Hammer of God
Orbit, Jan 2009, $7.99
The Kingdom of Ethrea has never been ruled by a female. So when the current monarch dies his only offspring, his daughter Rhian, claims the throne. However many of her noblemen, even her spouse King Alasdair, reject her assertion on the grounds there will be a woman ruler.
While Ethrea is split apart with a royal dispute, neighboring Empress Hekat, who reigns with an iron fist based on her belief in her divine right of rule, feels God has intervened for her; she plans to conquer the divided kingdom. She leads her Mijak warhost horde into Ethrea where the ruling Queen is isolated with no internal allies or external trading neighbors to help her defend her people. Her only possible alliance is with Emperor Han of the seemingly strange Tzhung-tzhungchai, but she fears the price of allowing his army inside Ethrea as she distrusts they will leave once they occupy the land.
The third and final Godspeaker book (see EMPRESS and THE RIVEN KINGDOM) continues the complex saga of two female rulers heading to a conflation; that is if Rhian survives internal treachery. The pair are opposites starting with their upbringing and in many other ways yet share a belief they belong on their respective throne; one believes peace will bring prosperity to everyone while the other feels THE HAMMER OF God war will bring her vision of prosperity to the land. To fully grasp the nuances of this egnaging fast-paced finish, readers should read the first two tales before breathlessly waiting for what seems the eventual final battle over whose vision will rule.