Unconquerable Sun, Kate Elliott – Book Review

Who is ready for ‘Judith attempts to review science fiction’?

Welcome to my stop on the Unconquerable Sun blog tour – this is a new Space Opera from Head of Zeus publishing who were kind enough to send me a copy for review.

As someone who is edging more and more into reading science fiction I was delighted to have the chance to read this – and on top of that there is an ancient history connection!

Goodreads Summary:

Princess Sun has finally come of age.
Growing up in the shadow of her mother, Eirene, has been no easy task. The legendary queen-marshal did what everyone thought impossible: expel the invaders and build Chaonia into a magnificent republic, one to be respected—and feared.

But the cutthroat ambassador corps and conniving noble houses have never ceased to scheme—and they have plans that need Sun to be removed as heir, or better yet, dead.

To survive, the princess must rely on her wits and companions: her biggest rival, her secret lover, and a dangerous prisoner of war.
Take the brilliance and cunning courage of Princess Leia—add in a dazzling futuristic setting where pop culture and propaganda are one and the same—and hold on tight:

This is the space opera you’ve been waiting for.

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

My experience with space opera has been slim – so if you’re looking for a more expert opinion on the genre as a whole let me quietly poke you towards I Should Read That who can probably tell you everything you want to know. If you’re more like me, someone who enjoys science fiction but hasn’t got too much background information or things to use as a comparison then YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE!

You’re also in the right place if you’re just wanting someone to wax lyrical about this book because HELLO I LOVED THIS BOOK. This is the kind of science fiction that just works for me, not too bogged down in science and aerodynamics with an emphasis on character and plot to keep me interested. And it’s got sapphic representation? Sign me the heck up!

I will say I was quite slow to start this book, as with a lot of similar kind of ‘there’s already a war happening’ books you kind of have to just jump in and assume you’ll pick up all the information you’ll need by osmosis. I certainly found that after the first 20% or so I was fully hooked and immersed in the world. It helps that the book is multiple POV so you get a lot of different angles on the world. So if you’re someone who dreads an infodump then this may be a book for you. There is certainly detailed worldbuilding, some of which I don’t think I picked up quite enough of in a first read – I would like to get a bit more out of the pop culture elements in a reread, but the worldbuilding comes through the storytelling as opposed to just being thrust upon you – which works for me.

I’ve mentioned this book being character and plot focused, and that was another one of the things that absolutely worked for me. The whole story manages to feel very fresh and keeps things interesting (even though the book feels quite long). I think part of that is that it doesn’t feel like this book follows standard ‘beginning, middle, end’ story beats. The story feels much more sequential, one thing leads to another and you follow the characters through that journey. (Science fiction experts is that what Space Opera means? Don’t attack me if this is just what you expect from this kind of book).

I really enjoyed all of the different perspectives in this book, I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise that I enjoyed the group’s outlier Persephone the most – but Sun is also a very good character and manages to avoid a lot of the pitfalls I would normally expect from this kind of character. She is trusting without feeling naive which is not something I often find in a princess character – yay Sun.

As you may know I have an Ancient History degree so I feel I ought to be able to comment on the Alexander the Great angle of this book. However I basically noped out of all Greek History (and…all history pre 0AD) so my memory of Alexander’s story is foggy at best. There were a couple of references that I did manage to pick up (Bucephalus!) but if you’re not familiar with the story I wouldn’t have thought you’d be missing out on anything. I expect it’s a bonus to those who do know the history and the rest of us can just enjoy a big sprawling space epic.

Should you read this? I would say yes! Set some time aside to get through it, especially those earlier sections, but once I was hooked I was totally in it, desperate to find out what would happen to these characters. Someone time travel back from the future and give me the rest of the books in this series please.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Unconqerable Sun is out now!

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

What say you? Any more scifi recommendations for me?


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