Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Review: The Emperor's Edge

The Emperor's Edge
The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyed this one. It has action, suspense and humour. It also has a kickass heroine who's believable (and a natural leader - although she does engage in fighting quite competently, her real skill is in talking people into doing things). Her ill-assorted group - a cold master assassin, an alcoholic historian, a vain aristocratic pretty-boy and a surly teenage would-be wizard - are lively, fun and convincing characters, as is the idealistic youthful emperor they (unbeknown to him) are setting out to save.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was self-published. It stands up beside any traditionally published book I've read recently. The author does fall into the common author trap of using fancy words that don't quite mean what she thinks they do, but the editing is as good as plenty of trad publishers are putting out these days.

I think I found this book because I saw some sensible stuff she wrote on her blog and liked the book's premise - and it was free at the time, I think. As soon as I finished it I bought the next one, and unless there's a dramatic drop in quality at some point I'll be buying the whole series, and anything else she writes.

Three things in particular that I liked were the strong heroine whose strength is not just that of a gender-switched man, the steamed-up setting that wasn't all brass, clockwork and airships but actually felt like a real place, and the flashes of situational humour scattered amidst the action and the desperate plots. Also, the heroes are kind of incompetent sometimes, get a little bit battered about but not to the over-the-top degree that a lot of steampunk heroes do, and don't end up lauded as heroes.

The whole thing has the worn feel of a setting like Serenity, and also the same kind of strongly individual, somewhat flawed characters in an ensemble cast that works both because of and despite its diversity.

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