Book Review: Slave, Warrior, Queen

Let me begin by admitting that I was torn on whether or not to write this one. I downloaded a free version of this book a while ago based on the preview, which had captured my interest. Sadly, I was let down when I finally sat down to read it.

Morgan Rice, author of dozens of books, wrote Slave, Warrior, Queen as the first book in her Of Crowns and Glory series. I actually was led to this book at the recommendation of some fellow bloggers at the time, and am a little surprised they enjoyed this book as much as they claim. Considering there are claims Morgan Rice is a best-selling author, I was excited to get my feet wet in her worlds, and am now wondering how that can be true.

Let me start with what I liked.

This story just dives right in. The Main Character is dashing through the street. Her excitement is palpable. Her concern for her brothers, running behind her is endearing. The book is short and incredibly fast paced, so if you are looking for a quick read, this is the one for you.

I also really, really like the cover. Though, as the story progresses, the cover doesn't seem to fit the story, so I am a bit confused by it. Call me crazy, but if a character is going to be on the book cover, it should be the main character doing whatever it is they do. The warrior woman on the cover is clearly not the young woman depicted in the book. And spoiler: nowhere in the book does the MC pick up a bow. She is not an archer. Yes. I really was disappointed by this realization.

Also, huge relief, this book has actually been proofread. Not perfectly, mind you, or professionally, because an editor would surely have caught the major issues I had with this book. However, grammar and spelling were good over all. You will be relieved to know that grammar and spelling were not the things that nearly kept me from finishing the book.

Now, on to the issues I had with this book.

First. Oh. My. Gosh. Morgan Rice literally sprinted through the telling of this story. The story moves so fast you almost have to reread it just to keep up with how fast the story progresses. As a result the timeline seems to be off kilter, or distances are not portrayed with any thought to realistic travel times. I wonder if this was by design in an effort to keep focus off other glaring mistakes. Regardless, she must have sat down and tapped it out in a single sitting. It is that fast paced, and as a result is out of focus.

Second, character development lacked. Partly, because of the pace of the storytelling, and partly just gross neglect, as though Rice didn't know her own characters, not even her main character. That poor girl is supposed to be something special, and yet for all her uniqueness and all the adversity she has overcome, she is weak, shallow, confused, and in constant need of saving, but only when her love interests are in the vicinity. If she's on her own, she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. The flopping back and forth between poor, mistreated, abused child to capable, warrior woman is dizzying. And don't bother trying to get to know the supporting characters who are clearly only there to prop up the MC; they have even less depth.

Third, oh, the plot holes. So many plot holes. I can't get over the numerous, gaping plot holes that actually made me stop, go back, reread, and scour previous pages looking for something I was certain I must have missed. Nope. I didn't miss anything. I don't know if these plot holes are a result of hasty editing, because a couple seem to be a result of something being cut out, but no matter. The result is that if you are paying ANY attention at all, you will find yourself flipping backward as much as you flip forward.

Finally, the way the story ends, I can't help but think Morgan Rice was simply breaking up her larger "epic" into smaller novels in order to make more money. I would not say the story ends on a cliff hanger so much as it just leaves you hanging. Then again, the way the entire book is written, it felt as though it were a second draft that should have had all sorts of notes to add more development here, more description there, more world building all over. ((I also did not appreciate that a large part of the back of the book was blurbs for the next book and a book in another series. If I had paid for this book, that would have just outright ticked me off.))

Slave, Warrior, Queen should have been an incredible tale of a young woman who has conquered her past making her a capable woman ready for the trials she is facing in the present and promised for the future. It should have been a tale of love and loss, pain and joy. It certainly hints at all those things. Sadly, it fails to deliver.

That said, I did finish the book by imposing my own storytelling onto the MC and in the end, I wanted her to succeed. I am definitely not looking for fantasy books to be super deep, to tackle topics of morality or social injustice, or whatever. I enjoy fantasy as a way to escape the world we live in. So I do expect fantasy books to be enveloping and flowing with characters I can believe and get to know.

If you are not a picky fantasy reader, you may still enjoy Slave, Warrior, Queen. I sincerely hope Morgan Rice's other books are better than this one is, but I can honestly say, I will never know. I am just too disappointed.

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