The Hundredth Queen is the first installment of The Hundredth Queen series by Emily R. King.
Kalinda wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her days in the peaceful mountain temple she grew up in, but before she can swear her loyalty to the Sisterhood, she must be passed over during the rite. With a history of fevers that can keep her bedridden for weeks, Kalinda never thought she would be claimed.
When Rajah Tarek visits, looking for his final rani, Kalinda’s life is turned upside down and within just a few hours, she is chosen to be the rajah’s wife and is headed to his home. To make matters worse, she learns that she is expected to compete against the rajah’s ninety-nine other wives and however many courtesans choose to challenge her.
The only aspect of Kalinda’s new life that is not miserable is her new found friendship with her guard, Captain Deven Naik, but when her feelings move into dangerous ground, she risks not only her life but his as well. Kalinda’s only hope for escape from the tyrant who wants to marry her lies deep within her, in a power she never knew she had. Will Kalinda be able to escape the Rajah’s castle safely or will she lose everyone she has ever cared for in the process?
I really enjoyed this book. I think that is very different from the majority of novels that are out right now. Maybe it’s not as different as I think and I am just not reading the right books, but either way, it doesn’t really matter. I think King did a good job when writing this novel.
At the beginning of the novel, there is a note from King stating that the religion and kingdom are based on real cultures, but that there are also aspects that she made up. When I first picked up the book, this bothered me, but after I finished it, I understand King was just trying to ensure that she did not offend anyone throughout the course of the book.
With that said, I have no idea how much of this culture was based on the real world and how much was fiction, but I loved it. I loved the idea of the rajah having a hundred wives plus courtesans, but there was a limit placed upon him. I loved the fact that the women were the warriors, but not the soldiers. The amount of worldbuilding in this book was impressive, but I was also left wanting more. As there are three more books, hopefully, I will get that.
Kalinda is my kind of character. She is willing to do whatever it takes to protect those she loves. While I like the righteous characters who only want what is best for the world, I love the characters who do everything they do for the ones they love, not the whole world. It is so much more relatable. Kalinda is strong, but she is also ordinary. She wanted nothing more than to have a peaceful life, but of course, she gets the exact opposite.
I think my biggest problem with this book was how fast Kalinda and Deven fell for each other. I did not feel like Deven put up much of a fight at all. While he did tell her no a few times and pushed her away, he continuously put himself in dangerous situations and he pulled her to him just as much as she pulled him in. For a soldier or guard, it would have made more sense for Deven to fight it a bit more. Plus, it was like zero to a hundred. There was no “falling” part. It went from strangers to in love instantly.
As for the writing itself, I have seen better and I have seen worse. It wasn’t the most impressive writing I have ever seen, but there was nothing wrong with it. I felt like it flowed nicely and was concise. I never felt like it was dragging or boring. The level was that of an easy read, which is honestly what I prefer.
Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I think that this was a really impressive debut novel for King and I recommend this to anyone looking for a unique take on fantasy.