Published: July 3, 2018
Publisher DAW Books
Series: Sun Eater #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 624 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.
It was not his war.
The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders.
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.
Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.
Empire of Silence is one of those rare books that just impressed me beyond expectation. I knew very little of it beyond what the synopsis gives and understood it to be ROME IN SPACE. Which is awesome. This theme is becoming more popular (though perhaps not common) in the SFF community and I’ve found that it’s totally my jam. I love it – from Red Rising to the underrated gem that is Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator, I am completely hooked on this kind of book. I love the idea that these ancient traditions from Earth might be so revered by future progeny that they create a whole stupid empire that spans galaxies based on the philosophy that I hated studying in college. Actually, I must admit Rome was cool, but generally talked about far too much in college courses when there were so many other fantastic ancient cultures that could have been studied.
Hadrian Marlowe is the eldest son of a powerful lord, distantly kin to the emperor, and unfortunately not destined to sit his father’s throne. He just doesn’t have the casual cruelty sought after by those in power and so his father decides to ship him off to the Chantry to be a priest or a torturer or something equally awful. Hadrian has other plans and sets out to be a Scholiast and though not everything (well, nothing) works out as he anticipated, he sure has a more exciting life than his brother Crispin. Hadrian spends time in the gutters of a foreign planet begging and thieving, the sands of the gladiatorial fields as a myrmidon, the halls of a palace as a languages tutor, a field expedition pack mule, and a translator for Inquisitors. This is no small book, but Hadrian sure has a lot happen to him in 600+ pages and it’s only the beginning!
Empire of Silence is, in my opinion, the science fiction version of The Name of the Wind. There are quite a few similarities and I am in no way complaining about it because it was such a great book! Hadrian is telling the story of his life from his wealthy, cushioned beginning as the son of a lord to how he becomes known as the Sun Eater. Obviously we don’t get to the Sun Eater part in this book because it’s only the first in a series, but I love pondering how the events I did get to read about will ultimately bring him to that point. There are a few character/story line similarities including Hadrian’s time as a street rat and the double-edged sword of his cleverness, but the two books take very different directions as I would expect them to. The biggest similarity I think, is the quality of writing. Christopher Ruocchio is an excellent writer and had some elegant turns of phrase that practically screamed Patrick Rothfuss’s style. Hadrian is a very well-written character and there were interesting side characters, though only Volka truly had a thorough development.
This was such a fantastic book and I think it’s especially awesome that this is a debut! I can only think that the author will improve even further with time and I am definitely looking forward to news of the sequel. I’m sure we’ll see more of the alien Cielcin, battles, and exotic new planets and/or locations which even this book had a number of. I think this book would appeal to a wide variety of readers and if you were a fan of Red Rising, The Name of the Wind, or anything with a bit of gladiatorial combat + a deep world you’ll probably love this book! Pick it up now because it will take you ages to catch up if you wait until the next book is out!