Thursday, July 18, 2013

New feature: Book Reviews- The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

Okay, readers. I'm adding something new to the blog. I'm shooting to post a monthly book review. Most of what you see will probably be podiobooks I've listened to, since I have more time to listen to my iPod than to sit and read a dead-tree book. I'm hoping to post a review every month going forward. Formats may change as time goes on and I get more comfortable doing reviews, and I'm sure I'll eventually come up with some sort of rating system, but for now, I'm staying with the basics. 

My first review is of the book The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker.

Amaranthe Lokdon is an enforcer, a sort of policeman for the empire. When her heroicism gets her noticed by the young emperor Sespian, she gets trusted with the task of killing an assassin and eventually put on a path that leads her to try to bring down the entire economy of the empire, betraying the very laws she's always trusted and enforced.

That was my summary. Here's the summary I got from the author's website


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.

The Emperor's Edge is a classic story of wrestling with morality, where right does not always equal good. It could be argued that it demonstrates how everyone has a price, but I don't believe that's really what Buroker was trying to convey. I see Amaranthe's journey as one showing the lengths a person can and will go to to protect something she believes in. This is a story about the power of dedication.

This was most definitely a book driven by its characters. The cast is very solid and well-developed. Even though the cast is male-dominated, the fact that the main protagonist is female helps balance a supporting cast filled with Y chromosomes. And it really is balanced. Amaranthe does not sink among the strong men she finds herself surrounded with: Sicarius, Books, Maldynado, Akstyr, and Hollowcrest, to name a few. She's neither overpowered by them nor does she overpower them (except when she bosses them around, but that's something you have to experience through the book itself). Her antagonist(s) are wonderful foils for her, and her supporters mesh with her without losing themselves.

I did not read The Emperor's Edge. I listened to it via I don't feel like I missed anything by listening to it. It was not a fullcast production, but the story didn't need it. The vocal performance was simple but the reader did an amazing job giving the male characters their own lilts to help tell them apart. True to his lot in life, Maldynado had a certain smarmy quality to his voice. Akstyr sounded young and sulky. I could, for the most part, tell the characters apart without needing the "he said, she said" dialogue tags. The narrator, Starla Huchton, was spectacular. I listened to the book primarily at work, and she was easy to listen to and understand without taking too much of my brainpower away from my job. 

My thoughts
When I realized The Emperor's Edge was the first book of a series, I immediately went in search of the next two books. There are a few more out than that, but as my predominant form of reading right now is podcasts, I'm glad to see that the next two books are available on podcast, as well. I can't wait to get further into the story, to hang out with the team again, and to hear it all performed by the wonderful Starla Hutchton. Whether you read this on Kindle, listen to it, or get an old-fashioned printed book, you're not going to miss out on some amazing adventure, some phenomenal characters, or just an all-around great reading experience by checking out The Emperor's Edge.

Would I recommend it? Definitely.

I would like to point out to all of you that, as of right now, this book is FREE at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, and Kobo. You can't beat free!

The narrator, Starla Huchton, can be found here I have yet to read anything of hers, but believe me, she is on the list. The frighteningly extensive list. But I've heard her read, and I've listened to her on several podcasts, and she's a name I'm keeping an eye on.

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