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Sunday, September 25, 2011

“The Emperor's Edge” by Lindsay Buroker (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Order “The Emperor’s EdgeHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Read FBC’s Review of “Encrpted

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Lindsay Buroker is a writer who was influenced by J.A. Konrath to become a self-published author. She has a B.A from the University of Washington and also served in the military. Nowadays she works as an independent Internet professional and lives in the greater Seattle area. She has written six books so far including Encrypted and Flash Gold.

PLOT SUMMARY: 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.

FORMAT/INFO: The Kindle edition 318 pages long divided over twenty-one chapters and an Epilogue. Narration is evenly divided in the third-person omniscient chapters between Amaranthe Lokdon and Emperor Sespian Savarsin. The plot is completely self-contained, but is the first book of the Emperor’s Edge series.

ANALYSIS: Liviu Suciu previously reviewed Lindsay Buroker’s novel Encrypted on FBC, which is how I became interested in the author’s work. So when I heard about The Emperor’s Edge, a fantasy-steampunk hybrid, I immediately bought a copy on Amazon.

The Emperor’s Edge is set in the capital city of the Turgonian Empire, which is ruled by science and refutes magic as an unworthy practice. It is also facing tension across its borders from the country of Nuria where magic is given free rein. Into this backdrop, reader are immediately introduced to Amaranthe Lokdon, a lowly corporal stuck on patrol duty with her lazy partner Wholt. Readers are also introduced to Emperor Sespian Savarsin, who is trying to get back on his feet, while Commander Hollowcrest helps him rule the empire. During a routine patrol, Amaranthe and Wholt discover a suspicious fire that spirals out of control. Soon after, events occur which pull Amaranthe from her normal duties as an imperial enforcer to hunting down Sicarius, the most dangerous assassin in the world. And thus the plot to this fantastical story begins...

Instead of going for an all-original idea, Lindsay Buroker has taken an oft-used concept and presented it with her own additions. So even though The Emperor’s Edge is described as a “high fantasy novel in the era of steam”, the book comes across as a campy fantasy adventure hybrid . In fact, what I liked most about the novel was its campy feel, which includes characters and situations often cropping up to delude the protagonists of their well thought-out but slightly improper plans. This kept me chuckling constantly as the humor quotient is kept at a remarkably steady level. Granted, the story sometimes takes silly turns, but the plot twists and Lindsay Buroker’s writing make these moments entertaining rather than overtly stupid.

Another important factor for me was the great characterization. Even though there are only two POVs in The Emperor’s Edge, there are several supporting characters involved in the main plot and the author makes sure each one is unique, if not a bit stereotypical, but I think that was more for comedic effect. Amaranthe though is the most well-rounded character in the book, as readers are shown a close look at her down-to-earth, hard working personality; her thoughts; and using her tenacity and gift of persuasion to overcome the challenges in her life. Not only that, but Amaranthe is the emotional core of the book. Be it her interactions with Sicarius, Books, Maldynado, etc.; her calm nature; or her deductive ability; Amaranthe comes across as a heroic persona.

Sicarius is another intriguing character, but not many details are revealed about him. Hopefully the author will rectify this in the sequel. World-building is also very impressive with the world of The Emperor’s Edge brought to life through vivid descriptions. Lastly, there’s no quasi-European feel to this novel. So instead of the usual medieval routine, Lindsay Buroker offers readers a more tropical setting highlighted by racial diversity.

Not everything about The Emperor’s Edge is rosy however. The plot for instance, is very linear, not to mention predictable, while secondary characters possess clear-cut agendas and are pretty much black and white.

CONCLUSION: After reading just one book—the very fun and entertaining fantasy adventure hybrid that is The Emperor’s Edge—I’ve become a Lindsay Buroker fan and can’t wait to read the rest of her series. For anyone who loves David Eddings, Terry Brooks and Rachel Aaron, The Emperor’s Edge is a book I heartily recommend to you...


Anonymous said...

Podcast in progress:

So far chapter 1-8

Lindsay Buroker said...

Thanks for the write-up, Mihir! :)

Mihir said...

@ Anonymous

Thanks for the podcast update :)

@ Lindsay

Glad to :) I'm looking forward to review Dark Currents in the next few weeks as well. Hope your writing for book III is going well.

Lindsay Buroker said...

Book 3 is in the works!

And thanks for mentioning the podcast, Anonymous. We've got new episodes going up every week (all free to listen to), and I'm planning to do the whole series eventually.


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