Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This was....okay. It's basically a court intrigue with a thin veneer of science fiction and space opera slathered on top. It follows a pretty standard formula: the heiress who fled home gets dragged back, the empire is in chaos, her family members are being murdered, and she has to decide whether to take up that life she turned her back on. Along the way she picks up unexpected allies, proves to be doggedly hard to kill, and in the end is crowned Empress after all.
That could be a good story in the right hands, but unfortunately this isn't. The writing is just adequate, and the characterizations are shallow. There's an attempt to create a unique culture, a pseudo-India (as in the subcontinent, not First Nations) transplanted to another planet--most characters have Indian names, there is a pantheon of Indian gods, and everyone wears saris--that I wish the author had never included because it just comes off as painful and awkward. Another not-so-great worldbuilding idea is that the society is matriarchal because the radiation from when the planet was first settled killed off most of the men, the women assumed leadership roles, and now men are viewed as being generally inferior and incapable of ruling, or some such. Obviously that's a commentary on today's society, but it's not terribly well-thought-out.
This book isn't really bad; it falls more into the category of "a mile wide and an inch deep." It's a decent read, but it lacks the thought, depth and spark that would make me search out the sequel.
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