Author Jean Gill has been one of my favorite authors since I read her brilliant historical series The Troubadours Quartet. When she offered an advance copy of “Queen of the Warrior Bees” in return for an honest review I was thrilled. I had no idea what to expect; what I didn’t expect was a book I would fall in love with from the first page.
Gill is an accomplished writer. Her descriptive passages envelop you in settings you might not otherwise imagine. Her characters are vibrant and move through her stories carrying the reader along, always eager to see where they lead. “Queen of the Warrior Bees” follows this style.
Gill begins with the question, “Why was the Forest forbidden?” Why would a forest be “unmentionable”? What could be so forbidding? The answers come through the adventures of a girl named Mielitta and the people who live around her. Although she is eighteen-years-old she is not recognized as an adult. Left behind by those she considered friends she stands out as different in her world. But it was better to be ignored than bullied as she was by boys, now men, Jannlou and Bastien.
This is a story of dangerous misunderstandings, political corruption, secrets, and courage. As an infant, she was found by the Mage Blacksmith Declan, unlike the other children of the Citadel who were born within the “Perfect” world. From the beginning, there is something very different about Mielitta. In a society where a council of Mages rule and there is a secret ceremony to celebrate children becoming adults, she is left behind. But even Mielitta doesn’t understand how very different she is. One day she dares to leave the sterility of the Citadel to explore the Forbidden Forest. That visit beyond the walls changes her life. It is the tormenting of Bastien and Jannlou that causes her to flee and stumble upon the thing that brings about the change in the young girl.
As with most political intrigues, there are those who seek total power and control and will go to any lengths to achieve it. The interplay between the characters in this story is fascinating. Although there are many characters, each has a distinct personality. As the characteristics of the players evolve and the traits of each are clarified, tension mounts. Who can Mielitta trust and who is her secret enemy?
The contrast between the closed world of the Citadel, a society where everyone has their assigned role and reality is what the Mages allow, and the freedom of the natural world of the forbidden Forest outside the wall is beautifully described. Gill brings the rich flavors of the outside world to life with vivid descriptions of the forest, the stream, and the creatures that reside in that wonderful world.
The climactic conclusion of this vibrant tale took my breath away. Truth is revealed, lies are exposed, and miracles happen. I can easily compare this book to current world events and compliment Gill’s ability to weave a political thriller in the fantasy genre.
Definitely a 5-star read and one you should place at the top of your summer reading list.
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.