Series: The Hundredth Queen #1
Published by Skyscape on June 1st 2017
Buy on Amazon
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Okay, so I have to admit that what initially drew me to this book were the first lines of the synopsis: “He wanted a warrior queen. He got a revolutionary.” That just screamed kick ass heroine to me so I couldn’t wait to dive into Emily King’s The Hundredth Queen, the first book in The Hundredth Queen series. The Hundredth Queen follows eighteen-year-old Kalinda, a sickly orphan girl who is a ward of the Sisterhood. Because she has been prone to fevers her entire life, she has not received much of the training that her fellow wards have received. This makes her a very unlikely candidate for the future that most of her fellow wards wish for – that of being ‘claimed’ by a royal family. Wards who are ‘claimed’ go on to become servants, or sometimes even courtesans or wives.
Kalinda is fully prepared to join the Sisterhood when the time comes and live a life of seclusion and prayer. In fact, she’d much prefer this over the alternative. When Rajah Tarek, who has the reputation of being a tyrant, comes to the Sisterhood looking to claim a new courtesan, as well as his 100th wife, Kalinda and her beloved friend Jaya conspire so as not to be chosen by Rajah. Their plan unfortunately backfires and Rajah chooses Kalinda to be his 100th wife, taking her away from Jaya and the only life she has ever known.
What Kalinda soon learns is that being the 100th wife means she must take part in a Rank Tournament to defend her place among Rajah’s other wives and courtesans and that the Rank Tournament is basically a fight to the death. Kalinda is horrified by the idea that all of these women are willing to kill each other just to improve their wifely ranking and is desperate to find a way out of her predicament, especially since she has no interest in being Rajah’s wife. Instead, she has fallen head over heels for one of Rajah’s guards, Captain Deven Naik. Kalinda wants nothing more than to find a way to escape her unwanted fate and be with the man she loves. Her best chance for escape comes when she learns that those fevers she has suffered from all her life are actually so much more than just fevers. Instead, they are a manifestation of a latent power she possesses but that the Sisterhood has kept hidden by dosing her with a “fever” tonic. Why? Because the power Kalinda possesses is forbidden and could mean death if the wrong people were to find out about it.
Can Kalinda harness this power while keeping it a secret from those who would harm her? And can she use it to escape this death match that Rajah has set her up for?
Kalinda was definitely my favorite part of The Hundredth Queen. I always enjoy reading about an underdog that I can root for and with her fevers and lack of training, she is immediately presented in the role of the underdog. As I was reading about the ‘Claiming’ process and seeing how few options women have in this society, I was completely turned off, so I found Kalinda very relatable as soon as it became clear that she felt the same way I did about the few choices women had. After seeing that all she wanted was to be able to choose her own path rather than have it dictated to her, it was that much more heart-wrenching to see her taken away and therefore separated from Jaya, who is obviously like a sister to her.
I continued to relate to Kalinda once she learned about the Rank Tournament and was horrified to find out what all of these women are willing to do to each other just to compete for Rajah’s attention. The treatment of women in the book is truly appalling, and Kalinda’s recognition of that, along with those first lines of the synopsis made me perk up once more: Is Kalinda going to be the revolutionary who changes everything?
As awful as the idea of the Rank Tournament was, I have to admit that the training scenes and especially the combat scenes in the novel are pretty amazing. Those wives and courtesans are not people you want to end up on the wrong side of. They are fierce and they’re willing to fight dirty to get what they want. Lakia, Rajah’s number 1 wife is especially vicious and I feared for Kalinda on more than one occasion because Lakia really seems to have it in for her.
Aside from a relatable underdog main character and some epic action scenes, another aspect of the novel I enjoyed was the forbidden magic. Those who possess the magic are called Bhuta and they are just fascinating. Rajah has had many of them killed over the years, but those who have survived are in hiding and hoping to find a way to strike back at Rajah. We don’t learn too much about them in this book, so I hope they will be explored in more depth in future books in the series. What we do know is that their powers appear to be elemental, based on earth, wind, air, and fire.
