Thursday, January 2, 2014


Title: Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen
Author: Jordan Jacobs
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: From Publisher via NetGalley
My rating: 4/5


A secret society, a lost fortress, a precious artifact only Samantha Sutton can protect.

Twelve-year-old Samantha Sutton isn't sure she wants to go to England with her Uncle Jay, a brilliant, risk-taking archeologist. But the trip seems safe enough--a routine excavation in Cambridge--and Samantha has always had a love for the past.

At first the project seems unremarkable--just a survey to clear the way for a massive theme park. But everything changes when Sam uncovers something extraordinary. Are the local legends true? Is this the site of the ancient fortress belonging to Queen Boudica, the warrior queen? What treasures might be found?

When others begin to learn of her findings, Samantha senses she is in danger. Can any of her friends be trusted? Samantha will need to solve the mystery of the site in order to protect herself and let the world know of her remarkable discovery.


What I expected from this book isn’t what I got, but still it was an enjoyable and interesting story. I expected something in the lines of Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones; loads of danger, adventure and mindboggling new discoveries. It does have a hint of danger, adventure and a handful of interesting discoveries, but not as much I was hoping there would be.

Nonethelees, this is after all a novel aimed at middle grade readers and I expect they would find this a uniquely adventurous read. The story is off to a slow start and only picks up somewhere around the middle. The last part towards the ending is quite suspenseful. The characters and world-building was done exceptionally well and I especially enjoyed the Inceni Society’s antics and mischievousness. However, I felt that the Warrior Queen’s story being told by way of Samantha’s dreams was a bit of a cop-out. It should’ve been in the form of a conversation between Samantha and any of the other characters, and not a dream.

I haven’t read the previous Samantha Sutton novel, so I can safely say that this one can be read as a stand-alone. References are made to the previous book, and though it tickled my curiosity as to the events that took place in the first Samantha Sutton novel, I didn’t feel like I missed out on any important details. Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen is an engaging read filled with interesting archaeological tidbits which I’d recommend to all Middle Grade readers. It’s a book that will be enjoyed by both boys and girls.




There are very few typical days in archaeology, partly because there are so many kinds of archaeologists in the world.  Some are linked to universities--as students, lecturers, and professors-- teaching and writing through the academic year, and doing their fieldwork in the summers. Others work in cultural resource management, trying to save archaeological information before construction destroys it. There are archaeologists who work in museums, too, drawing new information from old collections, and those who work for governments or foundations dedicated to protecting sites or promoting responsible tourism.

But even within each of these broad categories, the “typical” day can vary: from project to project, or even week to week.  Cultural resource management, in my experience, is a job of long hours, tough conditions, and hard, physical work. The key is speed--huge budgets are on the line--and it’s hard not to feel rushed. Still, the standard is high. Archaeologists who do this kind of work quickly learn to adapt--becoming experts at paperwork, and at recording whatever they can despite the conditions, before it’s lost forever.

University archaeology is probably the kind that comes to mind for most people, since the big, famous excavations that make the news tend to be linked to university work. While there are logistical details to be worked out in academic projects--some of them quite complicated--it’s still the drive for knowledge that typically sets the agenda. Museum work, too, is hugely varied.  Some museum archaeologists are constantly in the collection, examining the long-held objects themselves, or in the library, researching other sources for information. Still others work in presenting archaeological information for the public, or consult with descendant communities who have a stake in how artifacts should be used, treated, or displayed, or whether they should remain in museums, at all.

Linking all these experiences, though, is a certain kind of thrill.  Whether excavating high in the Andes or under a grim, California freeway, whether deep in a museum’s storage facility or plotting out a walkway through a Bronze Age necropolis, there’s an excitement that comes in dealing with what past people have left behind. It’s humbling work.  It’s weighty.  But it’s also a reminder of the humanity that all people share, no matter where--or when--we live.


Jordan Jacobs has loved archaeology for as long as he can remember. His childhood passion for mummies, castles and Indiana Jones led to his participation in his first excavation, at age thirteen, in California's Sierra Nevada. After completing a high school archaeology program in the American Southwest, he followed his passion through his education at Stanford, Oxford, and Cambridge. Since then, Jordan's work for the Smithsonian, the American Museum of Natural History and UNESCO Headquarters in Paris has focused on policy and the protection of archaeological sites in the developing world.

Jordan's research and travel opportunities have taken him to almost fifty countries-- from Cambodia's ancient palaces, to Tunisia's Roman citadels, to Guatemala's Mayan heartland and the voodoo villages of Benin.
Jordan now works as Head of Cultural Policy at UC Berkeley's Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter.

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