Queen & Commander (A Hive Queen Novel) by Janine A Southard

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Queen & Commander (A Hive Queen Novel) by Janine A Southard

Buy Queen & Commander (A Hive Queen Novel) by Janine A Southard at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Enjoyable space opera focusing on a young group led by a clever and charismatic girl. A fun read with plenty of potential to take the disparate central characters further.Janine Southard popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 179 Date: March 2013
Publisher: Amazon Media
External links: Author's website

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2013 Independent Publisher Book Awards IPPY Silver Medal for Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book

In Rhiannon's world, your entire future depends on your final school test results. Everyone is classified according to personality type and entry to any career or university depends upon your personality type. It's impossible to cheat the test... unless you're Rhiannon. Rhiannon should really be a Perceiver. But all her life she has wanted her own hive. And to achieve this, she must test as a Queen or Commander. And this she does. The only person to ever have manipulated the test. Rhiannon's future is set: leadership training, followed by a choice of Devoted to serve her, followed by command of a prestigious space ship and hive.

But Rhiannon's future plans are dealt a crushing blow by none other than Gwyn, her best friend. Gwyn has a secret - and forbidden - boyfriend, Victor. The couple dread being parted and Victor comes up with a crazy plan. They'll form a hive with Rhiannon as leader, make Gwyn a secret part of the crew, and get away from this restricted world before it forces the lovers apart. Rhiannon can't deny her friend anything and soon, she, Gwyn, Victor, Luciano, Gavin and Alan are aboard the Ceridwen's Cauldron, about to embark on the journey of their lives...

Queen and Commander was such a fun read. I liked the world-building a great deal. This particular area of space is like a Welsh colony. The religion is Old British and citizens dance in tree groves at sacred times. It's also a society where women hold sway and men proclaim their devotion to a female leader. This is more important than any romantic relationships they make. Rhiannon's position as Hive Queen is thus reminiscent of the Celtic queens of yore. It's a cool motif, isn't it? But not everyone on the crew is of Welsh origin and we see how Luciano (name's a clue) finds it difficult to fit in and resents his more authentic shipmates. I like this, too. I don't think it's giving too much away to expect different environments in further novels. A space version of the American frontier, for example?

Rhiannon hasn't become a Queen Commander in an entirely traditional way. You might say she's a bit of a cuckoo in the nest. But... she does have leadership qualities. She's charismatic and intelligent. And it's interesting to watch her grasp her way to holding sway over a crew as young and inexperienced and impetuous as she is. Much of the book is taken up with this transition from student to committed starship crew and it's very enjoyable.

There is also another plot strand involving government corruption and espionage. This is fun too, but slightly less well-handled, ending rather abruptly with a whimper rather than a bang. But this a nit pick really, and doesn't detract from the fun in reading this opening story in what promises to be an enjoyable YA space opera series. The pace is smart, the dialogue snappy and there's a character type to appeal to everyone. I liked Alan, the irascible genius and geek, who has chosen this ramshackle hive despite having the connections to have become part of something much more prestigious. You might like lovelorn Luciano or maverick Gavin. Or you might enjoy a strong female character taking the lead more than anything else.

I think Janine Southard has hit on a winning formula here and also that the series as a whole will grow in a way that improves its offer.

You might also enjoy Saturn Returns by Sean Williams or Saturn's Children by Charles Stross.

You can read more about Janine A Southard here.

Bookinterviews.jpg Janine A Southard was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

Buy Queen & Commander (A Hive Queen Novel) by Janine A Southard at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Queen & Commander (A Hive Queen Novel) by Janine A Southard at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Queen & Commander (A Hive Queen Novel) by Janine A Southard at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Queen & Commander (A Hive Queen Novel) by Janine A Southard at Amazon.com.


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