Heaven's Queen

Rachel Bach
Heaven's Queen Cover

Heaven's Queen


** spoiler alert ** I'm frustrated with this book. The first book in this trilogy blindsided me with how good it was. I had expected trashy fluff, and gotten some great mysteries, complex characters and interesting scenarios. Plus, well-written fight scenes, which are pretty rare. The second was just as good, with the tension amped to the max and a hell of a lot more fighting.

This one feels like a different series, in that the romance seems to dominate. It was a heavy strand in the first book, less so in the second but still important. This one, I wanted to punch Deviana, and her love interest, Rupert, in the face every time they repeated themselves. Some minor, but not plot breaking spoilers to follow.

So we carry on the will-they-won't-they dance in this book, despite the fact any reader knows they bloody will. Deviana goes on and on about how her love is weakness and she hates weakness, but jesus christ. It was repeated every 50 pages or so, it felt like. It doesn't help that the majority of the first 2/3 of the novel are spent with only Devi and Rupert. Rupert, who constantly repeats that she should stay away because he's dangerous, and then that he'll never leave her, and then insisting that he leaves her because of the danger he puts her in. I wanted to shake some sense into these guys. Pull yourself together. For two people who are meant to be professional and take no shit, they don't half take shit from each other.

I feel like I wouldn't have mnded, if it didn't mean Devi ended up thinking near-constantly about Rupert, and if they were some kind of Bechdel test for couples talking of nothing but their relationships (and everyone else in the book is very concerned about it too), this would have only narrowly passed. I'm probably exaggerating, but it really got to me, unfortunately.

This leads on to another annoyance about this book - everyone talks so much. Endless exposition and rehashing of old debates and disagreements. Major spoiler, but near the end, as they go to free Maat, they have about five minutes before the security cameras recover. So what do our main characters do? They hold up in an ammunition closet so that a) Devi can explain exactly what she is doing and then b) so Brenton and Rupert can go over the fact they hate each other, and exactly why they hate each other. Fuck me, I could not care less about this, and they shouldn't either when they are going on a potential suicide mission, and cutting their chances substantially by standing around like idiots.

And another thing - Devi hates being told what to do, but by christ her attitude towards Brenton and Rupert irked me in this book, particularly in Brenton's macho bloody self-sacrifice. Let him have it, Devi. How else is your plan going to work?

Look, I enjoyed the book well enough, especially closer to the end when we meet the emperor phantom, when the major fight and escape scenes happen etc. I'm sad Hyrek turned out to be a massive dick because I was quite found of he/r. Not enough of the Fool team either, because damn did I miss them. It's just a shame it got so bogged down with the romance. I'm glad I read this series, and it ended strongly, if not a little too perfectly.

Bits I dId like: As I said, the emperor phantom, the realisation of corruption amongst the lelgis, and their cowardice, the pirate planet (particularly the interactions in the ship field), Devi meeting an old Blackbird colleague, and all the fight scenes. Bach is very good at fight scenes. Oh, and tension during the break in of the Dark Star station. I will try and get around to her fantasy work under her Aaron moniker, and hope she comes up with a new series in the Paradox/Terran universe. It's a cool world, especially the cultural aspects, and the structure of the Paradoxian parts of the universe/the living saint etc.