Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: Empire of Bones by Terry Mixon

Jared Mertz, bastard son of the Emperor, is finally about to escape the occasional forced companionship of his half brother, Ethan. He's in charge of Athena, a ship going to explore the fallen Empire. At the last moment, his half-sister, Kelsey, joins the expedition as deputy Ambassador.
On the other side of space, in a long lost star system, they find themselves caught in a war between descendants of the ancient Empire and savages called "Pale Ones." And worse, it looks like the technology that got them here isn't going to get them home again.

That's my summary. Here's the ones I pulled from the author's website
Commander Jared Mertz, the bastard son of the Emperor, and his half-sister, Princess Kelsey, barely speak to one another. To their dismay, their father seizes an opportunity to change that and sends them on a dangerous quest to explore the fallen Empire.
Separated from home by an impassable gulf and struggling to redefine their relationship, they find themselves thrust into a vicious war. Unless they work together to stop the Empire’s deadly legacy, billions face a horrific fate.
Mixon has developed a rather interesting setting for a space opera novel. Our main characters' people used to have high technological space travel, but during a war, much was lost. Their ancestors survived to get to a new planet, but they had to start over developing it. Only in the last 100 years have they again achieved flight among the stars. Still, since their history proved its possibility, they were working on the theory long before they had the practical details hammered out. That led to their advancement moving quickly once they broke atmospheric limitations. It also gave them some great legends and history to search for in the galaxy.

Mixon writes clearly without too much florid detail. As such, he leaves much to the imagination of the reader for what these ships and sci-fi locales look like. I didn't feel as though I was missing much, really, as the focus is more on the characters and their actions than on the world they live in. That even goes for what I'll call the "other side" of the star system. We don't really get a ton of description on anything, but I still never felt like things were too stark or barren. The people are the real gems here, with clear characterization and deep personalities. Mixon's lack of scene-painting kept the book from being too lengthy, which I do consider a plus. I was able to really sink into conversations and action, rather than having to orient myself with places and ship layouts.

My Thoughts
I thoroughly enjoyed Empire of Bones. I want to go on record to say that it has one of the best (if not the best) character plot twists I've ever come across. And, it was even fairly early in the book. It had me giddy. No spoilers, but I will say it makes me very eager to see what becomes of this character and this secret later in the series.
On the whole, I felt that this book was surprisingly laid back, at least to read (I listened to it through Audible, actually), but it still felt very chill. I was on edge, but it wasn't a heart-racing, nail-biting on edge. I was eager, curious, and excited, much like the characters at the prospect of exploration. Basically, I was invested with these characters, and that was established early on for me.
Personally, I do think the book ended too soon for the story itself. I haven't gotten to book 2 yet, so I feel odd saying this, but I have a feeling that I would be more satisfied if both books were combined into one. Considering Empire of Bones runs at around 7 hours of audio, doubling that wouldn't make the book too freakishly long. I guess we'll see what I think when I get to the next book.

Would I Recommend This Book? It's definitely worth a listen/read! I wasn't so bogged down in science that I lost sight of plot or character. In fact, characters were what this book was all about! I'm looking forward to the next one in the series. I give Empire of Bones a flipped 4 of 5 stars.
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