The Queen's Gambit by Jessie Mihalik The Queen's Gambit by Jessie Mihalik The Queen’s Gambit by Jessie Mihalik

I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed The Queen’s Gambit (2017), the first novella in Jessie Mihalik’s ROGUE QUEEN series. It’s about Samara, the queen of a nation that stayed independent in a war between two powerful galactic empires. But, without allies to trade with, the people of Queen Samara’s Rogue Coalition are practically starving.

To earn some money for her country, Samara decides to attempt to rescue emperor Valentin Kos from the Quint mercenaries who are holding him captive, and then to collect a reward from the Kos Empire for his safe return. Things are going as planned until Samara is sold out by her partner. Now she’s in just as much trouble as the emperor is…

The Queen's Gambit by Jessie Mihalik
The Queen’s Gambit
is short, fast, fun, and sexy. Tantor Audio’s edition is only 4.25 hours long but in that time Mihalik manages to make me understand and care for her characters. Queen Samara is smart, strong, funny, courageous, and ruthless when necessary. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. Mihalik maybe goes a little overboard with Queen Samara’s badassery, but I was entertained enough that I didn’t care. Emperor Valentin is a worthy love interest and it will be interesting to see where that goes.

The Queen’s Gambit is entertaining all the way through. I listened to Tantor Audio’s edition which is performed by Rachel Dulude. She has a nice voice, but not the most suitable prosody. She often emphasizes the wrong words in sentences. This was not a deal-breaker for me, though. I am willing to read the sequel, The Queen’s Advantage, in audio format. In fact, I’m looking forward to it.

Published in 2017. When the Quint Confederacy and the Kos Empire went to war — again — young Queen Samara wisely kept her Rogue Coalition out of the conflict. But staying neutral in a galactic war doesn’t pay the bills, not when both sides refuse to trade with neutral sectors. With her people on the brink of starvation, Samara hatches a daring plan to snatch the kidnapped Kos Emperor from the Quint mercenaries holding him. The Kos Empire will pay a fortune for their emperor’s return, enough to feed the Coalition’s citizens while they wait for the return to a begrudging peace. But when her plan goes sideways, Samara finds herself evading Quint mercenaries with the very man she intends to capture. And the more time she spends with Valentin Kos, the more she realizes that he’s not the coldly indifferent villain she imagined. Torn between duty and desire, Samara must decide if saving her people is worth giving up the one thing she’s always wanted.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.