Book Review: Queen of the Warrior Bees (Natural Forces) by Jean Gill

Queen of the Warrior Bees

Queen of the Warrior Bees by Jean Gill, an ecological fantasy with intriguing bees and natural forces, and a terrible clash.Series: Natural Forces, #1

Author: Jean Gill

Genre: Fantasy

Book Description:

Block Nature out and she’ll force a way in.

As the Mages of the Citadel fight amongst themselves and prepare for war against the Forest, Mielitta, a despised servant, has her own battle to face. Bastien and Janlou, the boys who terrorised her as a child, have grown into their status as Mages and she cannot escape them forever.

In desperation, she flees to the forbidden Forest and its dangerous attractions. Her scent angers thousands of bees and, although she survives their attack, she has changed. A strange bee symbol glows on her thigh and her senses are altered. She learns that her connection with bees enables her to summon their aid and gives her the power to change shape.

This new-found bond works both ways and the bees need Mielitta’s help as the rift widens between Forest and Citadel.

Can one girl and a colony of bees reunite Man and Nature, or is the split irreversible?


I’ve been putting off writing this review for months, but my thoughts about this book have still not taken a neat shape, and at this point I don’t know if they ever will, so here goes an attempt to make some sense of them for the rest of you.

I liked Mielitta, and I liked how once she knows herself and her connection to the real world, she is able to resist the attempts made on her to break her mind. I thought there was a lot of hope and positivity there. I liked the way she connects to Nature, the way she chooses to be herself and against everyone else and the way they are all taught and indoctrinated, she gets glimpses of Nature and is able to follow them and make a difference by being true to her nature and her bees. However, I felt it would have been much stronger with the hint that she may be some sort of chosen one, differentiated from others by her birth and a prophecy, instead of by her choices and commitment to her nature and vision.

I really enjoyed the themes of connection to Nature, and that cutting ourselves off from Nature creates a sterile, dead world, one that weakens us and makes us more vulnerable, instead of connection to reality and strength. That sometimes what is supposed to help can actually be harmful. There were many places where these themes were developed with rich imagery that really fits and asks questions that I think are apt, especially if one looks between the layers. However, there were also places where I thought the presentation lacked nuance. For a book that is so obviously a presentation of the modern world and the modern drive for sterility and control over Nature, for insulating ourselves from the natural world, it made some strange choices. An example is the extreme misogyny that dominates the Citadel, in contrast to the development of technology and the obsession with sterility correlating in many places with some sort of push for equality between men and women: let me be careful here! I do not think that societies or cultures that are close to Nature have to be, or always are, at all misogynist; some may be far less tainted than anything I’ve seen in the modern world. But I thought it was a strange choice, and one that was not dealt with, with adequate nuance.

Another place where I have mixed feelings is Mielitta’s connection to the bees and their world view. I thought their perspective on life and death has a great deal to offer us, but I can shake some revulsion that I feel towards the concept of “the One,” a revulsion that is both reinforced by and reinforces my dislike of the chosen one hint. It is perhaps natural and inescapable when a connection with hive creatures like bees is the main thrust of the book, and it cannot taint my appreciation of the view they present towards life and death. However, I felt that, in that case, it was not adequately nuanced and balanced, especially when our own “Perfect” society pushes the destruction of personality in a lot of different ways, sterilizing not only Nature but human beings and creating its own drones, and when “the One/the Queen” is so readily a symbol of authority and a figure of authority. Perhaps, this weakness will be corrected in later books, but I wish there were at least more or stronger hints of that direction.

The other characters besides Mielitta also had depth to them. Some of the characters who seem extremely distasteful at first turn out to be layered, with complex motivations and compassion ready to come to the fore, once it can escape the lies and fear that has constrained it. Others, equally satisfyingly, turned out to be not so ready to change their ways, but when they are given the opportunity to see, shut their eyes tighter. The magic was natural and not overly systemized, in a way I found enjoyable, and I liked the rich and visual description of Mielitta’s experiences of smell.

Jean’s Website

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