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The Queen's Bastard (The Inheritors' Cycle, Book 1) Paperback – April 29, 2008

3.0 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Inheritors' Cycle Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Taking a break from urban fantasy, Murphy (House of Cards) turns to this uneven opener for a Reformation-inspired fantasy series. Belinda Primrose is a lovely young woman whose mysterious father, Lord Drake, has trained her to be an assassin serving Lorraine, the queen of Aulun. While Belinda is Lorraine's unacknowledged bastard, young Prince Javier of Gallin was secretly adopted by Lorraine's dangerous rival, Queen Sandalia, when her husband's untimely death caused her to miscarry the child who was to be Gallin's heir. When Javier encounters Belinda while she's on a spy mission in Gallin, he falls hopelessly in love with her, a devotion that deepens when they discover they're both witchbreed magic users. Murphy excels in depicting their passion, but readers looking for romance will be shocked when Belinda incites and abets Javier's rape of another woman, and the talky political intrigue frequently comes at the expense of much-needed action. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* In a world in which women are considered weak and lesser than men, three remarkable women wind up ruling three powerful kingdoms in the first of what promises to be an outstanding series featuring a masterfully intricate dance of politics and intrigue in a world with parallels to the Elizabethan era. Belinda Primrose, supposedly an orphan but truly the bastard of Queen Lorraine and her secret spymaster, Robert Drake, learns to hide her thoughts and feelings at a very young age, masters several combat skills, and executes her first assassination before she is 12. Assuming the identity of Beatrice Irvine, a young widow from a Scotland-like country, her pious attendance at church draws the attention of a wealthy young merchant prince who is an intimate of young Javier, who will be king when his mother steps aside as regent. Belinda and Javier recognize in each other a kinship in their ability to harness powers and do things that would ensure their execution as witches should anyone discover them. Readers will be eagerly awaiting their story’s next installment in the Inheritors’ Cycle. --Diana Tixier Herald
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345494644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345494641
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,748,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Hanses on May 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a simple story of a trained assassin who also happens to be the bastard daughter of a queen. Our heroine is Belinda Primrose, raised by the queen's spymaster. She kills her way around Europe, posing as a lower class girl, and is finally given a cushy but more demanding posting in an enemy country, where she becomes the prince's lover. Rather than killing, she must prove her wit by finding evidence of a political plot. Unfortunately for her, she finds that the prince is the only person besides her father to share her own magical powers, and in their mutual feelings of loneliness and their feelings of empathy for each other, real love blooms. The fantasy/sci fi elements are low key.

I want to like this book, I really do, but I have several problems with it. Firstly, the plot to take down the enemy queen because she has some claim to territory belonging to Lorraine, Belinda's queen, shows poor diplomatic planning. There's a real absence to heirs to most of the thrones in play, with almost all of them going to Javier, Belinda's prince. Lorraine has no heir, and without an heir to continue her own political interests after death, it would make more sense to naturalize Belinda and marry her off to Javier, or just plain naturalize Belinda and make her the heir to the throne. The problem of Lorraine's lack of an heir needs to be solved before she tries to remove the other queens from her playing board, but it never even comes up in the story. Big gaping plot hole here that nagged me through the entire book.

Secondly, the book often depicts the weakness of women's positions. Yes, historically women of all classes have held less power than men.
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Format: Paperback
On paper, this novel is right up my alley. Court intrigue plus magic plus sex? Where do I sign up? I've seen comparisons to the Kushiel series and it's not hard to see why; it's partly the intrigue/magic/sex combination and partly the prose, which is lush and has moments of exquisite beauty. It was the prose that hooked me from the first page.

Unfortunately, other factors "unhooked" me later in the book, and now I'm three-quarters of the way through _The Queen's Bastard_ and not really feeling the urge to go on.

First of all, having the Queen's secret illegitimate daughter become a spy is requiring a lot of suspension of disbelief on my part. One would think Queen Lorraine would want to overprotect Belinda, even if she didn't want to acknowledge her, in case there came a time when she needed to reveal her parentage and name her heir to the throne. So I don't think Lorraine would be sending Belinda into mortal danger. And even if Lorraine never planned to legitimize Belinda or name her heir, Belinda would be a valuable piece on the board in terms of dynastic marriages. So I can't see Lorraine sending Belinda to seduce in the name of espionage. She'd want to keep her untouched. Stifling, maybe, but such was the life of noblewomen of the time Murphy is evoking. Jacqueline Carey's Phedre was able to do the spy/courtesan thing because she was a commoner.

I managed to shove this out of my mind, though, and sink into the story, at least until Belinda lost my sympathy completely. I think what Murphy is trying to show is that Belinda's witchpower, once unleashed, takes over her in some way and goads her to dominate others, but I feel like it was taken too far in the scene where Belinda sets up her maid to be raped. Belinda lost me there.
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Format: Paperback
I love the Urban Shaman series...I ADORE the Negoiator series so when I heard CE Murphy was putting out a new series about the [...] daughter of a Queen who is a spy/assasin, I was excited. I expected another series with supernatural elements and a new twist on the renaissance period.

I did not get what I was hoping for. I understand that as a spy the main character will have to do a lot of things to get the job done. But as the book wore on...I wasn't sure WHAT that job was anymore and it became obvious that this is not another urban paranormal novel: its an erotic novel. I have nothing against sex, but I don't like erotic novels, per se. I really wanted something like her other series. I feel like I was misled.

If you're looking for a book with a fair amount of sex, weak plot, and progessively unlikeable characters, pick this book up. If you want something like CE Murphy's earlier books...pass this one by. I hope Ms. Murphy does not become another Laurell K. Hamilton and starts writing books I can no longer stand. I'd hate to lose another author.
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Format: Paperback
There's a lot I could say about this book from how the main character's defining talent of 'stillness' seems contrived (and masochistic), to how the 'world' is a thinly disguised alternate realty probably due to the author's inability to come up with convincing, intricate political machinations without stealing them from history. (They still aren't very convincing).

However, the single overwhelming negative feature of this book is the gratuitous and highly unpleasant sex. It totally overshadows the rest of the book's flaws. Does the main character absolutely have to [...]almost all the other characters? And does the sex always have to involve pain? It doesn't get better as the book goes along, it gets worse. I gave up on the book at the point where she tied up her nice maid in bed all night, assaulted her like the girl was a sex toy, and gagged her so the 'heroine' could sleep through the maid's crying. What a way to create a sympathetic main character! (not)

If you're looking for a book filled with vivid descriptions of S&M tinged sex, this is the book for you. If you're looking for a good read with magic, politics, and assassination... keep looking.
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