Review: Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen (Samantha Sutton #2) by Jordan Jacobs


4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

A book about archaeologists? Boudicca? Set in Cambridge?

I’m sold.

This tale about a young girl who dreams of being an archaeologist one day is written by an archaeologist, and it shows. A fast-paced and thrilling adventure, packed full of historical and archaeological references, I loved this one! I only wish it had been around when I was Samantha’s age. The use of illustrations was a brilliant idea – at the beginning of every chapter we see a page of Samantha’s beloved notebook, which also provides information for those perhaps unsure of the period of history that the book covered, or unfamiliar with the city of Cambridge. For example, one page was a timeline of British history (complete with mini illustrations!) whilst another was a map of Cambridge, with all the colleges marked. Readers should not be put off by Samantha’s young age (she is twelve), in fact I think it makes her all the more interesting. Such determination and ambition at  that age makes for a great character, plus she’s naive enough to not completely understand and work things out right away, which leaves room for the reader to make their own judgements.

One thing I really loved were all the little references, nods to the amazing field that is archaeology (not at all biased here). The Pitt-Rivers twins: Augustus Pitt Rivers was a nineteenth century archaeologist, and his collection founded the basis of the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford, which also happens to be my favourite museum EVER (seriously, it’s amazing, it’s basically just a giant warehouse PACKED with amazing objects). The references to ancient burial places like Cairn and Barrows. Ned and Graham Aubrey, who I’m guessing were named after John Aubrey, discoverer of Avebury and an early archaeologist/antiquarian. Mostly things you wouldn’t know unless you’d studied archaeology yourself, which make for some wonderful little ‘in-jokes’ almost.

Of course, there were a few things I had to question – for example Samantha becomes coxswain of a Cambridge college rowing team, and I’m pretty sure you’d have to be a member of the college for that. And the ease at which items from the British Museum were borrowed. But these all made for some fun adventures, so are really just me nit-picking!

There may also be an issue with terminology, as Jacobs tends to use the proper archaeological terminology which may confuse those not familiar with it, although it was hard to judge as someone who is familiar – so it would be interesting to see a review from someone who doesn’t know anything about archaeology.

I’ve always been fascinated by the early history of Britain (as you can probably guess by my degree choice), and wrote a paper on Boudicca’s rebellion in my second year, so this was a subject close to my heart. Combine that with archaeologists and you pretty much get my perfect story. Overall, a fantastically fun adventure, that should appeal to anyone with an interest in archaeology or history, regardless of age!

Author Interview, Blog Tour

Blog Tour + Author Interview: Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen by Jordan Jacobs

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen by Jordan Jacobs, a middle-grade/young adult book about a young girl with a passion for archaeology.

If you know me, you’ll know that I studied archaeology and ancient history at university, and my ambition is to one day be a museum curator. So how could I turn down the chance to read a book about a young archaeologist, written by an archaeologist?

For the blog tour I have an interview with the author, Jordan Jacobs, and I’ll be posting my review of the book tomorrow. So let’s begin!


Rinn: I studied archaeology myself, and I LOVED all the little references hidden in the book, like the Pitt-Rivers twins and the Aubreys. Will this be a running theme through the rest of the books?

Jordan: I’m so pleased you caught those!  Yes, there are a lot of little “easter eggs” in Warrior Queen for those who have some background in archaeology. There were some in the first book, too, just as there will be in the third.  I had some fun with that, especially with finding archaeological terms that also work as names (Cairn, Barrows….)

Rinn: I spotted those too! I thought it was so clever. What inspired you to start writing fiction about archaeology and archaeologists?

Jordan: I wanted to write books that I would’ve loved to read as a kid.  I was initially drawn to the adventure aspects of archaeology, but feel strongly that my books should have a scientific component as well, so that young readers could get a sense of how the discipline actually works and why it is important.

Rinn: I loved the book at my age now, but I wish there’d been something like it when I was Samantha’s age too! Is Samantha influenced by your younger self at all? I love her enthusiasm and passion for archaeology.

Jordan: Oh, definitely.  But while my earliest impressions of archaeology leaned more towards the adventure side of things, Sam’s interest lies firmly in the science–which she has some real knowledge of, thanks to her archaeologist uncle.

Rinn: So far, Samantha’s travels have taken her to the Peruvian Andes and Cambridge. Where do you think she’ll go next?

Jordan: I know precisely where she’s headed… but I’m not telling!  I’ll just say that it’s somewhere very different from the first two settings, and involves an aspect of archaeology that Samantha has never encountered before.

Rinn: Experimental archaeology? GIS? Thermoluminescence dating? *throws around random terms* What periods of history or particular locations would you love to write about next?

Jordan: Well, next up is Samantha Sutton Book 3.  But historical fiction is something I’d love to attempt.  I’ve always been fascinated by contact stories: the first English delegations to the Mughal court, Esteban’s arrival at Zuni… these incredible moments in human history where two vastly different worldviews encounter one another and are forever changed.

Rinn: Those are also moments I don’t know much about, so I’d definitely be interested in reading more about them. How did you go about researching for the books? Were they already time periods/locations you’d researched previously or perhaps dug at?

Jordan: All the books are set in places where I’ve worked, studied, or spent a significant amount of time. As an undergraduate, I lived in the Peruvian Andes for a summer-long project. I did my graduate archaeology work at Cambridge, so I know the area well. This made research much much easier, because much of it I’d done years before–and for course credit!

Rinn: I can tell you all about Silchester if you ever feel like writing about it, haha! That’s where I worked throughout university. What is your usual writing process? Do you like to stick to a schedule?

Jordan: With a toddler at home and a full-time job, I don’t have the luxury of a schedule. But I happily write whenever I can (a glance at my clock tells me that it’s 5:30am right now. Yikes!).

Rinn: Eek, that’s dedication! Well thank you very much for taking some time to answer these questions. If you were given a time machine, where and when would you go and why?

Jordan: I’d love a glimpse of Plantagenet England.  I’m sort of a Richard the Lionheart groupie–though I don’t think we’d have similar views on anything–and it would be interesting to see how things functioned in his time.  But I’m also a fan of Back to the Future, and would know to be extremely cautious (rift in the space time continuum and all that).  I might just stick my head out for a second or two.  I don’t think I’d linger long.

Rinn: This is more of a personal question, as someone who is going on to study museum studies and heritage. I see that you have worked at many museums and for many heritage organisations – what advice would you give to someone interested in that field?

Jordan: Network. Request informational interviews.  It’s the kind of work that draws passionate people, and it’s important that employers can sense your commitment to the field.

Rinn: Thank you so much for that advice! And finally, which historical figures would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?

Jordan: Ada Lovelace, Howard Carter, Gustav Mahler, and Boudica (before her troubles began). I’d make burgers.

About the Author

Jordan Jacobs

The author with Richard I.

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 13, 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.

Thank you so much to Jordan for letting me interview him, and to the publisher/Netgalley for a copy of the book.

Are you a fan of archaeology or books based around historical events? Give Samantha Sutton and the Winter of the Warrior Queen a try!