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Friday, April 25, 2014

Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website  
Order “Heaven's QueenHERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "The Spirit Thief
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Rebellion” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit Eater” & “Spirit’s Oath” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of “The Spirit War” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Spirit's End"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Fortune's Pawn"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of "Honor's Knight"
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Eli Monpress series completion interview with Rachel Aaron
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Rachel Bach

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rachel Bach (Rachel Aaron) lives in Athens, Georgia with her family. She has graduated from University of Georgia with a B.A. in English Literature. She has been an avid reader since her childhood and now has an ever-growing collection to show for it. She loves gaming, Manga comics & reality TV police shows. She also blogs occasionally on the Magic Districts website.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell's doomed ship, Devi Morris' life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that's eating her alive.

Now, with the captain missing and everyone -- even her own government -- determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi's never been one to shy from a fight, and she's getting mighty sick of running.

It's time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay. 

CLASSIFICATION: The Paradox trilogy is an action-packed SF series with romantic elements. Think of it as “Kate Daniels in armor and fighting aliens in space” or possibly a female heroine version of the Shadow Warrior series by Chris Bunch.

FORMAT/INFO: Heaven’s Queen is 400 pages long divided over fourteen numbered chapters and a prologue. Narration is in the first person solely via Deviana “Devi” Morris and in the third person for Brian Caldswell. There's also an excerpt from Ancillary Justice

April 22, 2014 marks the Trade paperback and e-book publication of Heaven’s Queen via Orbit Books.

ANALYSIS: I’m a big fan of Rachel Aaron, that’s pretty evident to readers of this blog. I’ve been following her books since I happened upon Spirit Thief and it’s to her credit that since 2010 she’s also finished her second series in a completely different genre. This review will be talking about the preceding titles in the Paradox trilogy so for readers who haven’t read the previous ones please stop and read the earlier books.

Heaven's Queen is the concluding volume in the Deviana Morris trilogy and as far as endings go, a smashing one. The prologue reveals a big secret of the past in regards to the formation of the Eyes as well as how the Lelgis first came up with a solution for the phantoms. We get to see it all from Brian Caldswell’s POV and also how Maat got a permanent location. We find ourselves back with Devi and Rupert who have to iron the mess that have been their professional & personal lives. Also before they can do so, Devi it seems is on time-ticker with regards to the Plasmex virus within her. Everyone including the Eyes, Paradoxian, Terran & the Lelgis are after them & her options are running out to figure out what her endgame will be. This is the main plot of this volume and of course there are a lot more surprises within.

All but the main secrets have been revealed in the second volume Honor's Knight, but in this one we are privy to what really started the war for saving our universe & how Brian Caldswell became such a pivotal figure in it. Not only are we shown that crucial scene but also Brian’s past is laid bare which goes a long way in explaining his actions so far & all that he attempts in this one. Devi on the other hand is still the same motormouth armored badass that we have come to expect. She however also shows a lot of fortitude and guts with her decisions in regards to Rupert and Maat. There's also much more about Maat, her daughters and why she has been imprisoned so far.

That’s the big focus of the story; the whole universe is in major trouble and its upto our protagonists to resolve the crisis. I loved how the author managed to shift the focus on to this aspect of the story as in the first two books, the story while being Devi-centric was more focused on what she did and happened around her. In Heaven’s Queen, the plot while being Devi-centric manages to convey the sense of dread and ultimately the journey that she undertakes. I enjoyed the action sequences set in the story and also the fact that we got to see a crucial personage from the Paradoxian world.

Lastly we get down to Devi and Rupert. While the romantic aspect of the story was a bit toned down due to it being the finale, for those looking for some romantic action will not be entirely disappointed. A massive ending ensues and once again Rachel Bach/Aaron proves that she never does things on a tiny scale. With this story she was looking to combine SF action with a strong does of romance and she was able to do that rather admirably if you look at the entire trilogy as a whole. For those wanting their action fix, she doesn’t disappoint either and somehow manages to make the climax epic and yet focused on a few individuals. The pace of the story never lets up and will have the reader turning pages to see how it all ends.

Now as with trilogy endings, there are always going to be a few things that you might not like. For me there was a sort of imperfect balance between the action sequences as well as the romance in the story. While the first two books managed to be precise with this aspect, somehow Heaven’s Queen wasn’t able to continue that trend. Sure I might be completely wrong about this and others might like this book better than its predecessors. But for me the first two books were superior to this one.

Also we don’t quite get a proper reveal about the Terran-Paradoxian split, this was something I was very curious to know. Also the Paradoxian society was never quite revealed but only glimpsed via conversations. Now with the trilogy being focused on all other worlds except Terran & paradox, I don’t blame the author for not being able to reveal more. I’m hoping that she does manage to write another series in this universe wherein these queries can be resolved.

CONCLUSION: Rachel Bach ends the Paradox trilogy on a note that will strongly resonate with her readers and fans of Devi Morris. Sure there are a couple of things that didn’t match up to my expectations but these are simply minor details in what turns out to be a smashing read filled with action, romance and a strong does of humor from a motormouth mercenary who manages to leave everyone speechless. Heaven’s Queen is an epic ending to a fun trilogy that will be ideal for fans who love great characters and incredible settings.


Booksnhorses said...

Thank you for putting me onto this series Mihir. I've enjoyed the first two and am reading this one incredibly slowly to spin it out as I am loving it so much. I agree that the romance took a little more of a front seat in this book leading to a slower start but it needed developing and followed naturally from the previous two books. It is also helping to slow to slow my heart rate from the headlong action!

The Reader said...

@ Booksnhorses

Thank you and I'm glad you are enjoying the series so much. Yeah the romance did need to be fleshed out and the fantastic climax put paid to any apprehensions I had about the book. The revelations as well as the conclusion definitely made it a great trilogy and now I can't wait to read a sequel trilogy that will feature a new protagonist set in the same universe.



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