Wednesday 9 December 2020

Queen of the Warrior Bees (Natural Forces 1) - Jean Gill

Epic eco-fantasy from the award-winning author of The Troubadours Quartet

One misfit girl and 50,000 bees. Together they must change the world. As the Mages of the Citadel fight amongst themselves and prepare for war against the Forest, Mielitta, a despised servant, has her own battle to face. Bastien and Jannlou, the boys who terrorised her as a child, have grown into their status as Mages and she cannot escape them forever.

In desperation, she flees to the forbidden Forest and its dangerous attractions. Her scent angers thousands of bees and, although she survives their attack, she has changed. A strange bee symbol glows on her thigh and her senses are altered. She learns that her connection with bees enables her to summon their aid and gives her the power to shift shape.

This new-found bond works both ways and the bees need Mielitta's help as the rift widens between Forest and Citadel. Can one girl and a colony of bees reunite Man and Nature, or is the split irreversible?

Block Nature out and she'll force a way in.

What did I think?

Jean Gill is one of my favourite historical fiction authors so when I heard that she had turned her hand to fantasy, I just had to read Queen of the Warrior Bees.  It goes without saying that the quality of the writing is exceptional but the story is amazing too and I found myself fully immersed in the magical world that Jean Gill has created.

Mielitta is a wonderfully strong female character; as a child, her orphan status set her apart from her peers and the boys in particular used every opportunity to bully her.  This may have caused irreversible damage to a weaker character but Mielitta is destined for great things and rises above their taunts.  The Citadel is definitely a man's world but Mielitta knows her own mind and doesn't want to fill her brain with dresses and flowers.  When a bee sting changes Mielitta forever, we see just what she is made of.

I don't read a lot of fantasy but I do think that you really have to allow your imagination to run wild in order to enjoy books in the genre.  Jean Gill certainly has the amazing ability to use her beautiful words to paint a picture of a fantasy world that is as vivid as the world outside my window.  I have been a fan of Jean's for quite some time so I know that she is a beekeeper herself and the prose is peppered with her knowledge of bees that I found very informative.

In a world where it means more to be male than female, Queen of the Warrior Bees is as much a feminist novel as a fantasy novel.  It has as strong a feminist message as The Handmaid's Tale but it has the added entertainment of magic and of course bees.  It may feel like Margaret Atwood mixed with JK Rowling but it's unmistakeably the extraordinary talent of Jean Gill.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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