Empress by Karen Miller
Review by Anna Sheldrick
First she was an unwanted daughter who was sold into slavery and then she became a warrior and then the Empress. Hekat started life knowing nothing but pain and anger but as she grew up she knew that she was special, she was godtouched. No matter what anyone tells her Hekat knew she was special.
Also godtouched is Vortka, fellow slave turned Godspeaker who tries his hardest to appease the god but sometimes finds it difficult to attend sacrifices. He hides it well and tries to stay out of the way of the high Godspeaker Nagarak but it appears that he is destined for great things as the god and Hekat give him instructions that will lead to him being one of the most powerful men in Mijak and the only man who is able to control Hekat.
Empress is by far one of the best books that I have read in a long time. Hekat is frustratingly single-minded and commands the attention of all those around her. She knows what she is doing and nothing is going to stop her from achieving what she must to bring her god’s goals to fruition. If you have ever had the opportunity to encounter religious zealots it is easy to know exactly the type of person Hekat is.
The point of view switches between Hekat, Vortka, Warlord Raklion, Nagarak and later Zandakar. They all have distinctly different personalities that you come to love and hate. What I particularly love about this book is that Miller is able to show these characters personalities in the narration, describing the world as these characters see it. The characters are all interesting and most of the time fierce but I did sometimes get impatient at having to read through Raklion and Nagarak’s storylines as I often wanted to get back to Hekat and her single-minded goal of bringing the world to heel.
Empress is such a well written. Not only does Karen Miller fix the world firmly in your mind but she narrates the book in the style that the characters speak. When the characters are happy you are happy and when they are frustrated so are you. It is difficult to say clearly who in this story is supposed to be the villain or the hero as with each character you start to think as that character and believe that the other characters are working against you.
You can easily believe that a world such as this exists as Miller describes the world so well that it becomes as clear in your mind as the world as Harry Potter. The book can be quite violent but while some scenes of murder and sex can be surprisingly in depth Miller does not bore the reader with endless battle and fight scenes, choosing only to describe fights that are integral to the storyline.
Anyone who liked Kingmaker and Kingbreaker will love this book. It is a very hefty read at 688 pages but it rarely felt like a chore, which can happen sometimes with long books. The only complaint I would make is that sometimes Hekat’s single-mindedness can get a little but annoying but that is a minor complaint compared to the quality of the book and story. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading this sort of fantasy.
Sarah from West Midlands
I'm sorry to say it, but the more I read of Miller's writing the more it annoys me. I was a little irritated by the King Maker, King Breaker series and over all enjoyed it enough to read it through to the end, but this one - life is too short. It really takes the cake. I accidentally bought the 3rd and it has gone in the bin too - unopened.
Shell from Winchester
An intriguing series - but not as strong as her earlier books.
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