Book Review ~ Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers

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For twenty years, Hail’s been on the run. She’s an outlaw and gunrunner, but the people on her trail aren’t tracking her down for any crime. She’s a princess (third in line to the Indranan throne). She ran away from her Empress mother at eighteen to hunt down her father’s murderer and bring him to justice. She never found the killer, but she kept running.

The constrictive life of court couldn’t compete with the freedom of space.

Hail’s life outside the law, unfortunately, can’t last forever and everything’s thrown into upheaval when a pair of Imperial trackers catch up with her. They destroy her ship and take her captive, but the worst news is still to come. They’re taking her home because her mother is dying and her two sisters and niece have been murdered. Hail is now heir to the Indranan throne.

Between political machinations and murders attempts, Hail struggles to stay alive long enough to find her sisters’ killers and take her place as Empress. Thankfully, all her years dealing with crime bosses prepared her for staying alive–even when someone has a gun to her head.

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K. B. Wagers’ Behind the Throne is a fast-paced, Science Fiction romp. The plot catches you up and drags you along as its unlikely heroine dodges bullets and maneuvers deftly through court. Hail’s an engaging lead character. You feel for her losses, cheer as she takes on her enemies, and long for her to survive so her awful cousin won’t take the throne. Her gunrunner past makes her far more interesting than a lot of your resistant princess characters, and her age (thirty-eight) allows her to bring realistic maturity and experience to her actions.

Her home empire also sets her apart from many other Science Fiction heroines. The Indranan Empire was colonized by Indian settlers thousands of years before the action of the novel takes place. Hail wears saris, worships Hindu gods, and drinks chai. On top of that, her mother rules a matriarchy. Only women can inherit the throne and hold most important political positions. Hail does wish for more equality between the sexes, but for now, it’s the women of the Indranan Empire who run things.

Behind the Throne reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games and The Winner’s Curse series. Both The Hungers Games and Winner’s Curse are YA and not adult Science Fiction, but the pacing, style of political intrigue, and reticent heroines were reminiscent regardless. Wagers’ novel could actually be a good stepping stone from YA to Adult Sci Fi. The writing’s easy to read (if sometimes clunky), and the characters, diversity, and exciting storytelling are perfect for younger reads as well as older looking for a quick, engaging read.

I thoroughly enjoyed Behind the Throne. After reading a handful of horribly paced novels, this was just the book I needed to break me out of my reading slump. I had trouble putting Behind the Throne down and I’m looking forward to grabbing the sequel, After the Throne, when it’s released in December. I’d definitely recommend picking up Behind the Throne if action-packed Sci Fi with diversity is just your thing.

What Book has Broken You Out of a Reading Slump Lately?

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One thought on “Book Review ~ Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers

  1. This sounds nice. I like the older protagonist and her somewhat extralegal background… and I’ve been looking for some good adult scifi. Looks like this might be a good one!

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