Book Review: The Queen of Raiders by Sarah Kozloff
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Book 2 of The Nine Realms
Publisher: Tor Books (February 18, 2020)
Length: 487 pages
Not wasting a beat, The Queen of Raiders by Sarah Kozloff plunges back into the war-ravaged world of The Nine Realms, picking up where A Queen in Hiding left off. This review assumes you’ve read the first book and may contain discussions about the previous volume’s events, so proceed with caution!
With Queen Cressa of Weirandale dead, the crown now belongs to her daughter Cérulia—except the young princess is still in exile, hiding in the countryside while the capital still crawls with traitors and spies. No longer a child, Cérulia leaves the safety of her adoptive home and makes her way across the mountains towards Oromondo, the nation responsible for killing her mother. Traveling under different aliases to hide her true identity, she uses her magical gift to communicate with animals, beseeching them to guide her way and lead her to allies who would help her avenge Queen Cressa.
Meanwhile, scholar turned soldier Thelan finds himself in way over his head, leading a ragtag band of rebels to harry the efforts of the Oros, whose invading hordes have left death and destruction all across the Free States. Thelan’s Raiders may be small, but their network is vast, with hidden resistance fighters situated in unexpected places. With Cérulia’s help, they will have even more ways to gather information, using her powers to find resources and uncover enemy troop movements. But will it be enough to make a difference? There’s still a long way to go for Cérulia to win back her throne, and the raiders face threats from all directions.
As the second installment of four, The Queen of Raiders starts by throwing readers right into the action. Now that Queen Cressa is dead, this book shifts its focus to Cérulia (who adopts multiple bird-themed names to stay anonymous) as well as Thelan, who was mostly a side character in the first book. Weaving in and out of these narratives are also several threads following individuals that give us a glimpse into the happenings around the world, including perspectives from inside Weirandale as well as from the enemy Oros camp. Slowly but steadily, we are tying the various storylines together and a larger picture is emerging.
And if A Queen in Hiding felt like a prologue, then this sequel feels like the opening chapters of a greater saga, officially establishing Cérulia as the focal point of the series. While she was introduced as a little girl in the previous volume, in this novel she official comes into her own as a young woman on a mission. I was also thrilled that her talent got a lot of attention, with her calling upon the creatures of the forest to come to her aid, including the hawks, eagles, and owls that serve as her eyes in the sky. A simple concept it may be, but Kozloff has managed to incorporate the power of talking to animals into many an epic scene.
Honestly, it’s hard to fault this one for feeling like a bridge book. Just as calling A Queen in Hiding a prologue was not meant as a slight, I don’t want to sound too disparaging here either, particularly since I believe that a “bridge book” was the author’s intention. With all four novels coming out in quick succession, I’m beginning to view this series as one single, gargantuan volume. While The Queen of Raiders contained an intro, a middle, and a climax and conclusion, in many ways it also reads like a stepping-stone to the next installment, because of the inherent assumption that the reader will be sticking around until the final destination. It’s a steep demand for your time and investment to be sure, but based on how much I enjoyed myself, I think it’ll be worth it.
In sum, I believe the series is still in the stages of establishing a foundation at this point, setting up for bigger things to come. Yet the journey so far has been well-paced and entertaining, and I am by no means losing interest in Cérulia’s journey. In fact, now I find myself even more invested in her quest to regain her rightful place as queen, especially in light of the jaw-dropping events at the end of this book. As we’re officially at the halfway point of this series, I have even greater expectations and hopes for the next one!
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of A Queen in Hiding (Book 1)