Title: The Hundredth Queen
Author: Emily R. King
First book in the Hundredth Queen Series
Young Adult Fantasy
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.
In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own.
I was expecting too much from this book, don’t get me wrong it’s not a bad book at all. In fact it has quite a few things that I really liked but they all had either a flaw or something was lacking for me. It missed the WOW factor that I was looking for.
This book has a middle eastern setting and cultural air which I really liked, it’s always enjoyable to be able to experience these bits of cultural differences.. The travelling with Elephants, the clothing (turbans, veils,etc), the dessert, the palace.. all those little things that managed to get you there in the scene. It was really well done not overly descriptive but not lacking either.
The Mythology was interesting but it confused me at times, maybe it had to do with so many Gods and their “intents” or the legends around almost everything they did. In the end I just thought that we were feeling a bit like the main character (Kali) who had such a mixed array of information — it might have been the point making the reader feel that way so I overlooked it.
“Sometimes it takes more strength to step back than forward.”
I appreciated the message it has about sisterhood and friendship, about the wrongness of how women were treated, but it felt lacking (the friendships at least). I mean we hear about Kali’s friendship but we don’t really get much interaction or development. I needed more, not just hearsay.
The love interest was insta- lovey, which given how sheltered the girls were I might have understood from them however I don’t think you need to fall for the first male you see (be intrigued by him, i understand but not love). As for the instant connection that Deven felt towards Kali, it was too sudden, too fast and that put me off a bit.
It was refreshing to see that Deven wasn’t a bad guy at all, he was loyal, polite, sweet, protective, and overall great guy who wanted to full fill his duties with honor. I also liked Kali, she was a strong female lead and not in the typical bad ass kind of way which I appreciated.
“Let the sky lead me, the land ground me, the fire cleanse me, and the water feed me.”
The pacing was good, even with so much world building and mythology to put in to this book. I didn’t find myself bored I enjoyed the training and fighting and even the catlike behaviour between the wives and courtesans (it was like watching a bit of a reality show)
It’s not a new theme and it has a lot of common tropes (Death challenges, secret magic powers) but it manages to be entertaining at least I think it does. What I disliked was the motivation behind the villain (The Rajah) I found it to be a bit… the only word I can come up with is LESS.. maybe I was expecting a bigger scheme and it turned out to be too simplistic.
If you like Fantasy with a bit of Cultural diversity and aren’t put off by insta-lovey relationships, you might liked this book. I enjoy it well enough but I might have expected too much.