Sci-Fi Review: ‘Heaven’s Queen’ by Rachel Bach

Heaven's Queen (Paradox, #3)Ending a series can be hard.  All those pesky plotlines gotta come together, characters need resolutions, and no matter how the author crafts it there will no doubt be a corner of the internet telling them just how wrong they got it.  I think I would write two books in a trilogy and fake my death, it’s the only way I could avoid the pressure.

But I have now gone through a full series with Rachael Aaron/Bach twice, and no one remembered to tell her how hard this is supposed to be.  Because she flat out nails the endings.  Twice now I have watched her series get better and better.  Twice she has taken premises that were almost Saturday morning cartoon in their starting simplicity and added element after element until I was screaming at my kindle to JUST TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS.  Me likey Heaven’s Queen.

I have spent quite a bit of time on the series as a whole, and on how awesome Dev is, and how much I like power armor and named weapons and nasty man eating lizards getting sliced up by power blades.  You no doubt already know that there were some serious sci-fi style weird shit going on that answers were needed for.  Honestly these books have come out rapid fire over what, six months?  Go catch up on the first two books, you don’t need me to give a summary of this.  Let’s just move on to praising another great finish.

What do we get this outing?  We get more Dev and Rupert romantic tension; the same I love him I hate him I am totally going to punch him stuff we have had for two books so far.  Hope you like it, it should be expected by now.  But as in the previous outings this is so much more than a love story, this is a story that has seen Dev grow so much in such a natural way.  She is still a devil be damned, shoot first and let god (emperor) sort ‘em out alpha she has been throughout.  But her conscience, never completely absent, forces her to make the hard decisions on what is most important to her – and you know she is going to follow through once that hard decision is made.

We get all the resolution we need.  Yes, this includes the romantic angle, but also the forty two answers we were waiting for about in this story; life, the universe, everything.  We have come a long way from strange glowing bugs with no feasible explanation, a long way from a story of a young gunner looking for a spot of glory and into what it became.  Poor Dev though she had seen it all as a mercenary before joining the Glorious Fool; but through this book she saw the full might of the universe thrown at her without it ever feeling like too much to me as a reader.

And this is to me the genius of this series.  It was completely over the top, 100% pulp; at least it should have been.  It was about power armor cutting through aliens on a trader ship when it started for god’s sake, and there are so many Warhammer 4K allusions the book cover may as well be winking at me.  But with a strong strength of character, a slow burn of a sci-fi mystery, and truly alien aliens it rises above.  Even the cliché’s stopped being cliché.   Example?  I fell in love with the strange little religious fanatics that acted like space cadets because I understood how they got to where they were.

A strong conclusion, pulp with some heart, a protagonist that I just can’t help loving, and romantic tension that never got stupid (oh sure there was some forgiveness for some pretty big failings, but while that may not be healthy it sure as hell is realistic when passion is involve).  Truly this is a series that has a little something for everyone, and this is a book that finishes said series wonderfully.

4 stars.

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