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Lord of the Night reviews the first book in the Immortal Empire series, God Save the Queen by Kate Locke.
“A fang-tastic start to a series that is sure to improve with every book. Fans of vampires will definitely find a novel to love here.” – The Founding Fields
I first found God Save the Queen when I was searching through Orbit’s publishing future to find out when the next Dresden Files novel is being released, I was checking out a few other novels when I found nothing out of curiosity and I saw the summary for GStQ. A vampiric monarchy ruling England in a modern world yet one that is altered from our own in key ways, which allows for some humourous references, and it was not long before I ordered a copy, and I thoroughly enjoyed this highly unique and fascinating world. Let’s dig into the review.
The year is 2012, but in parts of England it still feels like the early 1900s. It might be because of the architecture, the slang, or because the ruling aristocrats are vampires from those years. Queen Victoria still rules as an undead monarch, with the vampires and werewolves as her adoring servants, and the half-bloods that serve them in the places where humans cannot be trusted anymore. Alexandra ‘Xandra’ Varden is a Royal Guard, she’s also a half-blood and has just been told her sister is dead. But is she? Her family is quick to believe the story, but Xandra does not and is quickly caught up in a conspiracy that threatens to unravel her empire and her own world.
Now the story of this is clearly set to be a series, but at the same time its a novel that tells its own story. I enjoyed the mystery elements to the story quite a bit, but what I really loved was the story that came from the unique parts of this world. The Goblins are definitely my favourite element of this world but Xandra’s personal story is a very close second, I loved her quest to find out the truth behind her sister’s death and the ever-increasing-situation she found herself in as the novel progressed further. I also enjoyed the use of our history and culture to make references, such as the painting by a German artist named Adolf hanging in one character’s house, bearing in mind that WW2 never happened in this novel’s history.
The characters are a fascinating bunch. Xandra Varden is the protagonist and I rather enjoyed her, not just because she’s a woman who can kick ass and doesn’t cower like some fictional women do, but because of the deeper details. She’s bigoted towards humans, most authors writing a novel like this would have their lead character be the human sympathiser who says they aren’t as bad as they seem, but Xandra actually dislikes them as a species and that is a flaw, to us, in her character that to me is interesting. Her character evolution through the novel is also a high point as I really found her new attitude and her actions to be very fun to read, particular what she does to another character in the last few pages, and I look forward to seeing how her character continues to grow in the future novels.
Since this isn’t what I usually review the action scenes aren’t going to be as prevalent as i’m normally used to, but there is still plenty of fighting and blood in GStQ, just not on the same scale that i’m used to. Xandra’s fights are very well done, the coreography of them being easy to follow and her fighting moves clearly explained. Sadly there was not a chance for a vamp or a were to fight at full strength in the novel but i’m hoping that will happen in the next novel. But I did enjoy the personal feel to the fight scenes, there aren’t any of the large scale battles that I adore, but there’s plenty of hand-to-hand fighting and I love that too.
The pacing of the novel is quite good. At first it felt a little slow but this was the novel building itself and the world, as I got further in I began to really get absorbed into the novel and it became harder and harder to put it down. It took me three days to read this novel, I finished it about an hour or so before writing this review. One thing I must also point out, I absolutely loved the accurate British slang lexicon that this novel features. It really felt like the characters were English using words like hatters, shagging, randy, jobbed and other such words. The author really knows what she was doing and I commend her for that, accuracy in books is often put aside when it doesn’t need to be.
Now for my favourite quote, quite a few good ones but none compare to this one,
The ending was quite surprising, I really enjoyed the revelations that were brought into play in the final chapters and the ending, particularly what happened to one character, was very satisfying. The story of this novel wraps up but some plots remain that will continue on into the series, which I will definitely be purchasing. Plenty of elements were introduced, albeit briefly, in the final pages that mean the second novel will be quite different from the first, and I can’t wait to see how.
For a grand and unique world, an enjoyable cast of characters and for the start of a promsing new series I give God Save the Queen a grand score of 8.5/10. This is a novel that I am very glad about purchasing, since i’m very cautious about buying into new series, and I am even gladder that my investment in this first book has paid off so well.
Should you buy this book? If you like vampires and werewolves then I would say that this is a book you should definitely consider, those who like supernatural fiction and different takes on the modern world should also consider the novel. But if neither of those things is what you are interested in then this book is not for you.
With that done my next read will be the Swords of the Emperor duology by Chris Wraight, that is also the end of my reviews for this season. My next review, assuming I don’t review anything else before then, will be Pariah in the next few months. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!