Adam Walker is one of my conlanging and conworlding associates (he's writing a book of his own that I really looking forward to because it's going to be full of fascinating aliens), and he's written a review
of the two volumes of The Termite Queen
. He didn't like everything about it, but here is some of the good stuff he mentioned:
"The Termite Queen (vol. 1) and The Wound That Has No Healing (vol. 2) really are one long novel in two volumes. Volume one has a logical conclusion, but the story is far from over till the end of volume two. Each of the two volumes contains two parts.
"Personally I found volume 2 more satisfying, because I found the aliens, the "termites", more interesting than the humans. The Shshi are strange, as aliens should be, but relatable -- they plot against each other and have their customs and rituals and ways of doing things. Several of the Shshi are really fun characters, the scheming chamberlain, the child-like queen, the clever seer. Several of the warriors are especially complex as they are caught between duty and conscience trying to decide where their loyalties lie as the leadership of the termite city fractures."
[I like that because nobody before has noted the complexity of the psychology of Commander Hi'ta'fu, Chief Lo'lo'pai, and Lieutenant Ni'shto'pri.]
Adam goes on mention how he didn't like the romance part of the plot and then continues saying that nevertheless he really likes the book:
"Languages. I love languages. I invent languages as a hobby. And the Shshi language in this book is incredible. Not only is it alien, using a non-verbal modality (radio waves!), but the version we see in the text is actually an invented language that Our Heroine invents during the course of the book as in interface between the humans, who can't detect radio waves, and the Shshi who can't detect our languages."
[I like that because Adam is the first person to mention the language element that plays such a large part in the book -- the process of understanding how we really might communicate during humans' first contact with intelligent extraterrestrials.]
Adam gave it 4 stars and recommended it. Most of the reviews of TQ have been 4 star (I've had one 5-star on each of the two volumes, and a couple of 3-star on v.1 -- nothing lower). I'm satisfied with 4 stars because this book does have so many elements to it (romance, a journey into human psychology, emphasis on future history, space travel, several types of extraterrestrials, conlangs, a low-tech alien culture with a tradition of heroic single combat, etc.), With a book so heterogeneous, I'm sure everybody will find something that annoys them, but (I trust) also something to like!