Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers was one of the best debut novels I’ve read and one of my favorite reads of 2016 period. It was with both excitement and trepidation that I started reading the sequel, After the Crown. I needn’t have worried. Now K. B. Wagers has written two of my favorite reads of 2016 and she’s only getting better. I get the same feeling as the first time I opened a book and met Miles Vorkosigan or Honor Harrington. Like Lois McMaster Bujold and David Weber, Wagers has created a character and a universe that I look forward to reading many, many more stories about.
After the Crown picks up events soon after we left them at the end of Behind the Throne. Hail is settling into being empress despite the threats that exist both from within and outside the empire. The court intrigue and disruptions from factions within the empire is intriguing and exciting in its own right, but the story really kicks into high gear when Hail leaves the planet to meet with the King of the Saxon empire and try to avert interplanetary war. Soon after, more bullets start flying and more things start blowing up. This leads to the gunrunner empress proving that her reputation is no joke and that killing her is harder than it looks. Now Hail is on the run and relying on some of her more disreputable connections from her past to win back her empire and get justice for all the friends and family she’s lost.
Wagers writes action scenes like nobody’s business and once things start rolling they keep on rolling until you are out of breath and there are no more pages left to turn. Even better than the action though is the characters. Hail Bristol is one of the best characters I’ve come across in a long time. She is larger than life. She is part Princess Leia and part Han Solo. The cast of characters around her is equally interesting. Emmory and Zin, the trackers turned bodyguards, are great characters, and there are many more among the court, the Indranan military and the government. After the Crown introduces us to more characters from Hail’s past, including her old boss Hao and the infamous Po-Sin.
The Indranan War is one of the best new series to come along in a long time and After the Crown is an outstanding followup to Behind the Throne. Get in on the ground floor of the next great science fiction series. You won’t regret it. Highly recommended.
I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.
Description: Former gunrunner-turned-Empress Hail Bristol was dragged back to her home planet to fill her rightful position in the palace. With her sisters and parents murdered, the Indranan empire is on the brink of war. Hail must quickly make alliances with nearby worlds if she has any hope of surviving her rule.