Book Review: Two novels with badass heroes

Both of these books feature badass female heroes and lots of violence. The YA novel is probably the more brutal of the two.

Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers. Orbit, 2016. 9780316308601. 432pp.

Hail Bristol left the life of a princess behind years ago and became a notorious gunrunner. But now her sisters have been killed, her mother is ill, and there was just a serious attempt on her life. Good thing trackers from the Indranan Empire found her, and, on orders, dragged her back home to become heir to the throne. (Worth noting: this is set in a female-dominated interstellar empire based on India.)

Back in the palace and extremely pissed off, the only people Hail can trust are the trackers who found her. War with a neighboring empire is about to kick off, and her mother is clearly losing it. But before any of that can be dealt with Hail and her bodyguards need to figure out who is trying to assassinate her and why.


Ship of Smoke and Steel: Book One of The Wells of Sorcery Trilogy by Django Wexler. Tor Teen, 2019. 9780765397249. 366pp.

Isoka keeps the poorest part of Kahnzoka in line for her bosses and their criminal enterprises. She’s ruthless, and she’s secretly an adept who can draw power from Melos, the Well of Combat — that’s how she creates those glowing green blades that you see on the cover. Her other secret is that she uses the money she makes to create an upper-class life for her sister in a far, far better part of the city.

After her power is discovered, she’s sent to Soliton, a mythical ghost ship that is said to collect damned souls. Her mission: to steal it and deliver it into the hands of the Blessed Empire in a year’s time. No one knows what awaits her on the ship. (But I’ll tell you, it’s totally berserk and very, very violent.) If she fails in her mission her sister will suffer, and of course that will mean that Isoka is probably dead, too.


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