Published: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Series: Untitled #1
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
An epic fantasy debut, The Empire’s Ghost weaves together the lives of the haves and the have-nots both desperately fighting to reassemble the remains of a fallen empire.
The empire of Elesthene once spanned a continent, but its rise heralded the death of magic. It tore itself apart from within, leaving behind a patchwork of kingdoms struggling to rebuild. But when a new dictator, the ambitious and enigmatic Imperator Elgar, seizes power in the old capital and seeks to recreate the lost empire anew, the other kingdoms have little hope of stopping him. Prince Kelken of Reglay finds himself at odds with his father at his country’s darkest hour; the marquise of Esthrades is unmatched in politics and strategy, but she sits at a staggering military disadvantage. And Issamira, the most powerful of the free countries, has shut itself off from the conflict, thrown into confusion by the disappearance of its crown prince and the ensuing struggle for succession.
Everything seems aligned in Elgar’s favor, but when he presses a band of insignificant but skilled alley-dwellers into his service for a mission of the greatest secrecy, they find an unexpected opportunity to alter the balance of power in the war. Through their actions and those of the remaining royals, they may uncover not just a way to defeat Elgar, but also a deeper truth about their world’s lost history.
Isabelle Steiger has crafted a powerful and masterful debut with The Empire’s Ghost, the first book in a haunting new epic fantasy series
It’s been a few weeks since I finished The Empire’s Ghost and I’ve been SO bad at doing timely reviews in the last month or so. I blame the beautiful weather – I just don’t want to stay inside! Anyway, now that I’m actually sitting down to work on this I realize that I have to give some thought to what I liked and what I didn’t.
The Empire’s Ghost is a book that never achieved evoking a particularly strong feeling in me. Yes, it was a great story and yes, there were some great characters but I didn’t want to go start my own revolution or anything when it was over. Some books leave you feeling like you’re on top of the world or they evoke a passion for a certain subject matter, but the Empire’s Ghost was solid and reliable instead. The plot was interesting and most of the POVs were as well. Lady Margraine in particular was a favorite of mine and I also like the level-headedness of Morgan Imrick. There was a good mix of characters here – they had unique personalities and they didn’t feel like the same cookie with different sprinkles.
This book did suffer somewhat at the beginning and it took some time for me to figure out who was who and what was actually going on. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would like this book at all at first, but in the name of persistence and lack of other audio material I forged ahead. I’m glad I did because this ended up being much better than expected. Others who’ve reviewed this have mentioned that some characters felt like footnotes and lacked development – I agree with them, but I hope that in any future books characters like Marceline will have more page time and play a more significant role.
The Empire’s Ghost was a good debut and I would definitely check out any sequels, though I haven’t heard any news regarding them. The political machinations in this book were actually interesting and the POVs were a nice mix of nobility and commoner. Just thought I should throw that in (and was a bit too lazy to try and make it fit nice and neat in another paragraph).