ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Review of She Who Waits

Updated on March 30, 2020
satomko profile image

Seth Tomko is a writer, college-level educator, and adventurer.

The covers of the Low Town novels
The covers of the Low Town novels | Source

Low Town watches as there is a changing of the guard. As political players and institutions jockey for power, Warden sees the writing on the wall and decides to make a play that will see him and the few people he cares about escape before the impending social chaos takes hold. Before he can get clear of Low Town, though, he has to set up his rivals, find a way to leverage himself away from the watch of the secret police of Black House, and deal with the sudden reappearance of Albertine, the woman who helped cause his downfall. Warden rushes to secure what he can, but a lifetime of misdeeds has created a long list of enemies who all want to take a shot at a man they sees as older, weaker, and ready to fall.

Behind All Things

As with other books in the Low Town series, Polansky makes sure She Who Waits has a number of elements in its favor. Rigus—and Low Town in particular—is an evocative setting of decaying industrialized urban grandeur. Standard tropes from crime noir and fantasy stories are twisted until they meet in interesting if not always new ways. This setting has remained a primary aspect of intrigue through all books in part because Polansky remains willing to show off different element of it each time. By the halfway point of She Who Waits, Low Town has essentially become it own character and perhaps the main draw of the book in the same way that New Crobuzon overwhelms the characters of China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station.

Also in the novel’s favor is its pace. The book almost never lags as Warden moves from one point to another, determined to come out on top at all costs. The gallery of side characters helps keep everything interesting even if they frequently don’t get enough space to become more substantial instead of being just side notes in Warden’s activities. The sense of constant motion, however, keeps the reader moving forward through the novel.

From the novel's cover image by Rhett Podersoo
From the novel's cover image by Rhett Podersoo | Source

Graveyards Full of Boys Who Wore the Crown

Several parts of the story significantly hinder the book. Primarily, Warden is unlikable at a subatomic level, making it difficult for many readers to care about his concerns. His actions as a drug dealer, manipulator and all-around thug are largely forgivable; the real problem is that he rarely aspires to anything more. For instance, in Joe Abercrombie’s novels even characters as ruthless or depraved as Logan Ninefingers, Caul Shivers, and Nicomo Cosca aspire to be better than they are, even if the means by which they try to make themselves better often backfire. It is only in the few instances where Warden puts the needs of others ahead of himself does he seem worth following. Similarly, his abrasiveness becomes tiring. Because he is so aggressive in his tough guy persona, remarks that would sound witty coming from Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe come across as insulting or even like a caricature. Warden overshoots and finds himself in the over the top company of Mike Hammer. His caustic personality coupled with his general lack of positive ambition doesn’t leave many handholds to give a reader purchase.

Another problem comes from the plot. Low Town and Tomorrow, the Killing also had complicated plots, having more in common with noir detective novels than high fantasy. While the resolution of the previous novels may not always have been satisfactory, they had a line of logic the reader could follow as Warden delved deeper into the problems. She Who Waits abandons one plot about rival narcotics gangs that Warden is setting up in favor of a convoluted espionage plot that has been in the background. The shift widens the scope of the novel and not necessarily for the better. Warden goes from neighborhood crime kingpin to manipulator of international politics too quickly, especially because the story is at it most satisfying when Warden is matching wits and weapons with Crowley, Egmont, Uriel, or Toussaint.

On a related note, Albertine is criminally underdeveloped. For a character who was a central aspect of Warden’s life, the reader is given exceptionally little in the way of explanation or reasoning as to why her connection with him should be so important. She is less developed than the Old Man of Black House, who is something of a stock boogey man secret intelligence figure. Albertine’s return to Rigus and distant involvement with the happenings of the novel would likely make more sense with better context, and it would give weight to her situation with Warden, which the reader is told rather than show is important several times. Without any evidence to make it more real, though, the relationship between her and Warden comes across as hollow rather than important and a rare emotional spot for a character that tries so hard to be made of stone.

A World Full of Hard Men

She Who Waits is another fine entry in the Low Town series, and any readers looking for a different take on the fantasy genre could do a lot worse than to give the whole series a read. Even fans of more traditional fantasy novels will want to give Polansky's books a try so long as they don’t mind tagging along with an anti-hero.


Polansky, Daniel. She Who Waits. London; Hoddor & Stoughton, 2014.

© 2015 Seth Tomko


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)