Book Review: Queen’s Gambit by Karen Chance

Posted November 27, 2020 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Queen’s Gambit by Karen Chance

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Queen's Gambit by Karen Chance
Series: ,
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Published by Author on July 16, 2020
Pages: 457
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Tempt the Stars , Reap the Wind, Ride the Storm, "Black Friday", Brave the Tempest, Masks, Shatter the Earth

Fifth in the Dorina Basarab series, sixteenth in the Cassandra Palmer series, and revolving around Dorina, a dhampir, and her new husband, Louis-Cesare, a master vampire. They’re off to Egypt this time. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Cassandra Palmer World books on my website.

My Take

I do like that new weapon that Ray brought along, the one Dory uses to draw those action billboard characters, lol. Ooh, okay, okay so I like gadgets. Ya gotta admit that vessel (the vimāna) Dorina comes across in Faerie was pretty cool. As for that deceptive tote bag Dory carries around, lol, I want one *more laughter*. Ya gotta admit, that Dory is so consistent with that armory she’s got inside it.

I love how Dory/Dorina both manage to prove themselves to the ones who disrespect them.

It’s a first person protagonist point-of-view from Dorina’s perspective, allowing us to hear Dory’s fears and insecurities about Louis-Cesare’s true feelings about her. She’s also pretty good at conveying his frustrations about her insecurities. Their conflicts sound like a husband and wife slanging off each other. There’s that one scene at Hassani’s court that will crack you up. Dory’s and Louis-Cesare’s natures cause such conflict with each other. Dory is so independent while Louis-Cesare is so protective. A stand that ticks Dory off.

It is so sweet, and heartbreaking, to remember Louis-Cesare’s childhood. Geez. It’s not quite on a parallel with Ray’s but dang, Ray has his own opportunity to find worth. And not just with Dory. He and Dorina find a mutual respect, and she’s darned grateful that Ray knows so much about surviving Faerie! Dorina, the dhampir side, makes her own discoveries about being independent of Dory, her memories of her father separating her from Dory, and her sudden insight into the why. Fascinating.

Hers isn’t the only insight we get. We also learn more about Artemis and why the armies the gods were trying to create didn’t work, the origin of the vampire, and the potential truth about Dory’s peasant mother.

Chance provides another aspect of the original ruler of the vampires that I read in Masks, 6.5, a man who became a demigod through Ra’s experiments, Apollo’s “son” who could transform. The world’s first vampire. A life that led to the origin of the mummy’s curse. Geez.

I dunno. Louis-Cesare has such a case against Tomas, that he abandons all sense whenever Tomas shows up. Then we learn why. Oh. Boy. Seems that Louis-Cesare isn’t the only one haring off. Mircea is out hunting down his obsession, and it’s driving the senate wild.

With Dorina and Ray as guides, we learn a whole lot about ordinary fey. We learn about what motivates the noble fey…they really need a reality check. Nimue manages to give a check to Efridis, which was a little too easy. Useful, but… I do have to confess that it was Jonathan’s arguments that force Efridis to understand what Nimue has been trying to tell her.

Nor do the reveals stop there. We learn so much more about the Dorina/Dory existence, Dorina’s mother’s reality, what Artemis was working toward, Jonathan, fey culture and religion, and so much more.

Queen’s Gambit is cannot-miss read! There’s just too much happening and so much revealed. Not to mention the excitement of the chases, the escapes, the unknown!

The Story

Dorina and Louis-Cesare find themselves on a diplomatic trip to ease the American Vampire Senate’s goals with their war with Faerie. Only, there are many a’many threats to Louis-Cesare’s continued existence.

But it seems that Louis-Cesare isn’t the draw. Nor is Dory. Dorina is the one they want…

The Characters

Dorina Basarab is a terrifying being with two sides: Dory, her human half, and Dorina, her dhampir half. Her father is a powerful senator in the vampire world. Raymond Lu, a former smuggler, is her self-described go-to guy in whom Dorina has discovered hidden talents. (We first met him in Death’s Mistress, 2.)

Louis-Cesare, a master vampire who is not your usual vampire, is a master swordsman, and senator, who has recently married Dorina. And they are so in love…even if Dory is confused about it.

The Vampires

The American Vampire Senate
Mercia Basarab is Dory’s father, a master vampire and highly respected senator who is now general of the World Senate’s army. Uncle Radu is Mercia’s younger brother with Liberace taste. Gerald is Mercia’s military attaché. Kit Marlowe is the consul’s chief spy…and he is in a precarious situation. The frustrating part of it is that we’ll have to wait for Dorina Basarab #6 to find out how he gets out of it, lol. And what his reaction to finding out that his possible savior is that dhampir he hates. Oh, yeah…*she says laughing*

Tomas is the first-level master Louis-Cesare beat and then held in thrall.

