Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Feature - The Emperor's Edge

 The Emperor's Edge
Lindsay Buroker

Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.

Worse, Sicarius, the empire's most notorious assassin is in town. He's tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills... or someone wants her dead.
This is a mystery/adventure fantasy novel in an urban setting that reminded me of an 1800s London or New York. I wouldn't call it steampunk or swords & sorcery but it has elements of both. The story is fairy fast-paced and there isn't a ton of the world-building you often see in the fantasy epics (religion is only lightly touched upon and magic is mostly in the hands of the enemies so it's not a big part of the story), but I didn't mind. The characters were what made this an enjoyable read for me. I was pleased when I read the epilogue because it was clearly setting things up for future novels with these guys (this works fine as a standalone story though).

Amaranthe, the main character, started out as something of a goody-two-shoes, quoting regulations at the criminals she was arresting, but she grew a lot as the story went along, and she was the one leading the team and coming up with the schemes in the end. I liked that she was a strong female character but not boringly so (no uber skills that let her hack down legions of soldiers single-handedly). She can handle herself in a fight, but she's just as likely to scheme her way out of trouble.

Sicarius, the other main character, is everything you'd expect from an assassin, but he felt quite original as well, and I was even more intrigued by the mystery surrounding him than the main plot mysteries. One of the big questions about him does get answered by the end of the book (I was close with my guess, but didn't get it quite right), but it left me with new questions that better be answered in following books! The author did a nice job making me like him and sympathize with him even though he's arguably still more of a villain than a hero in the end.

The relationship between these two was what I really enjoyed. I have to admit I was hoping for a kiss by the end, but if things are going that direction, it'll have to be in a future book.

Author bio:
I've been writing fantasy novels and short stories since I was seven. I've been finishing them since... well, that's a more recent development.
I'm a professional blogger for my day job, and I live in the Seattle area. I have two vizslas who are as spoiled as most people's kids. Occasionally they let me leave the house to play tennis, go to the coffee shop, or take a yoga class.

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