The Rogue Queen, the third (and, notably, NOT final) novel in Emily R. King’s The Hundredth Queen series, is here and spoiler alert: It’s great!
About ‘The Rogue Queen’ by Emily R. King
Despite the odds, Kalinda has survived it all: Marriage to a tyrant. Tournaments to the death. The forbidden power to rule fire. The icy touch of a demon.
That same demon now disguises itself as Rajah Tarek, Kalinda’s late husband and a man who has never stopped haunting her. Upon taking control of the palace and the army, the demon brands Kalinda and her companions as traitors to the empire. They flee across the sea, seeking haven in the Southern Isles.
In Lestari, Kalinda’s powers are not condemned, as they are in her land. Now free to use them to protect those she loves, Kalinda soon realizes that the demon has tainted her with a cold poison, rendering her fire uncontrollable. But the lack of control may be just what she needs to send the demon back to the darkest depths of the Void.
To take back the empire, Kalinda will ally with those she distrusts — and risk losing those most loyal to her—to defeat the demon and bring peace to a divided nation.
‘The Rogue Queen’ review
I need to confess something upfront: I made the mistake of reading The Rogue Queen with the expectation that it was last book of the trilogy. I didn’t even stop to think that there was a chance that this series wasn’t a trilogy just because of the flow of the previous books.
My friends, this is not the end. Not even close.
The Rogue Queen picks up almost right where The Fire Queen left off, give or take a few days. We don’t miss much in those few days and get to jump right back into the story like we never left (which I love).
With our heroes being on the move again, The Rogue Queen introduces us to interesting new characters unlike others we’ve met before. But the book doesn’t delve too much into them. Just enough to give us a clear picture of them, with the unspoken promise that we’ll see them again to learn more.
And speaking of seeing characters again, The Rogue Queen is like one big reunion. The Hundredth Queen series does not forget any of the characters (major or minor) that it has introduced to us in the past. In fact, I think just about every character that Kali and Deven have relationships with come back in this novel, sometimes in pretty big ways. It’s really fun to see all of these people again, especially all of Kali’s fierce lady compatriots.
On the other hand, however, the characters didn’t come together enough for my liking. The Fire Queen was practically defined by the major character separations that happened, which was fine. But, in this book, just when you think all of your faves are together again for good, they separate again and remain that way for a large chunk of time. I love these characters so much and I’m fascinated by the world that they live in that I just want to see them discovering it and problem-solving their way through their issues together.
As a result of this extended separation, there’s sadly far less romance in this installment than in the previous ones. Because these books’ chapters give both Kali and Deven’s perspectives on what’s going on, it’s not really a spoiler to confirm that these two are apart for most of the novel. They each go through their own trials, but, given the circumstances, they don’t think of or pine after each other as much as I had hoped. And when they are together, their interactions are pretty short-lived and unsatisfying (save for one steamy one). Speaking of unsatisfying, the end is devastating for Kali and Deven shippers. I won’t give anything away, but I can guarantee you won’t be ready for it.
All I want is Kali and Deven’s happiness! Is that too much to ask?! (Probably. At least for now. But my wanting this is also a clear sign of how much Emily R. King has made me care about her characters, which is definitely a good thing.)
But the separation of characters (and the resulting lack of romance) is really my only complaint about this book — and it’s a fairly small one. The new issues with bhuta powers and soul fire, as well as the consequences of the wish Ashwin made when setting the demon free in the previous book, definitely make up for the separation. It’s the way that The Rogue Queen exposes new angles on established ideas and stories (rather than throwing brand new elements in the mix) that make it a really enjoyable novel.
I love seeing things I thought I knew in new lights and from new perspectives. For instance, Kali returns to an important place from her past and it feels entirely different from the last time we were there with her. Different, but not foreign. There are so many details like this that a re-read of the entire series (once it’s all out there) would be fascinating.
However, I don’t think a re-read would make the end of this book any less of a surprise. I thought I knew where this series was going throughout the first two novels, but the end of the third seemingly takes it in a new and unexpected direction. That being said, the clues for the new adventure in the fourth book are hinted at and teased throughout The Rogue Queen. And yet, when the story turn happens, it will surely catch you off-guard (in the best way possible).
The Rogue Queen feels very much like the middle book of a series — which makes total sense because it is — but it has a really solid story that sets up an interesting path for the conclusion. It has the perfect amount of action and strategic planning, as well as a healthy dose of female empowerment. Fans of the series certainly won’t be disappointed with this new installment and, by the end of it, will be cheering “Bring on The Warrior Queen!”