The Hedgewitch Queen by Lilith Saintcrow

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Publication Date:
December 1st 2011
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN:  B004RD8512
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Kindle ebook
Lootability: *
Vianne di Rocancheil is a lady waiting at the Court of Arquitaine, where she studies her books, watches for intrigue, and shepherds her foolhardy Princesse through the glittering whirl. Court is a sometimes-unpleasant waltz, especially for the unwary, but Vianne treads its measured steps well.
Unfortunately, the dance has changed. Treachery is afoot in gilded and velvet halls. A sorcerous conspiracy is unleashed, with blood, death, and warfare close behind. Vianne must flee, carrying the Great Seal of Arquitaine with her. This is the one thing the conspirators need to rule, and they won’t rest until they have it. A life of dances, intrigues, and fashion has not prepared Vianne for this. Nor has it prepared her for Tristan d’Arcenne, Captain of the King’s Guard and player in the most dangerous games conspiracy can devise. Yet to save her country and avenge her Princesse, Vianne will become what she must and do whatever is required.
A Queen can do no less

The Hedgewitch Queen is an adventure into fantasy but has the shallow flow of broken promises and insincerity. It had all the potential of a true epic fantasy with a sweet romance but the further I read, the further that potential fled from me.

What I Liked: The book dives almost straight into the action after a brief introduction into Vianne - sweet, caring, not-afraid-of-dirt, Handmaiden to the Princess and Hedgewitch. So far so good.
People are dying left and right, a conspiracy to kill the King is at hand and the mysterious Captain of the King's Guard has been caught and sentenced to hang for the death of the King. It's up to Vianne to save him and her country.
So far, so good, right?

What I Didn't Like: Almost everything from that point on. The narrative slowed, Vianne started having hissy fits and fainting everywhere, and everything fell apart.
"Look upon me!" I cried, and they did to a man. "Do I look a Queen? Nonsense. Am I dignified? Regal? I caught you at your game in that passageway because I was covered in mud, Tristan, is that a very queenly picture? And I crept down to the donjon to free you because I believed a King's idle jest. Very well, I am a fool, a provincial little fool, punish me for it! I have spent my life smoothing and covering the mistakes others have made and I am sick to death of it!" - Chapter 6, Kindle edition
A pretty line...the first time. Not only was Vianne a drama queen but Saintcrow tried to make her some kind of saint. She is always struggling on, willing to sacrifice herself for others and beautiful in her ongoing state of disrepair - or so it is regularly pointed out to Vianne. She's beautiful but unaware of it, she searches for strength through infirmity and cares for the poor.
Except, none of that is true in actuality. Sick for three quarters of the novel Vianne is a useless sack of nothing waited on hand and foot by Tristan and his men. She feels the suffering of the peasants for the few moments they are in front of her and until a new drama seeks her attention.
It isn't until Vianne reaches Tristan's home in the mountains that she takes on any semblance of authority or responsibility and even then she still plays the sweet, merciful little girl.

The most interesting part of the story  (except the beginning) was Vianne's two months with the gypsies and that had less page space than her regular exclamations of : "...a duel [a Court] I would not witness, being weak of stomach." 

It took me almost two weeks to finish this book because I just couldn't stand reading more than a few pages at a time. The language used pretentious changes to the French and German languages (Princesse, Tante, ect) for titles and it might have been easier to read if Saintcrow had just relaxed the language a little.

I despise writing negative reviews but I'm so disappointed in the lost opportunities of The Hedgewitch Queen. A sequel The Bandit King was released as a Kindle ebook on June 1st 2012.


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