Even though I enjoyed The Hundredth Queen overall, I did have some issues with it. My biggest issue with it lies in the relationship between Kalinda and Captain Deven Naik. As soon as Kalinda and Deven see each other for the first time, they’re mutually obsessed, and for no apparent reason. For me, it just felt awkward and forced since there was no build up to it at all. It was 100% instalove, which never works well for me. What I also didn’t like though was the way Kalinda keeps putting Deven in compromising positions. She knows full well that Rajah will kill Deven if he suspects Deven and Kalinda are romantically involved, but yet she keeps talking to him in private and otherwise calling attention to themselves when they should be keeping a safe distance from each other. At one point she even kisses him where anyone could have walked in and caught them. I just didn’t care very much for her reckless behavior. Deven of course is equally to blame. If he wants to stay alive, he needs to stay away from Rajah’s soon-to-be wife. It’s not rocket science.
I honestly thought Kalinda had a lot more chemistry with a character named Brac. He is one of the magical Bhuta, and while I don’t want to say too much about him because of spoilers, he actually ended up being one of my favorite characters and I preferred his interactions with Kalinda’s to her interactions with Deven.
One other issue I had was that I didn’t have a clear understanding of the Rank Tournament. It didn’t make sense to me that these women were really willing to die or to murder someone else in order to reach a higher wifely rank or else to move from courtesan status to wife status. I would have liked more explanation about why these women were so eager to challenge each other and if there was some other point to it aside from getting more attention from Rajah. Speaking of Rajah, I also didn’t really understand why he was so obsessed with following some obscure legend step-by-by, especially since it meant his chosen women had to kill each other. Following this legend is why he instituted the Rank Tournament in the first place and it was unclear to me why it was important enough to him to warrant killing people. Those areas of the storytelling were a little vague and I would have liked them fleshed out more.
Even though I clearly had some issues with The Hundredth Queen, I still found it to be an entertaining read overall. I’m definitely invested enough in Kalinda’s story to pick up the second book.
As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.
But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.
Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.
About Emily R. King
Emily R. King is a reader of everything and a writer of fantasy. Born in Canada and raised in the USA, she has perfected the use of “eh” and “y’all” and uses both interchangeably. Shark advocate, consumer of gummy bears, and islander at heart, Emily’s greatest interests are her four children. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and an active participant in her local writers’ community. She lives in Northern Utah with her family and their cantankerous cat.
It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.
Just one more day until my last big deadlines of the year! I’m happy to say that this past week actually ended up not being nearly as stressful as I thought it was going to be. My coworkers were a lot more proactive than usual and even though we were really busy, everything went very smoothly. Hopefully that trend will continue through tomorrow!
We also had our first soccer playoff game yesterday, which didn’t go as we had hoped so our season is now over. It wasn’t the way we wanted to end, considering how well our team had played all season, but the better team definitely won yesterday. I’m still really proud of my son, since this was his personal best season yet. I’m waiting now to hear from him if he’s done until next spring or if he wants to play in the winter indoor soccer league.
Not too much else is going on honestly. On the blog, I’ll be posting my 50th Netgalley review tomorrow so that’s a pretty exciting milestone for me. I’ve also finally reached the 1,000 follower mark on twitter so I’ll be posting a new giveaway sometime soon to celebrate. 🙂 I’ve also been looking around for new challenges and readathons to participate in this fall and winter and so far, the one that has appealed to me the most is Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s HoHoHo Readathon so I’ve been looking for books for that and plan to sign up soon. If anyone knows of any other good challenges or readathons, let me know. I’m kind of new to them so I don’t necessarily know what’s out there to choose from.
Anyway, I think that’s it for me. Have a great week, everyone!
WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK
- [8 Oct] Weekly Recap #21: Week of 10/1-10/7
- [9 Oct] Murder Over Mochas by Caroline Fardig ★★★½
- [10 Oct] Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Book Covers That Make Me Think of Fall
- [11 Oct] Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on GIRL MADE OF STARS by Ashley Herring Blake
- [13 Oct] Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★★
WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK
STACKING THE SHELVES
Also by this author: Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Series: Six of Crows #2
Published by Henry Holt and Company on September 20th 2016
Also in this series: Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Buy on Amazon
Wow, what a book! I honestly don’t think I could have asked for a better series ender. Crooked Kingdom is one of those books that not only lives up to all of the hype surrounding it, but it far exceeded my own super-high expectations for it. As much as I loved Six of Crows, in many ways I enjoyed Crooked Kingdom even more. I remember while reading the first book, it took me about 100 pages to really get invested in the characters and hooked on their story. With Crooked Kingdom, I was hooked from page 1 and captivated by the story because the action picked up right where it left off in Six of Crows, where Wylan’s nasty father, Van Eck, had kidnapped Inej, and Kaz and the team were plotting how to get her back. Honestly, I fully expected the entire second book to focus on rescuing Inej, so I was thrilled as I was reading to see that it was so much more than that.
Hopefully, I’m not being too vague in the next section but I really don’t want to do anything to spoil the series for anyone who hasn’t yet started reading it.
What really took Crooked Kingdom to the next level for me was how it’s a perfect balance between being plot driven and character driven. Bardugo delivers an entertaining, action-packed storyline that is equal parts heist and revenge, but also combines it with an in-depth exploration of each of the members of Kaz’s crew. I remember raving about these wonderfully complex characters when I reviewed Six of Crows, and Bardugo takes us even deeper into the minds of each of them this time around. Even as they are actively engaged in carrying out Kaz’s plans, each member of the team is also taking their own personal journey, and in many cases, facing their own inner demons. Going into this book, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about each of them, but I was so wrong. The more Bardugo fleshes out each character and shows them fighting those personal demons, the more I fell in love with each of them, especially Jesper, Wylan, and Matthias, who all just experience so much growth in Crooked Kingdom.
I don’t want to give away any details of what they all go through in Crooked Kingdom, but I will say that this read took me on an emotional roller coaster ride. I laughed, I cried (tears of both joy and sadness), I truly feared for Inej’s life on more than one occasion, and I got my heart ripped out in an unexpected plot twist late in the novel. I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever been more attached to a group of characters so I give Bardugo major props for all of those little details that made me so invested in all of them.
Not only did Bardugo make me fall in love with these characters, she even turned me into a hardcore shipper even though I’m usually anti-romance. I didn’t even just ship one of the pairings; I shipped them all! Nina and Matthias were my favorites just because they’re such a wonderful combination of sweet and sassy. Every time Nina would say or do something that would make Matthias blush, it would just make me chuckle because they were so cute. I also thought the relationship between Inej and Kaz was fantastic, mainly because of all of the mystery surrounding it. Inej never quite knows where she stands with Kaz – is he attached to her only because she’s useful to him, or does he feel something more for her? These two badass characters are at their most vulnerable when they are together and I liked seeing past those tough exteriors to what lies beneath. And don’t even get me started on Jesper and Wylan? They definitely win the most precious couple ever award. Love them!
I know it sounds like there’s a lot going on with the heist/revenge storyline, the character explorations, and three potential romances, not to mention the story is told from each of their perspectives, but Bardugo does a brilliant job of weaving all of these elements together into an intricate yet easy-to-follow storyline that is incredibly compelling.
I can’t think of a single issue or dislike. It was pretty close to a perfect read for me. I’m just sad that it’s over because I’m not ready to say goodbye Kaz and his wonderful band of outcasts.
I can’t recommend Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom highly enough. If you enjoy fabulously complex characters, anti-heroes, phenomenal world building, intricate plots, and romances that will make you smile, this is the series for you!
After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn—and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld.
About Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of the Six of Crows Duology and the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising), as well as the upcoming Wonder Woman: Warbringer (Aug 2017) and The Language of Thorns (Sept 2017).
She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.