Official Review: The Queen of Xana by Fred Pilcher

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Official Review: The Queen of Xana by Fred Pilcher

Post by ritah » 10 Sep 2018, 07:24

[Following is an official review of "The Queen of Xana" by Fred Pilcher.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Queen of Xana by Fred Pilcher is a work of fiction that transports readers to the mystical land of Xana during the reign of Queen Julia followed by that of Queen Agatha. The narrative presents the stark differences between the rule of the two monarchs and its effect on the common people.

To celebrate Princess Agatha’s twentieth birthday, Queen Julia throws her daughter a lavish party inviting all who is prominent, including the kings and queens of other lands, to witness the event in which she would officially declare Agatha heiress to the throne. However, before the formal announcement could be made, an evil sorcerer wades through the soiree unnoticed up until he strikes the queen dead, sending the whole room into a state of panic and chaos. The evil sorcerer proceeds to cripple the kingdom with his spells as he robs it of its wealth and serenity. Under the protection of her fairy godmother, Agatha is informed that the journey to saving her people from the monstrous evil will begin when she’s able to find her prince from the vast population. These set of events usher in Queen Agatha’s reign, who is determined to restore Xana’s wealth and foster equality by empowering her people.

Pilcher did a great job describing what life was like for the commoners and how Agatha’s kindness and efforts to alleviate their plight won her the people’s approval and unrelenting support whilst isolating her from the former ruling aristocrats and those who weren’t overly keen on her ideas and autocratic rule. I loved how throughout the story (especially the beginning), I got to see the experiences that shaped Agatha’s ideals. Although I found myself in agreeance with most of her decisions and admired her wisdom and ability to read people and situations, I still found that some of her political moves and decisions were a bit hard to digest.

Agatha’s story is presented as one that has survived over many centuries through word of mouth. The author’s writing style reflects this when stating the ‘facts’ and key differences in the main versions of the same story, which allows readers to make their own interpretations and choices as to which version rings most true. Additionally, where the narrative becomes vague or may appear strange to readers of this century, the commentator (who asks to be called the Traveler) offers an explanation and, at times, opinions based on his own deductions. On my first encounter with the Traveler, I thought I’d find the commentary embedded in the narrative intrusive. However, I grew accustomed to this aspect of the book and appreciated the value it added to Agatha’s tale. Although the Traveler attempted to be objective in relaying information, his fondness for Agatha became apparent when, at times, he explains away some of her more disagreeable and questionable decisions.

Most of the characters have traits that give them some verisimilitude; however, as is common in oral literature to have heroes/heroines with embellished character traits and accomplishments, such is also true for the main characters of this novel. Queen Agatha achieves a great deal in the way of agriculture, education, and in treating those injured in battle, even though the methods she implements for the latter border as absurd. If it really were that ridiculously simple, no soldier in history would have ever succumbed to their injuries. Then, there are the children who become members of the queen’s advisory board. These children have an unbelievable amount of confidence, grace, intellect, and insight for their age. These aspects of the story remind me that although the author presents a narrative that will spark conversation in way of the characters’ political and social philosophy, not every element needs to be taken seriously given its subgenres.

All in all, I enjoyed the fantasy elements of the narrative, and the stranger aspects of Xana’s society fascinated me. I also liked that the story featured strong women in positions of power. I should mention that this novel contains adult themes suitable for a mature audience. Thus, I’d recommend this book to those interested in politics and political systems worthy of discussion presented in an adult fairy story. Less than a handful of errors made their way into the text. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.

The Queen of Xana
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Post by Ruba Abu Ali » 09 Oct 2018, 08:21

Powerful women within the context of a fascinating environment is a must-read! I enjoyed your thorough and enlightening review. Thank you. :tiphat:

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Post by Debjani Ghosh » 09 Oct 2018, 08:31

Despite some unbelievable content present in the story, you gave it a 4 out of 4. This shows how much you enjoyed the story. Thanks for the review!

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Post by kandscreeley » 09 Oct 2018, 19:04

I'm much more interested in sci fi than fantasy. Plus the typically exaggerated character traits make me leery of this one. I enjoyed your fascinating review, but I'm going to pass on this one for now.
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Post by T_stone » 09 Oct 2018, 20:14

A very extensive review. A book about politics and political system of women holding high power, sound quite interesting. Good review.
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Post by wendos » 10 Oct 2018, 04:38

The book talks of things we do not see more often like women holding high political power. I like the fantasy in this novel. Nice review.

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Post by Emi_Review » 11 Oct 2018, 04:59

This sounds like an interesting plot. I love fantasy and fairytales and to have the story feature strong women in positions of power is great. Thank you for the great review ^_^ (by the way, your profile picture is stunning! Wish I could take photos like that)

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Post by Miriam Molina » 11 Oct 2018, 22:10

I considered picking this book for review, but the description mentioned it had a lot of explicit content; that put me off. It seems I overreacted. I think this story is a comedy that does not need to be taken seriously (Shakespeare wrote some absurd comedies, too). That you gave it the perfect grade speaks well of the author's effort.

Thanks for the wonderful review, Ritah! Long live the Queen of Xana!

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Post by Jessa Rea » 14 Oct 2018, 05:56

The story plot seems to be okay but I need to read the whole story to check the flow if it is different from the other stories that I've read before.

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Post by Hiruni Bhagya 81 » 04 Nov 2018, 23:34

Sounds like an interesting read despite its combination of fantasy element with politics. In most fantasy and fairy tales the princess is waiting for her prince to come and save her. So, a strong female protagonist in a position of power is quite refreshing. Because of this, I'm hoping to read it. Thanks for the great review.

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