Review by Nisha Ward -- The Undying Queen of Ur

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Nisha Ward
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Review by Nisha Ward -- The Undying Queen of Ur

Post by Nisha Ward » 23 May 2019, 18:16

[Following is a volunteer review of "The Undying Queen of Ur" by Abraham Kawa & Arahom Radjah.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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"At dawn, the sky was a slaughterhouse. As below, so above. Today was as yesterday, and so would be tomorrow. The sun rose just for her, and nothing changed."

Chapter 3, The Undying Queen of Ur
So lies the crux of The Undying Queen of Ur by Abraham Kawa and Arahom Radjah. This is a story about love, about the way the stars crossed for Arkhalla, vampiric queen of Ur, and Shamath, a captive turned her slave. Their love birthed a growth within them as Arkhalla’s sense of self and of mercy began to change and Shamath transitioned from a boy into a man.

However, not all is as it seems in this novel. Though Arkhalla’s people tremble in a fear born of 200 years of terror, such a change is unwelcomed by her Council. While regret and love begin to shape her anew, Council members Sin and Bel plot a betrayal that will have sweeping ramifications not just for the empire Arkhalla has built, but for Arkhalla and Shamath themselves.

To say that this was an easy book to summarise would be a lie. I thought about what I should and shouldn’t include, but everything in my notes turned out to be a major spoiler of some sort. Every beat in the narrative has a significance and a setup that is paid off the more you read and you will read more when you pick up the novel. Kawa takes Radjah’s original story and runs with it in a way that doesn’t let up despite the mediated pacing of the novel.

You see, to talk about Arkhalla and The Undying Queen without talking about its origins would be a disservice to the novel. According to Radjah in the book’s introduction, the story and the world of Ur had been born out of a need to provide a history for the collectible statues he had been creating in 2014. From this story came a comic series, a limited run of 7 issues that told the novel’s story in a short, visual medium. Yet, this was clearly not enough as The Undyng Queen was later produced to expand on this series.

The transition from comic to prose fiction, as such, was truly a benefit to the characters and the setting. The novel explores the inner turmoil Bel, Shamath and Arkhalla all experience as Shamath’s arrival acts as a catalyst for change. Bel is cast aside for Shamath and forced to re-examine his own feelings and experiences in the wake of this rejection while Arkhalla seems to be ripped open from the inside by her own repressed emotions.

The world-building is on a smaller scale, however. Given that this is primarily a character-driven work, it’s necessary in order to focus on the characters themselves, but it is not insignificant. Gods and religious rituals are used to explain why the Urian society is built and functions as it does, while the geographical details provide an excellent visual for the more action-oriented parts of the novel.

Furthermore, the most interesting aspect of the world-building is the politics and intrigue of the Urian court. The nature of the Undying and the powers such a state provides has led the Council to fall into a state of decadence and greed that motivates their rebellion against Arkhalla, while demonstrating just how fragile a hold on power Arkhalla has had throughout her terror-filled reign.

Yet, not all of the novel is as worthy of praise as I’ve made it out to be. Characters like Narama, the queen’s Huntress, are shallow and one dimensional, defined by a single emotion. There’s no impetus for understanding like there is with Bel, who was not only Arkhalla’s general but also her lover and an approximation of a close friend. The other members of the Council are fashioned in the same way, so much so that the only member that truly stands out is Sin, and that’s mainly because he’s the mastermind behind the plot to dethrone Arhkalla.

In addition to this, there are several spelling and grammatical errors, forcing me to give the novel 3 out of 4 stars, despite loving it so much. It’s a must-read for both fans of epic fantasy and vampire fiction, but beware folks. There are some pretty graphic moments of violence and a few scattered sex scenes throughout the novel that may not be something parents want to expose their kids to below, maybe, 15 or so.

******
The Undying Queen of Ur
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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 01 Jun 2019, 14:57

I sometimes like vampire stories, although it sounds as if this might get a bit gory? The idea of a story inspired by statues and transferred from comic to prose is truly fascinating though. Thanks for your insightful review.

