This debut series from K.B. Wagers continues to surprise and impress me with her story-telling ability and political intrigue on a level that most established authors don’t even have. In the first book, Behind the Throne, Hail comes back to her homeland to become the leader of her people after being away for 20 years as a gun-runner. In After the Crown, a war with a rival civilization, and people that want to oust her as leader creates a much more adventure packed story as we get to meet a lot of Hail’s old gun-runner friends. The great political intrigue from Behind the Throne is present but the number of characters is basically doubled in After the Crown with more action.
I think that readers of political intrigue science fiction and space opera type stories would enjoy these two books. There are some similarities between this series and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series at times, mostly the pace. Wagers does a great job of keeping things interesting and moving along with her stories without much down time. She also explores the interpersonal relationships between Hail and her subordinates like Brown does with his characters. I just really like a lot of the characters in this story. I could probably name about 10 characters that I enjoy because Wagers focuses so much on the friendships and that is what I love to read.
I feel that After the Crown is a little less polished than Behind the Throne and my main concern about her work. Even though I knew everything that was going on there were times during dialogues where I got a little confused with who was saying what. There are so many characters involved in these governments and militaries that I would be lying if I knew every person that they talked about. In fact, when certain characters died, I had to remind myself who that character even was. I also think that the antagonist gets a little murky here and there at times because of the multiple amounts of people against Hail. I think if the book focused a little more on Wilson, one of the main antagonists, it would have felt a little more clear. Also, this isn’t a science fiction book that will blow you away by its concepts, it is purely a space opera.
Overall, I think this is a solid second book in her series. I’ve enjoyed both books very much. I am still loving the India-based culture and the decision-making by the main character. With a lot of books I can never tell if a man or woman is writing the book but with these books, I can definitely tell it is a woman writer. The reason I can tell it is a woman writer is because the decisions and actions by the main character are usually not the options I would choose as a man. Her choices make complete sense and Wagers writes this book that keeps surprising me by using female logic to solve problems that sometimes I would never think about and I appreciate that.
I hope to read a lot more from K.B. Wagers in the future. Along with Becky Chambers, I think she is one of the most impressive new female science fiction writers out there. She just tells a great story, with great characters, that care about each other.
16/25 Possible Score
4 – Plot
4 – Characters
3 – World Building
3 – Writing Style
2 – Heart & Mind Aspect
It took me 8hrs and 18m to read this book at a pace of 46.8 pages per hour, so it was a rather quick read for me.