Behind the Throne – K. B. Wagers

About the Book

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.

413 pages (paperback)
Published on August 2, 2016
Published by Orbit
Author’s webpage
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This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Behind the Throne is one of those novels that I dashed through really, really quickly. It’s an easy book to sink into and enjoy. The writing is accessible, the plot is fast moving and absorbing.

Behind the Throne starts with an action packed scene with Hailimi, our protagonist, who was once a princess of the Indranan Empire, is now an infamous gunrunner, fugitive, and all around freelancing woman who lives life on the edge and lives life by her own rules. She’s found by some trackers sent to bring her back to her family, where she learns that she’s suddenly inheriting the throne due to a series of incredibly unfortunate events.

While there is action throughout the novel, it’s mostly concentrated at the start and end of the book. The rest of the book really focused on family dynamics, and political drama. That isn’t to say that there isn’t plenty of action throughout the book, it’s just a different kind of action than I expected.

This story is told through a first person perspective, so readers are right on the front row while all the action unfolds, and Wagers has a really evocative, emotionally packed way of writing that brings everything to vibrant life for readers. You don’t miss a thing, and while Wagers has a tendency to over-dramatize or turn things a little purple, the writing style really works well to suck a reader in and really punch them with the intensity, both physical and emotional, of the story being told.

In my mind, this book is really focused more on family dynamics and personal growth and exploration more than any intergalactic exploration, space battles, and wham-bam action. While that does exist in the novel, the real tension and growing pains are felt as Hail tries to find her place in palace life, despite the twenty years she spent as a fugitive gunrunner.

While that might make some readers a bit reluctant to actually read this book, I don’t want it to put you off at all. The action is a bit different than you might expect, and I think comparing this novel to Star Wars is a misnomer in some respects, but it is quite an intense, riveting story that I couldn’t put down no matter how hard I tried.

And the truth is, I can see that this series is building up to all that Star Wars style action. Behind the Throne was riveting, but it is obviously the precursor to all that stuff that people will probably expect to find in this book (and only actually see it more concentrated toward the end). The ending nicely wrapped things up, and hinted at some of what is probably going to come next. I was left with the very real sense that space battles are in the future. With the time and effort spent to build the empire, family dynamics, and Hail’s efforts to figure out who she was before all those space battle erupt, the rest of the series promises to be incredible. All good series need a detailed, strong foundation to build on, and Behind the Empire is exactly that, a solid foundation for all the wonderful things about to come.

To sum things up, Behind the Empire was a shockingly absorbing book with an addicting plot and a protagonist whose voice gripped me from page one. It wasn’t what I expected it to be, but the politics and family dynamics were just as interesting as any space battles. The emotions got a little over-the-top at points, and sometimes the prose turned a bit purple, but that was easy to overlook in favor of the gripping plot and dynamic empire building taking place.


4/5 stars

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