A subtle page turner, weaving betrayal and political backstabbing.
Author: G.R.Matthews Publisher: Rebellion Publishing
Page count: 550
I just want to start of by saying that this read was awesome, an absolute gem of fantasy writing and surely to be a contender for best fantasy book of the year. This is my joint favourite read of the year alongside Mike Shackle’s A Fool’s Hope. From the moment I started it, the pages flowed, where one day I found that I had read 40% of the novel throughout the day. I just couldn’t help myself.
The story starts in a very simple yet big way: The emperor is dead! The world is dominated by an ever expanding Empire, who are trying to force their way across the map, pushing their ideals onto everyone around them, whether they want them or not. The Empire is suddenly left without their beloved Emperor, who mysteriously dies and the vacuum is filled with politics, assassination and constant accusations. There are those desperate to preserve tradition and are loyal, others who seem to be sniping for power and others trying to fill the shoes of those before themselves. These elements of the story are largely from the perspective of The General, a man who had served the Empire with pure loyalty, desperately trying to rescue his precious Empire and bring his Emperor’s body back safety. He himself is only trying to preserve tradition, but is thrown into trying to discover who was behind the murder, which is difficult when surrounded by potential suspects. I absolutely loved this character, finding him down to earth and extremely humble.
The second perspective within the book is The Magician, Kyron, who at the start of the story is an apprentice mage, training alongside his master. He finds himself escorting the Emperor’s body back through the dense forests, which are dominated by the tribal people they have fighting. It is through Kyron that we get a brilliantly understanding of the conflict between magic and religion, playing on the ignorance within religion and their attempts at removing anything that questions its own ideals. This made for some fantastic interactions between characters, adding a real depth to the Empire throughout the novel. Matthews also does a great job not over explaining the lore within the world, instead building our understanding alongside that of Kyron’s, as he moves away from regimented understanding through the Empire, to a more broad and questioning take on the world.
Time was the enemy which he faced every day and knew would defeat him far too soon.G.R.Matthews Seven Deaths of an Empire
My favourite part of this book is the subtly in which the author drops clues, never being too in your face and always causing me to predict at what or who might at play under the surface. Now I know what happens at the end, I can clearly see the bread crumbs Matthew’s had left for me along the way. And it was these hints that kept me wanting more, always wondering if my theories were correct.
The other characters within the book are all equally fantastic, each playing their part brialliantly in the story. One of my favourite characters is Kyron’s tribal guide, who throughout the book adds in the perspective from the tribes. The theme running through the book of forced acquisition was brilliant, and the scenes between the two characters did a stunning job highlighting this side of the story.
Overall, Seven Deaths of an Empire is a brilliant read, the pacing and chapter lengths makes a slightly longer novel seem much shorter, with interesting characters and a plot full of subtle twists. This is easily a must read for the year! I happily gave this book a 5/5!
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