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Post by Artizi » 01 Jun 2019, 15:19

I'm not sure this is my particular cup of tea, but your review is wonderfully written and insightful, so kudos!

If you wouldn't mind checking my latest review, I'd greatly appreciate it!
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Post by Nisha Ward » 01 Jun 2019, 15:40

Artizi wrote:
01 Jun 2019, 15:19
I'm not sure this is my particular cup of tea, but your review is wonderfully written and insightful, so kudos!

If you wouldn't mind checking my latest review, I'd greatly appreciate it!
Of course! Also, thank you for stopping by. The book really is a matter of taste as it's not even in the vein of vampire books we see today, but it is very good, though I get not wanting to read something out of your preferences.
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Post by Nisha Ward » 01 Jun 2019, 15:43

ButterscotchCherrie wrote:
01 Jun 2019, 14:57
I sometimes like vampire stories, although it sounds as if this might get a bit gory? The idea of a story inspired by statues and transferred from comic to prose is truly fascinating though. Thanks for your insightful review.
Hmm, I wouldn't say it gets too gory but there are definitely some descriptions that are graphic in nature. Thankfully the authors only use them when he's emphasising the more monstrous aspects of the Undying and their war.
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Post by Bluebird03 » 02 Jun 2019, 09:08

This sounds like an intriguing world to delve into, as your review was very informative. I continue to be surprised by the number of books with editing issues. Thank you for a very interesting and honest review.

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Post by Nisha Ward » 02 Jun 2019, 10:32

Bluebird03 wrote:
02 Jun 2019, 09:08
This sounds like an intriguing world to delve into, as your review was very informative. I continue to be surprised by the number of books with editing issues. Thank you for a very interesting and honest review.
I'm the same way though I try to see what's good in them also.
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Post by Wyland » 03 Jun 2019, 07:57

Thanks for the warning in regard to the graphic content, as a result I don’t think I’ll be reading it. Thanks for the review.

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Post by Nisha Ward » 03 Jun 2019, 08:37

Wyland wrote:
03 Jun 2019, 07:57
Thanks for the warning in regard to the graphic content, as a result I don’t think I’ll be reading it. Thanks for the review.
Thanks for stopping by all the same!
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Post by gen_g » 03 Jun 2019, 10:31

Oh my, this sounds absolutely stunning - I'm a huge sucker for great world-building and well-developed characters, and this seems to be exactly it! I wouldn't say no to vampires either (LOL); still, the errors are a pity, and I suppose I will pick this up after it has been run by an editor. Thank you for the lovely review, as always!

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Post by kdstrack » 03 Jun 2019, 10:42

I love your writing and the way you summarize this book. This sounds like an excellent story for all vampire lovers. Thanks for your review!

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Post by Nisha Ward » 03 Jun 2019, 11:22

gen_g wrote:
03 Jun 2019, 10:31
Oh my, this sounds absolutely stunning - I'm a huge sucker for great world-building and well-developed characters, and this seems to be exactly it! I wouldn't say no to vampires either (LOL); still, the errors are a pity, and I suppose I will pick this up after it has been run by an editor. Thank you for the lovely review, as always!
They are but they weren't as bad as they could have been, thankfully. I'm hoping for more world-building in the sequel too.
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Post by Nisha Ward » 03 Jun 2019, 11:23

kdstrack wrote:
03 Jun 2019, 10:42
I love your writing and the way you summarize this book. This sounds like an excellent story for all vampire lovers. Thanks for your review!
It's certainly something new. Thanks for commenting!
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Post by Ekta Kumari » 06 Jun 2019, 17:08

Intriguing cover page. This seems to be a very imaginative tale. While I'm not much into vampire fiction, I'm interested in the main characters and their multi-dimensional nature. I'll add this to my TBR list. Thanks for the well-executed review.
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Post by Nisha Ward » 06 Jun 2019, 18:55

Ekta Kumari wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 17:08
Intriguing cover page. This seems to be a very imaginative tale. While I'm not much into vampire fiction, I'm interested in the main characters and their multi-dimensional nature. I'll add this to my TBR list. Thanks for the well-executed review.
Thanks for stopping by!
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