The Queen of Raiders: Satisfying, but left me wanting more

The Queen of Raiders by Sarah Kozloff science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Queen of Raiders by Sarah KozloffThe Queen of Raiders by Sarah Kozloff

The Queen of Raiders (2020) is Sarah Kozloff’s second installment in her NINE REALMS series. In my review of book one, A Queen in Hiding, I used words like “nice,” “serviceable,” “pleasurable,” “solid,” and “satisfying,” eventually closing with “I’m hoping for more as I keep going.” Unfortunately, I can’t say I got the “more” I was looking for, but the series does remain, well, solidly satisfying.

The story picks up where book one ended (I’m going to assume you’ve read it) and mostly follows two main characters: Cerulia, the queen in exile, as she tries to escape Lord Marwyck’s attempt to track her down and capture/kill her to cement his usurpation of Weirandale; and Thalen, who executes the idea he had at the end of book one of using guerilla attacks in Oromondo to force them to bring their occupying army back home.

Eventually, the two stories merge in Oromondo and Cerulia and Thalen team up against the Oros. Other chapters, fewer in number, follow secondary characters such as the general of the Oro invading army, Lord Matwyck’s son (far different from his villainous father), an agent of the gods, and a few others.

Sarah Kozloff

Sarah Kozloff

As with A Queen in Hiding, Kozloff presents a smoothly flowing narrative despite the frequents shifts in point-of-view and setting.

I’d also say she improves on the first book’s plot by relying less on coincidence or convenience, save for one plot point. My only complaint really about the plot is that it all comes a bit too easily to the characters. That’s not to say there aren’t setbacks or deaths in The Queen of Raiders, but they feel like minor blips and never really raise the tension much if at all or land with any true emotional effect (I’ll admit, as well, that Kozloff suffered a bit from this being one of several recent books that had characters crossing high-altitude mountains and/or snowy wastelands with a level of comfort that is just annoying to anyone who has been at such altitudes, or worse, seen rain/snow at that height).

Both Thalen and Cerulia remain likeable characters one doesn’t mind spending time with, if not all that compelling; I’m not sure they’re not overshadowed by some of the animal characters. There’s a moment where Cerulia, who has been on the run under assumed names for some time, notes, “I’ve become skilled at playacting, but I’m getting confused as to who I really am.” It’s the kind of complicated, introspective, “deepening” moment I would have liked to have seen more of.

Kozloff does enough to keep me going on to book three, A Broken Queen, but once again, I’m left hoping to see more.

Published in February 2020. Sarah Kozloff, author of A Queen in Hiding, continues the breathtaking and cinematic epic fantasy series The Nine Realms with book two, The Queen of Raiders, and all four books will be published within a month of each other, so you can binge your favorite new fantasy series. The soldiers of Oromondo have invaded the Free States, leaving a wake of misery and death. Thalen, a young scholar, survives and gathers a small cadre of guerilla fighters for a one-way mission into the heart of an enemy land. Unconsciously guided by the elemental Spirits of Ennea Mon, Cerulia is drawn to the Land of the Fire Mountains to join Thelan’s Raiders, where she will learn the price of war.

A Queen in Hiding, The Queen of Raiders by Sarah Kozloff A Queen in Hiding, The Queen of Raiders by Sarah Kozloff A Broken Queen Sarah KozloffThe Cerulean Queen by Sarah Kozloff


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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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