Published: August 2, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 413 (Paperback)
My Rating: 3.5/5.0
Meet Hail: Captain. Gunrunner. Fugitive.
Quick, sarcastic, and lethal, Hailimi Bristol doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She has made a name for herself in the galaxy for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan Empire. That is, until two Trackers drag her back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir.
But trading her ship for a palace has more dangers than Hail could have anticipated. Caught in a web of plots and assassination attempts, Hail can’t do the one thing she did twenty years ago: run away. She’ll have to figure out who murdered her sisters if she wants to survive.
A gun smuggler inherits the throne in this Star Wars-style science fiction adventure from debut author K. B. Wagers. Full of action-packed space opera exploits and courtly conspiracy – not to mention an all-out galactic war – Behind the Throne will please fans of James S. A Corey, Becky Chambers and Lois McMaster Bujold, or anyone who wonders what would happen if a rogue like Han Solo were handed the keys to an empire . . .
Behind the Throne was a book that I had to do in audio format due to a lack of time to read physical books. I wish I had read a physical book because the audio version is read by a narrator who seems to actually have a British type accent, not an Indian one. It felt forced and was really kind of painful to listen to. Aside from this, I rather liked the book.
Behind the Throne is the story of Hail Bristol, who has been a gun runner for the last two decades of her life, but after the deaths of her sisters is forced to come home and perform her role as heir to the Indranan empire. Hail is extremely capable of not only protecting herself, but dealing with difficult situations, and negotiating with people that are as likely to kill you as they are to deal with you. Her unorthodox resume has in reality, made her the perfect heir for a kingdom in crisis. Hail DOES NOT want this role, but she comes to accept her responsibility and for that I respect her. Two of her closest bodyguards, Zin and Emmory are extremely likable characters and I do think there’s some well concealed sexual tension between Emmory and Hail, though I haven’t quite decided if anything will come of it in the sequel. The great thing about adult fantasy is that it doesn’t always turn into some gushy, ridiculous relationship!
There’s plenty of action in Behind the Throne, but it’s one of those books where everybody talks about everything. The plus here is that the reader understands a broad history of the empire, the political climate, relationships with foreign empires, and what each and every character thinks of everything. In this respect, Behind the Throne is similar to The Goblin Emperor, which I loved. There’s nothing wrong with lots of dialogue in books, but it has to be meaningful! KB Wagers managed to pull this off, but seriously, if Hail Bristol reminded anyone that she used to be a gunrunner ONE MORE TIME, I was about to throw my headphones through the air.
Behind the Throne was surprisingly entertaining despite my criticisms and eventually I plan on reading the sequel as well. I think the series holds considerable potential, considering there were some open ends and clear segues for further plot development. This is a sci-fi book, but don’t let that scare you off if it isn’t your usual genre. It’s not hard science fiction with loads of technical terms, merely set in a futuristic society set on another planet.