April 23, 2015
Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran
Sati is the elder daughter of a deaf father and a mother who died in childbirth. With just her little sister for company and an abusive grandmother to hound her, she is saved from a brothel to be trained by her father and a neighbor for a spot in the Queen's guard. Positions come open rarely and she trains for year before being accepted in and finding a whole new arena in which she must do battle. And with the British slowly taking over the different kingdoms of India, politics are just as dangerous as they ever have been.
Sati is not a very strong character. Well, in some ways. She certainly trains well and does what she is told, but I never really feel like she ever stands up for herself in this novel. Yes, traditions and the culture don't let her do a lot of things. But with her intelligence and skills she should have been a little more capable of doing things for herself. Regardless, she still is an interesting character to read about and you can sympathize with her. Queen Lakshmi herself we only see a little of, and I was intrigued, but I was also surprised by how "bound" her character was by her station in life. Again, that might just be the constraints of culture though.
The book's premise was a good one. Few people (and I'm including myself) have ever heard of an all female guard in India, let alone one in previous history. I thought that this story was a good way of explaining how it worked and all some of the other practices in India. I don't know how historically accurate it is, since I've never studied it before, but I'm guessing it's pretty close and it seemed to be well thought out. There is some violence in the novel, but not overly much. And there is mention of brothel and rape. There's actually some sad, anger-inducing scenes involving that actually. But for as angry as it made me, I realized that it was probably an accurate reflection of history.
A very interesting book and engaging read. For a little big on Laskmi's guard, this is one to dig into.
**This book was received as an advanced reviewer's copy**