Book Review: Behind the Throne (The Indranan War #1) by K.B. Wagers

Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟(3 stars)
Publisher: Orbit

I was gifted this book by a friend a Christmas or two back, and also its sequel so I'm glad that by the end of this, I was interested in reading the next. It was hard going and quite a slog in the first third owing to the main character Hail and her petulant, self-involved and generally juvenile personality traits (btw, she's 38). She was downright annoying and that sapped most of my sympathy for her plight (pulled back into a royal life after the death of her significant other, three more of her family members are murdered & finding out her mother, the Empress, has a dementia disorder). When you're tired of the whining and whinging of someone who's sustained all that loss, you know they're a hard case. At about the halfway mark, she showed a sign of being worth continuing on reading about which is good, because if not for one moment at a festival ceremony, I'd have quit this book.

Still, I persisted because there were some things that were well done. The setting was intriguing and I found the matriarchy an interesting set up. I found it strange that they'd shed all the paternalistic trappings just to turn around and put men in the same subjugated and discriminated box. It's not progress when sexism is just flipped. That does become one of the things that need addressing in the Empire so I'm all in to see how this all resolves.

I also was extremely interested in the political situation in the Empire but for all the talk around it, there are few details here. It's basically, there are "dire problems" for "reasons" and the focus is shifted to Hail's feelings and favoured banter with her protectors and internal staff. She barely left the palace so the story felt a bit claustrophobic. I had a lot more minor annoyances and eyebrow quirks than I'm going to go into here (I have 4 pages of detailed notes) but in the end, I want to read the next book to see if now that the table has been set, we can get on to the actual meal. Here's hoping.

As much of a Star Wars fangirl as I am, I may not have been the best one for this story. I was never in for Han Solo or Princess Leia, so as this story had no Luke (2.0 edition, aggravated & dark), I never found my access point. If I ignore that as a hook, this is a serviceable enough story with some interesting elements that unfortunately have yet to be capitalized on. Neutral on recommend.

Summary: 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 . . .

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