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The One-Armed Queen cover The One-Armed Queen by Jane Yolen

Published by Tor Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

The One-Armed Queen by Jane Yolen is the third book in her White Jenna fantasy series. It is set a number of years after the first two books, and deals primarily with the children of Jenna and Corum. In the first part, Jemson is sent across the water to become a hostage to the court of the Garuns, while a Garunian prince comes to the Dales in exchange. Many years later, the hostage princes are returned to their homes. Jemmie has undergone a terrible change, becoming cruel and hard like the people among whom he has lived for the last several years.

When Jenna and Corum disappear among the mysterious forest people called the Grenna (shades of King Arthur here, since it is said they will return in the time of the Dales' greatest need), Jemson usurps the throne from his sister Scilla (the one-armed queen of the title) and proceeds to rule with an iron hand, backed by a Garunian force. He imprisons his gentle brother Corrine and eventually tortures him to death. After that, Jemmie goes mad and refuses to allow the corpse to be buried. Scilla then rouses a company of loyal followers to oust Jemmy and restore peace to the land.

This novel follows the interesting format of the earlier two books, interweaving the primary narrative with bits of myth, legend, and the writings of a historian living hundreds of years later, when the account of those times has become tangled, and is further distorted by the views and agendas of the historians researching it. (This section is particularly amusing for those who are familiar with a number of other sf/fantasy authors, since Yolen has slipped their names into the text as the names of various other scholars supposedly working on the history of the Dales).

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Review posted July 20, 1999

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