Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kate Locke - God Save The Queen :)


God Save the Queen (The Immortal Empire, #1)
    Author:  Kate Locke                            
 Plot Type: UF, HIS
                                                                                         Ratings:  V4; S4; H3
Publisher and Titles: 
  God Save the Queen (7/2012)
  The Queen Is Dead (2/2013)


     The series is set in an alternate London that, contrary to some reviews, is not a  steampunk world. Although there is some gadgetry, not a single steam-driven or gear-powered device shows up in the entire first book. The story takes place in kind of retro-2012, where a modified and slightly updated 19th century culture predominates and Queen Victoria (a vampire) is still on the British throne, celebrating her 175th anniversary as queen. In this mythology, vampires and werewolves are called Aristocrats. This supernatural Aristocracy developed gradually over the centuries in Europe as a direct consequence of the Black Death, which released bacterial DNA into the cells of its victims. This resulted in the development of the Prometheus Protein, which allows the body to repair injured tissues and to initiate regenerative reactions that give enhanced humans and Aristocrats their special traits and talents. In this world, there are several different types of enhanced individuals: 
>   Enhanced humans, who are stronger and live longer than regular humans 
>   Vampires, who can heal themselves quickly, live extremely long lives, are immune to most diseases and poisons, and are very sensitive to the sun 
>   Weres, who can transform into exceptionally strong and fast animal form; have enhanced scent detection, night vision, and hearing; are immune to most diseases; but are susceptible to some poisons 
>   Goblins, who are born of a vampire and a were, have the traits of both vampires and weres, are even more sensitive to light than vamps, and are the strongest creatures in the supernatural world. The goblins are looked down upon and feared by humans and by the rest of the supernatural world.
>   Halvies are born of a human mother and an Aristocrat father. They inherit the abilities of the male parent. Courtesans (human women who are deemed fit to give birth to Aristocratic children) live in brothels visited by Aristocrat males who want to father children. The children are raised by their mothers in the brothel until they are old enough to attend the Academy, where they are educated and trained to be protectors of the Aristocracy. 
     All of the Aristocrats are extremely allergic to silver. The author includes two sections at the end of the book that you might want to read before you begin the story: "Understanding the Aristocracy," which explains the origins and characteristics of vampires, werewolves, and goblins, and "Glossary," which defines specific terms that are used frequently throughout the story.

     This world is similar to the present-day world in many ways, but there are differences. For example, mobile phones have rotary dials; horse-drawn carriages compete for space with mechanized carriages; and clothing styles are a mix of Victorian and modern-day fashion. Historical characters make appearances, although they are very different from their real-life counterparts. 

        BOOK 1: God Save the Queen        
     The heroine is Alexandra (Zandra) Vardan, a halvie whose father is the vampire Duke Vardan, a cold, power-obsessed man who has fathered three other halvie children by different mothers. Zandra's mother was taken from her when she was quite younghauled off to Bedlam (an insane asylum) where she supposedly died. Zandra has always feared that she, too, will eventually succumb to madness. Currently, 20-something Zandra is a highly skilled soldier and an officer in the Royal Guard, which provides security for the Royal family and other Aristocrats. 

     As the story opens, Zandra's sister, Drusilla (Dede) is missing. Zandra learns that Dede has been confined to Bedlam after attacking her Aristocratic former lover, but before Zandra can track her down, the news comes that Dede has killed herself. The main story thread follows Zandra as she refuses to believe that Dede is really dead and tries to prove it. Her adventures take her into many dangerous situations involving traitorous Aristocrats, murderous revolutionaries (both supernatural and human), and dark secrets about her own genetic heritage. She also meets and falls for Vexation (Vex) MacLaughlin, the tall, sexy werewolf who is the alpha for all of the UK werewolves.

     Both the mythology and the plot are very complex, and the author uses a less-than-graceful information dump approach to adding it to the text. This is a book that cries out for a prologue, which would have provided a proper introduction to the mythology without interfering with the flow of the story. If you can make yourself stick with it, the story will eventually draw you in, but getting through the bits and pieces of the world-building while trying to follow the plot can become difficult. After you finally begin to understand how this world works, you can relax and follow Xandra's adventures, which is why I suggested earlier in this review that you read the two informative sections first. 

     Xandra is a tough but vulnerable heroine who must deal with a series of revelations that disclose that everything she has been told about herself and her family history is completely false and that the people she most trusted are the ones who have been lying to her all her life. Now that we have the parameters of Xandra's world established, I'm looking forward to a more accessible story in book 2. Click HERE ( ) to read the beginning of chapter 1.
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