Title: God Save the Queen
Author: Kate Locke
Genre: Steampunk/Urban Fantasy
Series: The Immortal Empire (Book 1)
Publication Date: July 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
ISBN-10: 0316196226 (Orbit)
ISBN-13: 978-0316196123 (Orbit)
Reviewed by: Kristie
Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist.
The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.
Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.
Quick & Dirty: Good start to a new series with superior worldbuilding and a heroine that is only worried about her own kickbuttness that she can come off foul-mouthed and brash.
Opening Sentence: I hate goblins.
Alexandra Vardan is a Halvie, half vampire/half human and she has a hate for many things. She hates goblins ever since she was attacked as a child plus goblins love to eat meat (humans/halvies/vampires/werewolves). She hates Bedlam asylum because that is where her mother died when she was young and most especially she hates humans, they want nothing more than to see her kind dead. Unfortunately for her she will have to deal with at least two of those things as the book progresses. God Save the Queen opens with Xandra in the tunnels under London looking for the Goblin Prince. The goblins know everything and so she seeks their knowledge. Her sister Dede has disappeared and she needs to know what has happened to her. She finds out that her sister has been arrested and taken to Bedlam. Everything would be so much better if her family would tell her these things, then she wouldn’t have had to risk her life in the goblin tunnels.
Xandra wants to get Dede out of Bedlam. She tries to come up with a plan to get her out but is then hit with shocking news: Her sister is dead. Xandra refuses to believe the news as she undertakes a personal mission to discover the truth about her sister and Bedlam. But her mission discovers more of the truth about herself and her people, Halvies, that just blows her world apart, everything that she has been taught are lies. While all of this is happening, she begins to develop a relationship with an aristocrat werewolf, Vex MacLaughlin.
God Save the Queen has a lot of worldbuilding. While fantastic and entertaining as the book goes on, it is a little overwhelming at first. The Plague has created supernaturals as a side effect. Pure supernaturals are called Aristocrats, they hold titles and power. The Queen of England, Victoria, is a vampire. Aristocrats have very low birth rates and some of them have paid courtesans into being birth mothers. Many Halvies are born this way, but Goblins are a dangerous side effect which is another complication of how the Plague has developed and passed down through the years. This paragraph cannot do justice for how complicated this Plague is, thankfully, there is a glossary at the end of the book that explains how everything works.
Xandra is a tough, foulmouthed, kick butt character. She is often impetuous and hot-headed. She is also very stubborn which puts her in the position she is in, having to decide what is true or not. As a Royal Guard she is tasked with protecting Aristocrats with her life. It is one of the things she most values in her life and she has trained hard to be as tough as she can. She was at the top of her class. She values her teacher Church (otherwise known as Churchill) and the lessons he has taught her. She also really loves her family even though they are only related by one parent’s blood. God Save the Queen is told entirely from Xandra’s point of view.
God Save the Queen is classified as a steampunk/urban fantasy. Since London has been ruled for so long under Queen Victoria a lot of the technology has stayed industrial. A lot of the Aristocrats still drive using horse and carriage but other technology has advanced as well. The clothing and vehicles are pretty much the only thing that really comes off as steampunk. I would have loved to see more of this technology integrated into the story, especially the dirigibles. Although, once again there is a glossary at the back of the book that defines the technology and some of the British terms.
Overall, God Save the Queen was a satisfactory read. It took me a little bit to understand the Aristocracy/Halvie/Plague as it stood in the storyline but once I did, the last half of the book rushed by. Now that the world has been established, I would like to see where the next book takes Xandra and the revelations that she has uncovered.
I met his gaze evenly. He looked genuinely concerned and I felt like a cad for lying to him. I wanted to tell him how sorry I was. “They were, thank you. Sir, I . . .” I heard something that drew my attention, smelled something that brought my fangs out fast and hard – fear.
I whirled around. The orchestra still played, the dancers continued to dance. Conversation buzzed around us, but my attention went immediately to the one thing that didn’t belong.
Up on the balcony. A human with a rifle – pointed at the Queen.
“Gun!” I yelled, my voice seeming to reverberate around me. As I leapt forward, I was aware of several things at once: the music screeching to a halt, the discharge of the rifle, screams, and how sweet that human bastard smelled.
How the bloody hell could I smell him from where I was?
I moved faster than I ever had before – or at least I seemed to. One moment I was beside Church; the next I crashed to the floor, my shoulder exploding with pain as I took the Queen with me.
I sucked in air, forced myself to reach for the Bulldog hidden in my bustle. Hot blood ran down my left arm. I’d been shot. Damnation, it hurt. Felt like my shoulder was on fire. My head and stomach churned in opposite rotations.
Tetracycline. Fang me, there was tetracycline in the bullet. And the bullet was silver. It had gone straight through – luckily for me. It still hurt like hell.
“Your Majesty, are you all right?” I demanded, positioning myself so I wouldn’t drip blood on her. Plague me, even my eyes burned.
“Quite,” she replied, looking both shocked and relieved. “Young lady, you are most extraordinary.”
The Immortal Empire Series:
2. The Queen is Dead (February 5, 2013)
FTC Advisory: Orbit/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of God Save the Queen. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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