Seven Deaths of an Empire by G.R. Matthews – Review

Published: June 22, 2021

Publisher: Solaris 

Series: Standalone 

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 550 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


A new grimdark fantasy for fans of Anna Smith-Spark, GRR Martin and Mark Lawrence.

The Emperor is dead. Long live the Empire.

General Bordan has a lifetime of duty and sacrifice behind him in the service of the Empire. But with rebellion brewing in the countryside, and assassins, thieves and politicians vying for power in the city, it is all Bordan can do to protect the heir to the throne.

Apprentice Magician Kyron is assigned to the late Emperor’s honour guard escorting his body on the long road back to the capital. Mistrusted and feared by his own people, even a magician’s power may fail when enemies emerge from the forests, for whoever is in control of the Emperor’s body, controls the succession.

Seven lives and seven deaths to seal the fate of the Empire.

Seven Deaths of an Empire is such an appealing title for a book that I couldn’t resist the temptation to pick it up and see what it entailed. The synopsis prepares you for the story, but it doesn’t have the vitality that the entirety of the story holds. It’s also pretty much the fall of the Roman Empire with some magic thrown in for added excitement which is quite awesome. 

As the synopsis so kindly outlines, General Bordan is the aging though well respected leader of the empire’s military. His Emperor has fallen and all he can hope to do is guide the heir and keep them alive until the Emperor’s body and the magical amulet he carried can be returned to the capital. Kyron is an apprentice mage accompanying the Emperor’s body back to the capital from the warfront. He’s learning how the world truly works outside of the safe walls of the capital and honing his magic skills during the somewhat perilous journey. These two characters are the points of view you’ll follow through the story and they have an interesting connection to one another.

The story was definitely a slow burner. It felt like it took a hundred years to get through the first 30%, but after that it really started to pick up and by the end I was wondering if and when there might be a sequel (there will be). General Bordan’s chapters start off with the chaos in the capital as the news of the Emperor’s death arrives and the his son becomes the Emperor-in-waiting. Spoiler alert – the prince is a massively privileged dipshit and I felt genuinely bad for the general. Kyron’s chapters grated on me a little at first, even though they were interesting. He comes off as a whiner for a while and while he doesn’t exactly grow out of that he sort of grows on you. There’s plenty of action, political intrigue, assassination, and several very emotional moments that left me rather speechless. 

While Seven Deaths of an Empire didn’t exactly blow me away, leaving me raving about it for days, I did really enjoy it and found the payoff worthwhile. G.R. Matthews is an author I’ll be keeping my eye on because I’ll be needing news of the next books set in this world, as they necessarily be direct sequels. This sated my thirst for Roman inspired fantasy, military fantasy, and all things remotely political.

Currently Reading: 6/14/21

Seven Deaths of An Empire by G.R. Matthews
I’ve only just begun reading this and have little idea of what to expect. The emperor is dead and General Bordan must help to secure the heir’s place upon the throne while an apprentice mage has his own POV. It seems Roman inspired and I think it will be a slow yet enjoyable read!

When Jackals Storm the Walls by Bradley P. Beaulieu
This is my grand effort to catch up on this series in time for the release of the sixth and final book in July. The audiobooks are great and bring an already vibrant story to life.

Stacking the Shelves: 3/6/21

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!

Received for Review:

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
A maidservant with forbidden magic and a captive princess team up and presumably upset the balance of the whole world. I’ve been looking forward to a new book from Tasha Suri! Thanks to Orbit for the eARC!

Seven Deaths of an Empire by G.R. Matthews
New grimdark fantasy with an awesome cover. That’s really all I needed to know, but the synopsis did sounds pretty cool – a general, a mage, and seven deaths? I’m going to pick this up mostly blind – just thought it looked cool! Thanks to Solaris for the eARC.

The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu
Zimbabwean magic in Edinburgh, bewitched children, and an occult library made this an irresistible temptation! Thanks to Tor for the eARC.

Mastermind by Andrew Mayne
I honestly did not expect a return to the character of Theo Cray… but here we are and I’m so here for it! It looks like Theo will be teaming up with Jessica Blackwood (from another Andrew Mayne series???) for an adventure that seems to lean a little more supernatural than mundane. Thanks to Thomas & Mercer for the eARC.

Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and Dark-Elf by William Schlichter
This sounds completely amazing! Set during the Prohibition, a dwarf detective must investigate a string of murders and find the killer before he’s next. This is quite short, with only 220 pages and sounds like quite the adventure! Thanks to BHC Press for the eARC.

My Purchases:

My recent audio purchases are quite the varied lot. Obviously I couldn’t resist A Court of Silver Flames and I can’t wait to share my review – it’s going to be a fun one to write! I also picked up the YA scifi Aurora Rising and most recently The Alienist. 

Decided to treat myself to a few hobby-related (cooking and plants/botany) books. I am really enjoying The Drunken Botanist and find it an informative yet pleasurable to read book with lots of fun facts and even recipes. I haven’t really checked out The Flavor Equation or Plants that Kill yet, but will soon!