A High Fantasy Novel Set In An Age Of Steam
Huh! So much for my well-laid plan. I started reading, and after two small pages (an iPhone screen is not that big) I was hooked. Lost. Captivated. Enthralled. I tore through the series and still haven't come up for air. Everything else I have on my bookshelves - virtual and real - has paled into insignificance.
So what is this book about?
Amaranthe Lokdon is a rarity, a female Imperial law enforcer. Dedicated, ambitious, sharp left kick, obsessive compulsive cleaner, she's definitely 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.
Staying alive puts her outside the law. Now with a sizeable bounty on her head, she pulls together a band of fascinating, hilarious characters to form an organization called the Emperor's Edge. It's mission? To protect Emperor Sespian from his enemies and to clear her name.
But not all the wonderfully drawn characters share such noble goals. Maldynado (disowned aristocrat, turned gigolo, turned outlaw) agrees to join EE because he wants a statute of himself erected (probably showing his erection!) in the centre of town. Aksytr (a sullen kid chucked out of his gang of cut-throats) wants an opportunity to study magic, banned in the Empire. Basilard (enslaved and forced to fight for his life in a gambling pit) wants slavery abolished. Books, the disgraced history professor - well I'm not sure what he wants!
Anyway, all this adds to the fun, leading to a rollicking, fast-paced romp through the streets of Stumps, the capital city of Turgonia. Nicknamed Stumps because a few generations back an emperor whose name I can't remember decided to behead all the city's statutes, leaving only stumps! That's the level of detail in the world building. And trust me, the characters are that rich too.
As you can see from my ravings, I really loved this book. If you like swashbuckling action, with sharp dialogue, tons of laughs, beautifully flawed characters, and a brilliantly imaginative plot, then you will love it too.
This is a five short sword read. You can download it for free everywhere. But be warned, you will come back for more.
PS. And don't worry that it's indie published. You would never have known if I hadn't told you it was.