Hassani is the consul in Egypt, a vampire who had started life as an expert assassin and can see through glamouries and project an image where he is not. Lantern Boy is the young vampire who holds the light. Ken is one of his. Maha is a powerful healer vampire. Hassani’s past followers included Zakarriyyah, Rashid, and Bahram, if I’m reading it right??

Heliopolis is the original city, the center of Ra’s cult, that preceded Fustat that preceded Cairo. Within this buried city is the House of Ra-Horakhty, a temple. Nicknamed Pa-neck by those who hated him, Sokkwi by his parents, his reign title was Setep-en-Ra, Chosen by Ra. Horus, a sky god, is the king of the Egyptian gods. Tawaret is the goddess who protected women in childbirth. Thoth is the scribe of the gods. Anubis. Bes was a demon fighter, a god of war and parties. Wadjet was a flame-breathing snake god.

The Europeans
Anthony has been the consul for centuries. Louis-Cesare had been his dueling champion, propping Anthony up.

The Latin American Senate
Alejandro is their consul and a real piece of work.

The Silver Circle is…

…the world’s leading magical authority headquartered in Stafford, England. Supposedly the good guys, it consists of war mages and regular mages, which includes wardsmiths, and spellbinders.

Cassandra Palmer is the current Pythia and a demi-goddess — her mother had been Artemis, who made a discovery contrary to what all the other gods were doing.


A world side by side with Earth but on its own plane of existence. The light fey are the ones the gods interbred with. The dark fey are the ones on which the gods experimented. Nimue, a demi-goddess daughter of Poseidon, had been a powerful ruler with a terrifying reputation.

Zeus had transformed King Lycaon and 50 of his sons into the first werewolves. One of the gods’ experiments. Iphemedia wa a human who gave birth to the Aloadae giants by Poseidon. Interesting DNA tidbit about the Spartoi warriors who sprang from the teeth of a dragon. The possible truth about the origin of the Amazons.

The Blarestri, a.k.a.,
…the Blue Fey, are led by Caedmon, a light fey king and son of the sky god, who had been married to Nimue.

The Svarestri, a.k.a.,
…the Black Fey, find their power base in earth and disdain all humans. Aeslinn is their king and the son of Hades. His wife, Efridis, hates him. She’s also Caedmon’s sister.

Jonathan is a way-too-old necromancer who has been stealing magic from others, killing them, to prolong his own life. He’s also the jerk who kept Louis-Cesare prisoner for so long, torturing him every day.

Supernatural Hong Kong is…

…still reeling from the battles in “Dragon’s Claw“, 4.5. Elvis is Dory and Louis-Cesare’s guide. Svetlana and Bertha, are some of the come-hither billboard personas. Those are the nice ones. The Eternity gang is a new bunch of bad guys trying to take over what’s left of the city.

Zheng-zi, a new vampire senator appointed at the same time as Dorina, is in business with Lily and the whorehouse she owns. He wants to be safe. Lord Cheung had been his previous master.

Zheng has employed a fighting team…oh boy, there is a truth there. Ranbir is a dark mage , Jason and Sarah, a jinx, are siblings, and Evelyn is the bruiser. The four of ’em built a reputation of which they take advantage. With Tomas’ help.

1400s Venice may…

…have been a “haven” for vampires. But barely. Dorina remembers her friends back in the day. The pudgy Luysio, the dancing Gerita with her little sister Maria, the bird-feeding Coletta, Zilio, and the sword-wielding Rigi and his brother Gallo. Horatiu had been Mercia’s ancient human servant. She also remembers this as the time Mercia separated Dorina from Dory.

More Info

Claire is a half-elven friend of Dorina’s who turns into a dragon. Christine, a revenant, had been Louis-Cesare’s sort-of long-term “girlfriend”. An Irin is a fallen angel.

The Cover and Title

The cover is at night on a street in Hong Kong, two Chinese lanterns hanging on the left. It’s electric with that blue glow surrounding the short-haired Dory, her body in profile and her head turned toward us, although she is looking over her shoulder. Probably safer. In her left hand Dory is holding a gun pointing to the ground. At the very top is an info blurb in white with the electric blue of the author’s name immediately below it, but above Dory’s head. The title starts at Dory’s elbow in a combination of white and turquoise. At the very bottom is the series information in white.

The title is actually Efrida’s plan, the Queen’s Gambit.

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