When I find a series I really like, I find it fun…no, my duty to talk about it and let others know what they’re missing by not reading it. This is the main reason over starting a Book Review section to the Almost Relevant website. While we don’t plan on having a regularly scheduled book review, as neither me nor Elliott have a steady reading schedule, we plan on putting them out when a book or series catches our eye so strongly that we just have to get the word out.
Before I get into the review itself, I want to state that this review was originally written for my old website, A Writer’s Struggle, and then transferred over here after a round of edits. While the core website is still intact over there, it will be archived and hidden from search engines very soon. All of the content will slow by migrated between this website and my writing website, Steam Powered Dreams.
With that said, here is the review!
The Emperor’s Edge is set in the Turgonian Empire during somewhat of an industrial revolution. Steam-powered machines are common, especially for transportation, and technology is starting to evolve, maybe quicker than it should. The capital city is large with very little nature and was built on (or near, I forget) the previous civilization. The Turgonian’s took much of the land on this continent by force and have since ruled over it, deeming other races as somewhat lower class than themselves. They have forbidden “Magic”, which is actually a form of science that uses the mind. It is considred not only against the law, but anyone even heard talking about it are dealt with swiftly. The Turgonian Empire swears that the mental sciences does not exist, despite the fact that it is prevelant in all other parts of the world. The truth comes out that past emperor’s were scared of it’s power, and the lack of ability within the Turgonians.
The capital of the empire is policed by Enforcers, a group of trained men and women who keep the peace. While women are generally not allowed to advance the ranks, Corporal Amaranthe Lokdon strives to be the best. She is a smart woman who strives to do the right thing. She had been enrolled in business school like most women within the empire, but her father became sick and passed away, forcing her to drop out and become an Enforcer.
After a chance encounter with Emperor Sespian, she is summoned by Commander of the Armies Hollowcrest, the highest ranking member of the military, who has a very important task for her; seduce and kill the most infamous assassin of their time, Sicarius! With the chance to be the first woman enforcer promoted, she takes the job, wondering if she had a choice in the first place.
Having a few contacts in the underground, she puts the word out that she’s looking for him to handle some business and they set up a meeting. He didn’t become the best by being a fool and sees right through her lies, telling her to leave him alone. Giving up on that tactic, she decides the only way to kill him is if she could surprise him. As he’s walking away, she notices the dirt on his shoes and she recognizes it as a type of clay found near a tunnel on a lake path. This gives her an idea, if she could find a good vantage point above the cave entrance she would only have to wait for him to appear and she could shoot him.
She finds a nice spot on top of a bank and settles in to wait for him, not knowing when, or if, he’ll ever show up.
Before she knew what happened, Sicarius had his hands around her throat, choking her to death! The bracelet, a present from the Emperor, slipped from underneath her sleeve and he stopped, allowing her to live. She didn’t know why it meant anything to him, but thought it may be the key to getting his help. How is this man connected to the Emperor? Why did Hollowcrest hire her, knowing it would lead to her death? You’ll have to read the book for that, but there is more going on within the Empire than Amaranthe could ever have imagined!
The Review (Spoiler Free)
The Emperor’s Edge world has a steampunk overtone (although Lindsay Buroker has said she didn’t think of it that way at first), a strong female protagonist, and an awesome assassin all within the first few chapters! By the time you get into this story, you’ll have a hard time putting it down and you will find yourself constantly wondering what’s going to happen next. This isn’t true just for the plot, but also the characters themselves! Each one has a story of their own, something that unfolds in each of the books. Buroker writers characters similar to the way I do, that is to say she develops them through the plot slowly instead of through a lot of background. You learn about the characters as they learn about themselves. What you do learn about their background is usually done in a way that makes it part of the story, not just thrown in there so you can ‘understand’ better, and that’s a good thing!
The world she has created starts out small and centered, but becomes vast as she adds more information. By the third or fourth book, you began to understand how much turmoil is really going on and why the Empire isn’t really a peaceful place. It was an interesting decision to make the main character an enforcer-turned-outlaw who was running from the very empire she was trying to save, but it works, probably better than expected. Of course the characters really aren’t bad people, even Sicarius, but caught up in somewhat of an civil war within the Empire.
It wasn’t more than a few minutes after I got done with the first book that I purchased the second. As I inched my way towards that point, I was thankful that there were 4 more published and two more on the way! I wanted to know more about the characters, especially Sicarius! He’s a mysterious character that has been done right. You’re never sure exactly what he’s thinking, despite how straight forward his attitude is, but you can’t imagine it’s good for anyone who gets in his way.
One of the overarching themes of this series is how Amaranthe not only gained the help of Sicarius but gained his trust as well. It’s something that was easy to see coming, but the more and more it developed, the more I felt invested in their story. Since this post focuses strictly on the first book, I’ll just say that by the end, you really wonder what his intentions are.
As I was saying above, I felt that the characters really drove the first book while the plot was a bit weak. This was Lindsay Buroker’s first book and was independently published. This in no way is a negative thing, as I still hold it to the same standards that I would a traditionally published one.
This is to say the single-book plot seemed like it was almost an afterthought put in there to bring a beginning to the overarching story (which becomes a whole lot more obvious in book 2) and introduce the characters. This doesn’t ruin the overall quality of the book nor does it hurt the series as a whole, but it’s worth pointing out. Maybe this was intentional by Buroker because Amaranthe comes up with the craziest and most unlikely schemes, and that’s kind of how the plot felt.
With that said, I still highly recommend this book, even more so because it’s absolutely FREE! You can find all the available links, plus an excerpt, on her website HERE.
The Review (Spoilers!)
So that’s it for the first book. As I said above the spoilers, I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy/scifi/steampunk. I will be writing reviews for each of the books in the series, along with books in her other (but related) series because I feel they all tie in together.
I didn’t want to reveal too much, even with a spoiler tag, because there is a lot of great twists in this book.
Just to reiterate, I absolutely LOVE this series and Lindsay Buroker herself has been a huge inspiration to me and my own writing.