119. The Golden Queen by David Farland
Publication: David Farland (October 4, 2011), originally published 1994 by Tor, ebook, 318pp
Genre: Sci-fi (with fantasy elements)
Read: July 6, 2012
Summary from Amazon:
When Gallen O’Day is hired to as a bodyguard to escort a young woman through the woods to the forbidden ruins at Geata Na Chruinn, it seems like an ordinary job—but all too soon, he finds himself fleeing for his life from creatures that seem like escapees from a nightmare—the alien dronon, led by their golden queen. With his best friend, a genetically engineered talking bear named Orick, and his girlfriend Maggie, Gallen soon finds himself tangled in an interstellar war that he never knew existed, racing across a host of worlds, confronted by a future unlike any that he had ever imagined.
There’s a term for sci-fi stories that’ve got fantasy elements in them (and vice-versa), but I can’t remember it at the moment so its a moot point. But whatever that term is, that’s what this book is. It’s SO sci-fi I nearly got lost a few times in the technological stuff, but luckily there were enough infodumps in here that I could keep up for most of it. The fantasy-ish elements balanced the sci-fi bits out nicely, although they weren’t overt enough to actually make this an actual fantasy book.
So here’s the thing: I hate Everynne. She’s not a Mary Sue, but she’s definitely some kind of trope-y character that disgusts me, and I think that’s what’s messing me up about this book. Even her NAME is stupid, for Pete’s sake.
She’s been frickin’ biologically engineered to make people fall in love with her. She’s weepy and nobley depressed and everyone admires her for reasons unknown. She even says that she has no positive characteristics for being queen of the universe (paraphrasing, here) and she spends the entirety of the book doing nothing but running from place to place. And she’s somehow the heroine? I dislike being told to admire someone who I have no reason to admire, especially since the other main female character, Maggie, is ACTUALLY admirable. I also dislike characters having no personality, and Everynne doesn’t seem to get one1 until the end of the book.
Maggie, unlike Everynne, actually DOES have traits that’d make her a good queen. Her personality is multi-layered! She’s an interesting person, although compared to Everynne anyone would be interesting. She goes through Big Shit during the book, but she handles it in a way that’s realistic. She takes action. She makes decisions and follows through with them. Maybe she pities herself a little, but she doesn’t collapse into tears and expect other people to pick her up.
The male characters– eh. Gallen kind of reminds me of a Irish mythological sort of character (he’s even got strong wrists and long blond hair), and Everynne’s bodyguard is one of those creepy old dudes who should have retired from their job a while ago. Orick, the talking bear, is more likable than either of them, though I wouldn’t necessarily want him to be my friend.
Since the plot is mostly about getting Everynne back on the intergalatic throne, you’d think I’d have given up on this book pretty early. Not so! There’s enough subplots and non-Everynne stuff to keep anyone interesting, including Maggie’s adventures. The story also moves relatively quickly, so even if a scene with Everynne is like looking into the abyss, at least it passes soon.
The idea of humanity spreading throughout the universe and then meeting an alien species that disagrees with our wanting to do that spreading is, I think, not very new. But it IS unusual– most of the sci-fi I read either has only humans in the universe (no aliens), or it has humans somewhere near the top of the foodchain. A book that sticks them somewhat lower down is interesting, because it makes me think about what would happen if I was living under an alien overlord. Would I fight back? Would I put up with it? Not sure, really.
So let’s sum up. I strongly dislike Everynne. Maggie almost makes up for her. The male characters are all mostly un-disgusting. The plot is interesting and fast-paced. And I’d read the next book in the series, if only to see if New and Improved Everynne is, actually, improved.
I liked it, mostly.
Couldn’t find any recent ones. Have you read/reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link to your post here!
The author’s photo comes from author’s website. It’s not mine! Book cover comes from Amazon. It’s not mine, either.
- or at least, she doesn’t get one that I LIKE. Big distinction, that. ↩