Hail Bristol is not what she seems. Known across the galaxy as gunrunner Cressen Stone, she’s also the wayward middle daughter of the Empress of Indrana – a sprawling empire on the brink of chaos.
Hail left her homeworld to hunt down her father’s murderers and escape a life of stifling court ritual. 20 years on, now a gun-runner with quite the reputation, Hail is tracked down and dragged back to Pashati to do her royal duty.
Both of her sisters have ‘gone to temple’ – murdered, leaving Hail as the last surviving heir of a matriarchal society ruled by her dying, empress mother.
KB Wagers drops us headfirst into this world of bubble FTL travel, smugglers and body mods. It’s one that just exists and works, but the most interesting part is discovering the characters.
Hail has to learn to trust her gut in a world of forced civility, and thankfully for readers she’s bad-ass, darkly funny and more capable than she is at first willing to accept. A princess rejecting a life of luxury for adventure is an old story, but not every minor royal would claim to be able to kill someone with the stem of a wine glass – or a hairpin.
These characters feel alive, and as a result you invest in them. Two standouts are the Trackers – Emmory and Zin – that bring Hail home and become her bodyguards and part of a growing entourage of interesting characters: like an intergalactic The West Wing, but with more assassination attempts.
Behind The Throne is a politically charged and action-packed story, with a commanding woman at its centre. It’s a wonderful start to a promising new sci-fi series.