My favorite thing about the Indie & Self-Published Author event going on this month has been getting a chance to talk to some authors I’m a HUGE fan of, as well as spreading the word about their amazing books! I’ve hosted E.L. Adams and A.K.Â HÃ¶st in previous weeks — for my last spotlight, I’m featuring the awesome Lindsay Buroker, author of the Emperor’s Edge series! Today I’m reviewing the first book, which was one of the first books I bought for my new eReader in 2011 and subsequently devoured in one sitting. By the way, it’s a FREE eBook so you have no excuse not to go grab it RIGHT NOW. Ahem.
TITLE: The Emperor’s Edge (The Emperor’s Edge, #1)
AUTHOR: Lindsay Buroker
GENRE: Fantasy (Steampunk!)
FORMAT: eBook, 324 pages
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.
I don’t care if you don’t read very much steampunk — I don’t even really care if you’re not a fan of steampunk at all. This book is simply too much fun for you to miss. I’ve encountered few casts of characters with as much chemistry despite their very obvious differences in personality; I have a reason for loving and growing attached to each and every one. As someone who’s been following the series for almost two years now, I just really can’t recommend it more. (Actually, finally reviewing this first book is making me all nostalgic. *sniff*)
For me, the characters are what make this series shine. Amaranthe Lokdon, tasked with hunting down the realm’s most notorious criminal, has pretty much figured out that it could be her last mission ever. Does it stop her? Nope. She’s resourceful, determined, and quite capable of turning an awkward situation into something that can benefit her cause. (Sure, those awkward situations are often the result of Amaranthe’s forays into vigilante crime fighting, but that’s irrelevant.) I like that one of the protagonist’s main strengths is being able to see beyond the surface, whether it’s a dangerous conspiracy or someone with a dark past. She assembles a team of unlikely allies, cutting right through to their potential rather than their reputations or their sins. She’s a firm believer in second chances. It’s only one reason why Amaranthe works as this group’s leader, and why I like her so much as a heroine.
Of course, I do enjoy the others too. (- insert pause here while Paola waves madly at Maldynado -) I would talk more about them, but this is only the first book and I really don’t want to take away from your reading experience. It’s more fun to meet them one by one, as Amaranthe recruits them. I love their banter, which is hilarious; dialogue is definitely one of the author’s strengths. And while the eventual camaraderie between Amaranthe and her team has been awesome to see, I also think their conflicts with one another — big and small — provide a lot of depth. They don’t always get along. In fact, several almost never see eye to eye on anything. Not everyone is easy to work with (cough Sicarius cough) and the deck is pretty much stacked against them from day one. But even complicated loyalties are still loyalties, and I’ve loved watching these characters develop over time.
Also, they make me laugh. A LOT. When I said this book (and the series) would be too much fun for you to miss, I really meant it. I know by now that it doesn’t matter if Amaranthe and co. are in harmony or discord, and it doesn’t matter what kind of scrape they’ve gotten themselves into, because it’s probably going to leave me laughing until I’m close to tears. That’s a huge part of why I’ve kept coming back to this series over the years. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have a healthy dose of explosions, dropping heavy objects on evildoers, and chasing after chickens.
I know a lot of people shy away from the steampunk genre because they’re worried about being overwhelmed with clockwork contraptions and technical details. Don’t worry about that with Emperor’s Edge, because the focus is definitely on the plot and the characters, set in a fantasy world that runs on steam. The world building never took over the story, and you’re given just enough history and structure to make sense of everything immediately going on in the world. None of the books I’ve read in the series has ever dragged for me. The pacing moves along at a pretty fast clip and there’s truly never a dull moment.
If you’re STILL hesitant to try self-published books, PLEASE give The Emperor’s Edge a try. The writing is high quality, the characters are unforgettable, and the plot has more than enough action, mystery, and humor to keep you entertained. Just don’t blame me if you become hopelessly addicted…
Come back tomorrow for an interview with author Lindsay Buroker and a giveaway of the first three books in the series, all rolled up into a handy omnibus edition! LISTEN TO ME WHEN I TELL YOU THAT YOU WANT THIS. And between now and tomorrow, you can take my advice and pick up a free eBook copy of the first installment! You won’t regret it! Currently free on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple | Kobo