Rating: Buy, Paperback, New
I always have to start a review of a John Ringo novel with the disclaimer that I'm an admirer of his books. That doesn't necessarily mean that I can't be critical but sometimes I do fail to be critical. Mr Ringo's books are generally great entertainment which is the criteria by which I judge books. I've read some very polemical books that still made the entertainment grade and I've read some great literature that didn't. Frankly literature rarely makes the entertainment grade for me.
Queen of Wands is the long awaited sequel (~six years) to Princess of Wands. Generally it was worth the wait. It continues the adventures of Barbara Everette, homemaker, soccer mom and killer of the supernatural. I quite enjoyed Princess of Wands and Queen of Wands was an equally enjoyable read. The book is divided into three parts and frankly I enjoyed the second part, The Maiden's Tale, the most. Mr Ringo spent four or five chapters of the book fleshing out a secondary character and frankly it was a welcome addition to the book. The book sets the stage for the coming penultimate battle between good and evil. Setting the stage for a sequel is one of Mr. Ringo's great talents. Setting the stage for the final book in a series...not so much.
No book review is complete without some criticism, it can't be all gushing all the time. I feel that the last few pages are worth spending some time on. The only part of the book I felt that didn't work or quite gel for me is the revelation at the end of the book. I'm going to do my best not to reveal anything hereafter but read on at your own risk. The character involved is a very minor character. Part of the reason that the revelation doesn't work is that character is little more than a plot device. The character in question could be best described as cooked large flake oatmeal without maple syrup, bland, tasteless, just enough texture to stick to things. An unformed gelatinous nonentity. There isn't enough there to get an emotional impact from this reader. It's a big revelation in some ways but because Mr Ringo hasn't built enough of a hook into the minor character I can neither revile or like the character. My emotional reaction to the revelation was basically, " ho-hum, yawn whatever". The lack of empathy for or emotional impact of the minor character ends up detracting from how it's going to affect the major viewpoint character. It boils down to the minor character is neither evil enough nor nice enough for me to give a crap about the situation.
I've spent a good half of this review talking about my chief criticism of the book. Don't let my criticism of the cliffhanger at the end of the book bother you. It bothered me because I wasn't engaged enough by the character but the potential is there to make the next book quite entertaining. The challenge for Mr. Ringo, if he writes the sequel, is making the nonentity engaging enough to that I'm not yawning through oatmeal boy's subplot.
For full disclosure, I work a full time job and I have three small kids and I read the book in one sitting. With the aforementioned conditions that's not something that I do very often and that's a testament to how entertaining the book is. Mr. Ringo had me right where I wanted to be (entertained) until the last two or three pages.
The book is still worth reading, worth buying IMNHO!
Ringo's ability to set the hook for a sequel is both a virtue and a curse. I really wish in the March books that Mr. Ringo and Mr
Weber had just killed off Adoula and not put in the reference to Roger
the Tyrant. Absent those two major hooks I wouldn't've been waiting for
the last seven years for a sequel to We Few. Wanted one? Oh God Yes! Expected one? No dammit!
Am I eagerly awaiting the next Wands book? OH GOD YES! DAMMIT! and the We Few sequel...and the Eye of the Storm sequel and the sequel to The Hot Gate...<sigh> Gushing Fanboy needs Ringo Sequel Badly.