Book Review: The Fire Queen by Emily R. King
Though the tyrant rajah she was forced to marry is dead, Kalinda’s troubles are far from over. A warlord has invaded the imperial city, and now she’s in exile. But she isn’t alone. Kalinda has the allegiance of Captain Deven Naik, her guard and beloved, imprisoned for treason and stripped of command. With the empire at war, their best hope is to find Prince Ashwin, the rajah’s son, who has promised Deven’s freedom on one condition: that Kalinda will fight and defeat three formidable opponents.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Book: The Fire Queen
Series: The Hundredth Queen #2
Author: Emily R. King
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Page Count: 286
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Cover Artist: Jason Blackburn
My Rating: ★★★★
1) The Hundredth Queen: ★★★★
”You can start the fire, but you cannot control it. Anu created mortals in the image of the gods. Sky in our lungs, land beneath our feet, fire in our soul, and water in our blood. The First Bhutas were each given dominion over one of these powers. So you see, you have nothing to fear. You are fire, and fire is you.”
I had a difficult time getting into this book. It wasn’t the book’s fault–it was mine for reading this installment a while after The Hundredth Queen. (This is why I like, and recommend, to read series sequentially–not spaced over the course of a year. Unless you have an amazing memory.) Either way, woe to me for having to get caught up to speed.
The Fire Queen takes place two months after the end of The Hundredth Queen. Kalinda and her ban of friends and allies travel to the desert to locate the late Rajah Tarek’s son, Prince Ashwin. Since Kalinda is still Kindred to the throne, Ashwin becoming king is the only way she can renounce her duties.
The Fire Queen introduces the reader to bhutas representing the other elements. Tremblers (earth), Galers (air), and Aquifers (water) all make their presence known when royals from foreign lands enter to compete for Prince Ashwin’s hand in marriage, in order to become his Kindred. Little does Kalinda know that she cannot simply transfer her duties to Ashwin. Since she was Kindred to the previous rajah, the next in line to the throne could either claim her as a wife, or not. Without much of a choice, Kalinda also is to take part in a tournament against the other women vying for Ashwin’s hand.
Not only is Kalinda to partake in this tournament to the death, her people are forced into military encampments by the Janardanian Sultan. Determined to come up with a plan to free her people, Kalinda holds two powerful elements that could tip the odds in their favor: her power of fire, and an artifact which holds an ancient, but evil power. Being The Kindred gives her a place of power where she has the ability to help and protect her people from these foreign threats–but she needs to surpass the obstacles in front of her in order to do so, and ultimately decide if pursuing Ashwin as a husband to keep her place of power.
“Kali loves our people, and blames herself for their recent suffering. She will compete in another tournament to protect them from a foreign queen and more hardship.”
Things that I liked:
#1 The lore and its simple complexity is so alluring,
“Anu sought to possess his father’s glory and become king of the gods, so he killed Abzu and usurped his lordship. Enraged by her son’s betrayal, Tiamat birthed the First-Ever Dragon and filled the creature’s body with fiery venom. Together, they made war against her son. Armed with the arrows of his winds, Anu, the god of storms, fought Tiamat and the dragon. Anu cut through the channels of Tiamat’s blood and made the north wind bear her body away into secret places, creating rivers that ran into the salty seas. From her ribs, Anu crafted the vault of the sky and land, and from her spine, she sprouted the Morass.”
“What happened to the First-Ever Dragon?”
“Doesn’t say, but I once read that another name for the demon Kur is the First-Ever Dragon.”
Demons and dragons are one and the same?
While I remember there being some background on the lore in The Hundredth Queen, this book definitely dives in deep to unveil more details of the Parijana religion. Even more interesting were the translations of the faith by the different realms. While Kalinda grew up knowing certain customs, she witnessed the vast variety of different people and how they interpret their faith. While in real life, I don’t think this tactic is as practical, but this type of lore-based religion goes hand-in-hand with mythological deities and how they were worshiped by many different people in various ways.
#2 I really grew to revere Kalinda’s character through the many struggles she faces.
If she can fall this far, I can too.
Kalinda finds herself in a precarious position. When she discovers that her people are being corralled, she will stop at nothing to free them. However, she must put aside her own wishes and her relationship with Deven, to realizes that her position may be used for the greater good. Yes, that greater good would call for her to sacrifice (her heart), but she’s ultimately willing to do that in order to keep her people safe.
Having my title taken is like tumbling down endless stairs. I am falling for an eternity, with no means of stopping.
You can turn to the Voider.
The errant thought sprouts from nowhere. I try to pluck out the terrible idea, but it grows roots.
The Voider can answer your heart’s wish. It can set Deven and our people free from the encampments.
I’m not sure what it is about this series, but I’ve noticed some Biblical parallels. When Kalinda’s plans go awry, she’s tempted several times over to release the Voider, a terrible force that would change not only wreak havoc, but bring ruin. I couldn’t help but think of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness in Matthew. The best aspect of her character is the steadfastness she possesses. While she holds a great and terrible power within her grasp, and is tempted to unleash it, she doesn’t. She knows the cost everyone would pay if she did out of selfish fear.
#3 The theme of redemption exists throughout this book, particularly with Ashwin’s character. While Ashwin is not his father, and hasn’t necessarily done anything wrong, he’s working to constantly prove himself to Kalinda. It’s so common for people to inherit their parents’ bad reputations whether they are guilty of those acts themselves or not.
”Not every son is destined to become his father.”
There are times when he’s given a chance and proves himself as being much different than Kalinda expects.
”I’m ashamed of Tarek, ashamed of how the rest of the world perceives the empire and me on account of him.
However, I need to say that this is a point that I’m also torn on. even though he didn’t have any other choice in the matter. So, I’m a bit torn with how his character was portrayed in the end.
#4 Real-world problems of prejudice and discrimination are integrated into the plot. The divide between the Burner bhutas and human population turns a corner.
”Undoing their prejudice will take time. Have patience and faith.”
When Kalinda’s powers are discovered, she falls from Kindred to despised. Not only is the Janardanian Sultan terrible towards her, so are the people. Derogatory terms like slag and the like, are used towards Kalinda. While this isn’t a positive point per say, I wanted to mention it because I appreciated that there were some very real issues brought into this fantasy book that many could find
Things that I disliked:
#1 The repetition of the death tournament was a downside for me. Not only was it similar to the first book, it made me think of other dystopian series with the “forced battle” aspects in them (i.e. The Hunger Games). I thought that a different avenue could have been pursued to widen the plot elements a bit.
#2 Romances with both Deven and Ashwin occur (yeah, there’s a bit of a love triangle happening here.) Although…it’s not as far-fetched as some because of the circumstances, I just didn’t care for it.
Overall, I thought this was a great addition to the series, and am looking forward to the next installment to see where Kalinda ends up, and the conclusion to the ice demon. I wished to see more variety in the plotline, and hope that Kalinda can make a quick decision her romantic relationships.
Vulgarity: So, I didn’t come across any swearing. However, I’ve read other reviews that said there is swearing. I may have missed something. If there is, then it was minute because I’d catch on pretty quick if more than a few words were used.
Sexual content: Kissing only. However, Kalinda has some haunting encounters with Rajah Tarek where he is suggestive about their “wedding night” and is pursuing her in sexual manners.
Violence: Moderate. There aren’t many gory scenes, but there is a scene where Deven is being flogged into oblivion, as well as the beheading of another character.
“Not every son is destined to become his father.”
“The truth is not slander.”
“Undoing prejudice will take time. Have patience and faith.”
“The sun may not be shining yet, but dawn’s first ray is coming.”
“All myths are grounded in truth.”