Book Review: Empress

I realize I haven’t been writing much lately. I have been working on my website when I am on the computer at home, and burying my nose in books while on transit. Mostly, I have been rereading old favorites. I like to revisit well written tales. I am currently rereading the Hammer of God trilogy by Karen Miller, of which Empress is the first book.

The book snagged my glancing eye while I was waiting to board a plane to visit my favorite cousin in another state. Something about the single figure on the cover, small but fierce, caught my attention. I wanted to know why she looked so angry. The cover was different than the others on the sci-fi/fantasy section (which I favor). Props to the cover artist, and to the author for her interesting synopsis, which compelled me to purchase the book.

I will admit, the book starts in a hopeless place, in a harsh desert where women have no names or place but to breed children. The opening scene is vulgar, but well establishes the horror and disgust of the situation the main character wishes to escape. The main character is Hekat, who is a young girl of twelve when we begin the tale. She is sold to slave traders and thus begins the tale of her journey and transformation.

The book treats with royalty, kindness, wickedness and spite, and a scorching god of killing and death. There are some scenes somewhat vulgar, but they lend a harder, harsher feel to her world. And yet, despite the difficulties, she thrives. She lives in the god’s eye. She is Hekat, godtouched and precious.

But the story is not without love, sweetness, and kindness. Hekat is given a friend in a young man named Vortka, a fellow slave turned Godspeaker, also in the god’s eye. She is gifted with a beautiful son. She is gifted with her fearsome god’s power.

And she wishes to gift her god the world.

Overall, I enjoy the book and characters. The author builds compelling characters and crafts interesting storylines. I think there are a few weaker points in the tale, where I became less engaged. These were usually the baser portions of the book, or where the story became a touch less interesting for whatever other reason. Few scenes drag on, though. I wasn’t compelled to just flip pages till something interests me. I find it fairly well-written.

I would recommend Empress to my friends interested in fantasy fiction. I mean, I have reread it a number of times.

I would not suggest it for young readers, it is definitely more adult in tone and language.

The second book of the trilogy begins abroad. But I will talk about that one next time.

Happy adventures.

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About N B

Artist, critic, friend, and rambly-ponderer.
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