The Queen of the Raiders


Sarah Kozloff


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

August 12, 2020

he Queen of the Raiders continues the story of Queen Cerúlia, who calls herself Wren, Finch, and Skylark at various points in this novel. Cerúlia is the rightful queen of Weirendale, but she is in hiding from the evil Regent Matwyck, who usurped her mother and now rules in her stead. Matwycks spies and thugs search throughout the Nine Realms for a girl with blue hair; they know she is still alive because the waters in the sacred fountain still flow. Cerúlia disguises her blue hair with dark dye (I assume she dyes her eyebrows too? Wouldn't the hairs on her arms give them a faint blue tinge?) and assumes various personalities (thus all the different bird names). I don't remember if a reason was offered, but Cerúlia has decided to join a band of desperate Free State Raiders who have ventured into Oromondo and are wreaking havoc upon the Oromondo nation.

In book 1 of Nine Realms, the armies from Oromondo swept through Melladrin and invaded the Free States. The ruthless Oromondo pillage the foodstuffs from the Free State farmers and send the food back to Oromondo - Oromondo has a critical food shortage because its land is poisoned and the population is starving. The Oromondo crops are failing because the extensive mining activities have brought toxic heavy metals to the surface, and these mine tailings have been allowed to carelessly seep into the waterways of Oromondo.

In this book, Free State scholar Thalen is determined to strike back at the conqueroring Oromondo. Thalen recruits a band of 25 fighters to invade Oromondo. Thalen desires to cause such panic in the Oromondo homeland that the invading army will be force to depart the Free States and march home to put down the guerillas, and maybe that will be enough to allow the remaining Free State soldiers to rise up against the remnant of the occupying forces. After recruiting, planning and training, Thalen gathers his supplies and sets sail to Oromondo. His band of raiders begin taking action. There is a lot of adventure. They know it is probably a suicide mission, but they hope to inflict as much pain upon the Oromondo homeland as possible before their end.

Cerúlia is as enjoyable character in this book as she was in a previous entry. Cerúlia is determined and smart and remains a likeable character with her kindness and willingness to help others. She journeys through various situations, through wilderness and uncertain landscapes. Her ability to communicate with animals is now strong - she can communicate at a distance with birds and beasts, and all the animals call her "Your Majesty" and help her out as best they can. Eventually, she makes her way to Thalen's raiders, and begins to use her unique animal communication skills as an immense source of aid to effectiveness to the raids.

Characterization seems to be Kozloff's best talent. There are some tangent stories involving minor characters, and Kozloff appears to spend as much effort portraying these people as on the main characters. Presumably these side events will tie into the larger story in the last two books of the quartet. The plot of the Queen of the Raiders is clearly part of the larger arc, it is clear that Kozloff has written the entire 4 book story as one long story. This book ends with a dramatic moment, obviously enticing the reader to get the next one. I hope I can get my hands on the next book soon. Halfway through, this has been an entertaining story. I hope the next two volumes match the level of these first two.