Kalinda may have escaped the clutches of her tyrant husband in The Hundredth Queen, but she really comes into her own as a warrior queen and protector in The Fire Queen.
About ‘The Fire Queen
In the second book in The Hundredth Queen Series, Emily R. King once again follows a young warrior queen’s rise to meet her destiny in a richly imagined world of sorcery and forbidden powers.
Though the tyrant rajah she was forced to marry is dead, Kalinda’s troubles are far from over. A warlord has invaded the imperial city, and now she’s in exile. But she isn’t alone. Kalinda has the allegiance of Captain Deven Naik, her guard and beloved, imprisoned for treason and stripped of command. With the empire at war, their best hope is to find Prince Ashwin, the rajah’s son, who has promised Deven’s freedom on one condition: that Kalinda will fight and defeat three formidable opponents.
But as Kalinda’s tournament strengths are once again challenged, so too is her relationship with Deven. While Deven fears her powers, Ashwin reveres them—as well as the courageous woman who wields them. Kalinda comes to regard Ashwin as the only man who can repair a warring world and finds herself torn between her allegiance to Deven and a newly found respect for the young prince.
With both the responsibility to protect her people and the fate of those she loves weighing heavily upon her, Kalinda is forced again to compete. She must test the limits of her fire powers and her hard-won wisdom. But will that be enough to unite the empire without sacrificing all she holds dear?
‘The Fire Queen’ review
I confess: I haven’t been waiting months and months for The Fire Queen because I actually didn’t read The Hundredth Queen until I had a copy of The Fire Queen in my hands.
That being said, if I were to have waited for The Fire Queen, it definitely would’ve been worth the wait. This novel takes everything you love about the first novel in the series and expands on its most emotional aspects.
What do I mean by that, exactly? Well, while there is a lot of action that goes on during this novel (including a sort of Goblet of Fire-esque series of trials, which I’ll get to in a minute), the most poignant and important parts of this novel are the relationships that blossom and grow.
While we (very, very) sadly don’t get a lot of interactions between Kalinda and Deven in this sequel because they’re sadly separated for most of it, we do see a lot of development between characters who were just acquaintances in the first novel. For instance, the growing relationship between Kalinda and her former “sister” Natesa is one that would’ve seemed unheard of in the first book but feels so natural in this sequel. And then there’s the relationship between Natesa and her guard Yatin which becomes even more adorable over the course of the book.
In addition to building relationships between characters we already care about, author Emily King does a great job in introducing memorable new characters in The Fire Queen. While there are quite a few in the novel that are a force to be reckoned with (especially one that has a sort of explosive entrance toward the end), Prince Ashwin (the rajah’s son) and Indah (one of Kalinda’s new competitors) feel like they always belonged in the story. They become so much a part of Kalinda’s life and circle of confidantes that, by the end, you’ll forget that they weren’t a part of the first novel.
While the relationships and interactions between characters in this novel are top notch, the action is just alright. The trials that Kalinda and her competitors have to go through are interesting enough in and of themselves, but the reasoning for why they need to go through them is a little fuzzy. That and with all of the woman-on-woman fighting that happened in the first novel, it was a little disheartening to see it again (this time with women 100% fighting for a man rather than to try to just improve their quality of life, like in the first book).
That being said, the trials really bring out a different sort of competitiveness in the women than the tournament did. This time around, the women aren’t only great fighters but they’re also all bhutas, each with a different power. So the fact that they’re all fighting with inherent gifts and extensions of themselves adds a level of ferocity and intensity to every action scene.
Other aspects of this book that make it a contender for the top of your ya novels to-read pile are Deven’s storyline (which involves him interacting with a few members of his former guard) and the explosive ending. Deven’s chapters (by the way, did you know that this book switches between Deven and Kalinda’s points of view?) are emotionally rich and tense, but also tender and heartwarming at times. And the ending? Imagine the climax of your favorite Disney movie where the villain has risen at 10x their normal size and everything is going their way… I won’t say any more than that, but it’s THAT exciting.
If you’re a fan of The Hundredth Queen, rest assured that The Fire Queen is definitely its equal. It’s just as fascinating, heartbreaking, and exciting as the first novel, if not moreso thanks to the continued world-building.
And if you haven’t read The Hundredth Queen? Well, you’re going to want to rectify that ASAP so that you can crack open The Fire Queen.