The Queen’s Advantage by Jessie Mihalik
The Queen’s Advantage (2019) is the second story in Jessie Mihalik’s ROGUE QUEEN series. These are short and entertaining science fiction novellas. I enjoyed the first one, The Queen’s Gambit, because it’s fast-paced, has a strong female protagonist, an appealing love interest, and a nice sense of humor. You’ll want to read it before picking up The Queen’s Advantage.
I listened to Tantor Audio’s edition which is narrated by Rachel Dulude. The cover art of the audiobook is horrendous, and Dulude could use a bit of coaching for her prosody, but don’t let this scare you away. It’s a good format for this story.
Because of the events that took place in The Queen’s Gambit, Samara, the Rogue Queen, is now a close ally to Valentin, the smart, sexy, and benevolent emperor of Kos. Young Valentin is surrounded by advisors that have been in power a lot longer than he has, and he knows that at least one of them can’t be trusted. He asks Samara to visit his court to help ferret out the traitor.
When she gets there, she finds out that it’s even more dangerous than she imagined and she needs to use all her wits to guarantee Valentin’s, and her own, survival.
Readers who enjoyed The Queen’s Gambit are likely to feel similarly about The Queen’s Advantage. There’s not quite as much action this time because there’s so much political intrigue, and there’s very little time spent on spaceships because most of the story takes place in Valentin’s court. Again, Samara’s badassery is not all that believable (she needs to learn some diplomacy), and some of the dialogue is a bit clumsy, but the story is fun and that’s what we’re expecting in this short, jaunty space opera.
I expect that we’ll be seeing more of Samara and Valentin in the future. Jessie Mihalik serialized The Queen’s Advantage on her blog before it was published in book and audiobook form. Perhaps she’ll do the same with the next story.