Gollancz, p/b, 352pp, £8.99
Reviewed by David Brzeski
I generally don’t like coming in in the middle of a series, and this is book five of Jaine Fenn’s ‘Hidden Empire’ series, so I contacted the author and was assured that ‘Queen of Nowhere’ was a stand-alone novel within the series.
Bez is a somewhat paranoid character, but then she has reasons to be. She’s fighting a secret war against a malign alien influence that was thought to have been long dead. Humankind had suffered the oppression of the Sidhe for millennia, but they were finally defeated a thousand years ago. Now few people believe they are still around, but they are. They can look like us, and they have agents placed in key positions all through human ruled space.
Bez, a supremely talented hacker, works alone. She has agents who supply her with intel, but these agents don’t know who she is, or even exactly what cause they’re working for. None of them even know Bez’ real name, as she has created dozens of aliases, fully realised identities, with their own backgrounds. She is the classic underground spy, working without any government backup, breaking laws to survive.
This is how Bez likes it. Her life is dangerous, but as long as she is careful, she might just survive long enough to see the Sidhe influence eradicated completely.
Then things start to go out of control. The only person she has ever trusted with her real identity and the details of her mission may not be trustworthy after all. And who is this person, who reveals himself to be not only aware of who she is and what she’s doing, but claims to have been helping her in the background all along?
While it certainly worked as a stand-alone story, it definitely made me want to pick up the previous four volumes to fill in more details of the background. If I force myself to be critical, I would say that it gets a little slow in the middle, but that genuinely is me trying my best to pick fault with a very enjoyable book.