Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Heroines We Adore: Review of Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers

Behind the Throne (The Indranan War #1)
Author: K.B. Wagers
Series: Indranan War, #1
Released: August 2nd 2016
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 405 pages
Source: Publisher for review

Meet Hail: Captain. Gunrunner. Fugitive.
Quick, sarcastic, and lethal, Hailimi Bristol doesn't suffer fools gladly. She has made a name for herself in the galaxy for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan Empire. That is, until two Trackers drag her back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir.
But trading her ship for a palace has more dangers than Hail could have anticipated. Caught in a web of plots and assassination attempts, Hail can't do the one thing she did twenty years ago: run away. She'll have to figure out who murdered her sisters if she wants to survive.
A gun smuggler inherits the throne in this Star Wars-style science fiction adventure from debut author K. B. Wagers. Full of action-packed space opera exploits and courtly conspiracy - not to mention an all-out galactic war - Behind the Throne will please fans of James S. A Corey, Becky Chambers and Lois McMaster Bujold, or anyone who wonders what would happen if a rogue like Han Solo were handed the keys to an empire . . .

Behind the Throne, K. B. Wagers’ sci-fi debut, fell into my hands after much praise from some of my most trusted peers. To describe my experience with it as love at first chapter would not be an exaggeration at all. Discovering books like it and pushing them at unsuspecting readers is why I took up blogging in the first place. It gives me great pleasure to share my delight over this title with all of you.

Behind the Throne starts with a bang and continues in an unrelenting pace. It is set in a distant future, on one of many human colonies in space. The Indranan Empire relies somewhat on our reality, namely Indian culture and beliefs, but it’s really present only in traces that allow us to connect more easily. Although it neatly falls into the science fiction category, the first Indranan War book reads a lot like fantasy, which is to be expected considering the atmosphere and the political intrigue.

I’ve seen Behind the Throne compared to books like Queen of the Tearling, but the comparisons are vastly unfair. Although I enjoyed the first Tearling book, Behind the Throne is a much better work in every aspect, starting with the quality of writing and ending with the protagonist. Hailimi is a heroine like no other – tough, ruthless and sharp-witted. As the runaway daughter of the Indranan Empress, she wants nothing to do with the throne, but when the responsibility falls on her, she accepts it and does a fantastic job of it. She can be soft, kind, and even insecure, but she rises to every challenge and constantly displays an air of not-so-quiet confidence. It’s rare to find a protagonist like her, unapologetic and confident in every situation.

Hailimi isn’t a heroine that prevaricates or dawdles in any given situation. She chooses her course swiftly and decidedly and she follows through until the end. She accepts and even follows advice of her trusted guards, but in the end, she is aware of her own worth and confident in her abilities. These days it’s tough to find a heroine like her, someone who doesn’t doubt herself on every step of the way. I could see myself following someone like her blindly and even dying to protect her, for the good of the Empire.

Wagers does an equally excellent job with her side characters. A lot of love and effort was put into Emmory, the leader of Hail’s guard. His partner was equally well crafted and the two together provided much needed physical and emotional support for our heroine. There are several others that stood out, the most complex being the empress-mother herself.

Hailimi falls into the snake pit that is her mother’s court as the only remaining hope for the empire. She wants nothing to do with it, but she suddenly has to play if she is to save her family’s legacy. There are so many obstacles ahead of her and very few people she can trust. The plots to undermine her are complex and very well done, with enemies coming from all sides and friends ready to betray when least expected. While the book is strongest in characterization, plotting doesn’t fall behind, and all of it is laced with a wicked sense of humor that makes even the biggest tragedies bearable.

Behind the Throne needs little help for me since its success is practically guaranteed. Word of mouth is still the best way to sell a book, and this one will make a fan of anyone who touches it. Trust me when I tell you it will make a fan out of you, too.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. Great plot and great characters? Sign me up.

  2. This sounds like your perfect book, Maja. I'm glad you found it. You know me. I don't do well with Sci-fi, but I love this review. You can tell how much you adore this novel. :)

  3. I am So glad I tried this one on NG, it was such a cool book

  4. Yay for diversity! I dnfed the Queen of Tearling, which I just found boring and *so* slow. I will definitely be adding this one to my tbr.

  5. I used to read a lot of book blogs, but yours is the only one I stayed with. I just thought you should know that.


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