To find new writers, I decided to cunningly download several free books by people whose books had been downloaded by readers who also had a look the first episode of Wandering Phoenix and Roaming Tiger. One of these was The Emperor’s Edge, by Lindsay Buroker.
It’s a steampunk novel, the first in a series. Steampunk isn’t my usual fare but I’m not averse so I thought I’d give it a crack.
Having recently finished, I’m glad I did. The characters are engaging, the plot well-paced, and the writing style as relaxing as listening to Beethoven in the bath.
The protagonist is Amaranthe Lokdon, one of few female enforcers (policemen) in the Turgonian capital, nicknamed Stumps. When the notorious assassin Sicarius* returns to the capital, Amaranthe is a bit perturbed to find herself tasked with bringing him down. But all is not as it seems…
The other, secondary, POV character is the youthful and academically minded emperor, Sespian. At odds with his militant commander (and regent in all but name) Hollowcrest, Sespian struggles to steer the empire away from a military mindset and towards a more peaceful, scholarly path. Naturally, this sets him on a collision course with Hollowcrest.
The meat of the story is Amaranthe’s efforts, together with a small band of rogues, to uncover conspiracy at the heart of the empire and keep Sespian safe. One thing I enjoyed a lot was the characterisation. The cast’s fairly small which gives each character space to develop a little, which works very well as the author has done a very good job making the dialogue and character interactions feel realistic. In short, they have charm and that, mingled with the easy writing style, makes the book effortlessly enjoyable to read.
I’ve taken to reading a physical book during the day and a chapter or two of an e-book at night and, even when I was feeling slightly tired or cantankerous, The Emperor’s Edge always had me immersed.
Annoyingly, I have a brilliant one line description for the conclusion, but it’s necessarily spoilerific, so I’ll use it if/when (probably when) I buy the sequel.
Downsides? It’s a little lighter than my usual fare, which is fine except that sometimes bloody doings seem a little lacking in emotional impact.
*This probably won’t be interesting to most people, but I was intrigued that his name seems derived from the same root (dagger) as the Sicarii, a violent sect of Jewish religious extremists in the 1st century AD, who clashed with the Zealots during The Jewish War.