Queen of the Conquered-A Needed Exploration of Power and Enslavement
I have so many thoughts on Sigourney Rose. Callender definitely gave us a new take on a familiar narrative; yes her main character can be the villain for all intents and purposes: willing to do whatever it takes to get the vengeance she has sought, while also harbouring thoughts of eventual freedom for her people, while selfishly thinking that her people will rejoice when she is queen, while also not giving more reflection to the fact that she has had quite a world of difference in her upbringing and experience than those who look like her, even as she is loathed and merely tolerated (if so much) by the colonizers.
One aspect of the prose that frustrated me was the repetition. Repetition of Sigourney's feelings, plans, experiences and all without expanding her process or the context that should have informed these repetitive thoughts and memories.
Callender has taken the slave narrative that we are familiar with and given it a different perspective. Instead of a heroine that is working towards freeing her people, we get one that is bent on a vengeance that will take lives of both the colonizers and the enslaved and she is doing so by any means necessary, even if that means keeping her mother's people, her people in a subservient, brutal, violative existence.
After her family was mercilessly slaughtered, because of the position and riches they held, as well as being of both islander and Fjern blood–read white–Sigourney has plotted and planned her route to revenge and she does not care who has to die for her to accomplish what she has set out to do.
Sigourney is a complicated and layered character, she knows the status that she has, she is aware of the way that she could help her people, and she is also aware that the only way to do that is from the inside, by consolidating the power she needs to remove the Fjern from the board; she also knows that the only way she can succeed may mean being as ruthless, if not more, than the oppressors, and if the bodies of her people must litter the islands and the sea, then so be it.
I really appreciated the twist that Callender employed in this book: a twist that is, in my opinion, very telling and very reflective of the perceptions of colonizers the world over.