I was kindly given an e-copy of this via NetGalley by Quercus Books in exchange for an honest review.
Emperor Constant is dead and his rivals are scrabbling for power – but any misstep could plunge the land, already devastated by the shocking outcome of the Third Crusade, into a calamitous civil war.
The Imperial throne is not the only one in jeopardy. Two brothers, imprisoned veterans of the Crusades, finally return home to find their father’s kingdom being plundered – but the price of regaining their birthright will have far-reaching implications for the entire empire.
In the East, Sultan Salim, peacemaker and visionary ruler, faces his greatest challenge as his people demand an invasion of the West in retribution for the Rondian Crusades
And lurking in the darkness, orchestrating both the power struggles and the inevitable conflicts, is a shadowy group threatening to destroy civilisation itself.
Once more, Urte stands on the brink of cataclysm.
I REALLY wanted to like this book. I really did. I thought “Yes, finally, an epic I can get behind!” but sadly… this left me wanting.
There were about 5 pages (on kindle) of lore and explanations and history before you even get to chapter one. And then when we got into the book, there were about 50 different names, titles, places etc to get to grips with. And as a person who mostly reads at night, tucked up in bed, where the tasks of the day can’t take me away from me-time, I lost track very quickly.
Like, I don’t know why I need to know every single player so early on, or the world in names. Give me the world in sights and feelings first, interactions. Give me more than just “Bravaa of the inter-sectional troupe of Delivarr, who answers to Numpty Dora…” (it wasn’t as bad as that example but so. many. names).
Lord of the Rings has tons of names, right? And lore and history. But the way Tolkien delivered those names – ie, taking his time and making sure we understood where we were at the start of it rather than throwing around the entire Middle Earth’s information at us – eased us in so we felt more involved.
I felt the same with Empress as I did with Game Of Thrones. so I guess in that example it’s pretty accurate – I did not care at all about any of the names thrown at me. And I DNF’ed that one pretty quickly.
Make no mistake, apart from the onslought of information, the writing is good and I appreciated the threads of story I got in the end, but the beginning left a lasting impression of confusion and I ended up DNF’ing this at 29%.