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Rogue Queen Themes

Love is explored in detail in Rogue Queen. At the start of the novel, love for the Community of Elham dominates Iroedh's life. Iroedh is an Avtini, a humanlike race on the planet Ormazd. The Avtini are all divided into Communities. Each Community has one fertile female, the Queen, who lays the eggs from which the Avtini are hatched. Each Queen is serviced by twelve to sixteen drones, who are executed when they show signs of age. New-hatched males are also killed in order to restrict the number of adult drones to a dozen or so. A community has about two hundred "workers," who are sexually undeveloped females. Iroedh is one of these.

Iroedh has come to love Antis, a drone who is near his turn to be killed during a "cleanup." Neither of them recognize their feelings as romantic love until late in the novel. So strong is Iroedh's attachment to Elham that she acknowledges to Antis that she might kill him should he try to escape from the Community. Into Iroedh's life come explorers from Earth, who introduce her to the concept of romantic love, which at first seems unappealing. Winston Bloch and his assistant Barbe Dulac are in love but are hounded by the jealous O'Mara who had been briefly engaged to Dulac. Iroedh witnesses Bloch and O'Mara fighting and O'Mara's consequent death in a fall over a precipice. No two members of the same Avtini Community would ever fight each other as Bloch and O'Mara did. Therefore, Iroedh is confused by the love of Bloch and Dulac.

Her education begins with the passionate novel A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Statton Porter (1909; see separate entry). It introduces her to the notion that the love between a man and a woman can be greater than the love for a Community. During her adventures, she runs great risks to save Antis and witnesses the normally timid Bloch battle a fearsome beast when his beloved Dulac is threatened. Romantic love, she learns, can inspire people to perform great feats.

Love appears in other ways, as well. There is the selfish love of O'Mara, the emotionally empty sexual love between drone and queen, and the love of power exhibited by Queen Estir and the rogue drone Wythias. In addition, there is the love between friends that inspires the junior worker Vardh to violate her Community's most sacred taboos and save Iroedh's life by killing Queen Estir. O'Mara's selfish love destroys him. The frigid sexual relationship between drones and their queen brought spiritual sterility to the heart of the Community. Queen Estir's love of power made her treacherous and contemptible, and it alienated all of her Community's potential allies. Wythias' love of power made him deaf to reason and turned his followers against him. In the end, true friendship and romantic love triumph over all obstacles. Full of danger and deep emotions, these two kinds of love have the power to liberate spirits—to inspire art, literature, and music, and to save a culture that was sinking into barbarism.