destroying the monarchy. Now she's the suspect in a murder investigation - and Xandra barely knows which way is up.
What she does know is that nothing lasts forever - and immortality isn't all it's cracked up to be.
This is the sequel to God Save the Queen, a book I read and reviewed last year. It's a "true sequel" in the sense that I wouldn't really recommend reading this first, although it is actually possible.
Locke hasn't messed about with the formula from the first book, so if you have read that you'll know pretty much what you can expect from this follow up. But that doesn't mean that this is a re-hash of what has gone before.
There's not any time being wasted here. By the end of the first chapter we are not only to some degree up to date, we have been introduced to a mystery that needs to be looked at by our main character. The whole novel works at a similar pace, although there are some passages that are a bit slower there's something happening constantly. The quick pace works very well. Locke's writing style fits perfectly with the action filled plot of this novel.
Sometimes the depth of a story can suffer when the plot moves rapidly, but that is not the case here. The world expands from the first novel, and it was already solid and interesting then. We get some glimpses into more of what is going on both in the open and in more hidden corners of the world. And although we do learn quite a bit more, there's no infodumping here. Locke manages to weave the new information about the world she has created quite seamlessly into the story.
But what is for me the most interesting aspect of the depth of this novel is that it does look quite closely at the problems a society that consists of different species has. This element is never superficial, and it is in some ways the main element of the story. Those that criticize Steampunk for glossing over the social issues don't have to look further than this books to find it being a central element to the story.
There's actually quite a bit of suspense here too. Even though much of the story moves quickly Locke manages to create both anticipation and mystery. The balance between the action, worldbuilding, and mystery works very well in my opinion.
Players from the previous book also return, and they are welcome back - in a storytelling sense if not a friendly one. The characters are well drawn by Locke, we don't get much superficiality here. The focus is of course on Xandra, and she carries the responsibility of being our main character well. What flaws she has comes from who she is, not from flaws in the writing, and she is all the stronger and more realistic for it.
All in all I found this to be a very satisfying sequel. It brought the greater story forward, while being self-contained enough to tell its own story. This is excellent action-filled entertainment with some depth to it, enjoyable and capable of giving you some pause for thought.
If you like Steampunk mixed with modern style Urban Fantasy this is really a book series you should pick up. -Personally, I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment. I want to know what happens next.
Review: God Save the Queen
LINKS: Kate Locke Orbit