The Throne of the Five Winds by S.C. Emmett – Review

Cover- The Throne of the Five Winds

Published: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Orbit Books

Series: Hostage of Empire #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 704 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Two queens, two concubines, six princes. Innumerable hidden agendas. Yala, lady-in-waiting to the princess of a vanquished kingdom, must navigate their captors’ treacherous imperial court.

The Emperor’s palace — full of ambitious royals, sly gossip, and unforeseen perils — is perhaps the most dangerous place in Zhaon. A hostage for her conquered people’s good behavior, the lady Komor Yala has only her wits and her hidden maiden’s blade to protect herself — and her childhood friend Princess Mahara, sacrificed in marriage to the enemy to secure a tenuous peace.

But the Emperor is aging, and the Khir princess and her lady-in-waiting soon find themselves pawns in the six princes’ deadly schemes for the throne — and a single spark could ignite fresh rebellion in Khir.

And then, the Emperor falls ill, and a far bloodier game begins…

The Throne of the Five Winds is the first installment of the Hostage of Empire series, an intricate and ruthless East Asia-inspired epic fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of George R. R. Martin, Ken Liu, Kate Elliott, and K. Arsenault Rivera.


Could this book have been any better? Probably not! The Throne of the Five Winds truly just struck all the right chords for me and ended up being this lovely, enticing, and somewhat saddening beginning to what I think will be a tremendous fantasy series. This book could fittingly have been titled “A Game of Thrones” as well – almost the entire book focuses on the political machinations of the six princes, two queens, two concubines, and countless others that surround the throne of Zhaon. It was far more fascinating than I would have initially anticipated – I expected dense and possibly a dragging pace but that wasn’t the case.

Lady Komor Yala (called Yala, as her family name is listed first) was chosen to accompany her childhood friend, Princess Mahara, to Zhaon when she was to be married to the eldest prince to secure peace. Yala is intelligent and deadly, having been raised in the traditional Khir fashion whereas Mahara was raised to be a silent figurehead meant to bear children. I loved both Yala and Mahara for their bravery, friendship, and Yala’s dedication to her role as protector and lady. The other women of power in the palace (aside from the second concubine) were dreadful – scheming, cruel things out for their own gain. The princes and princesses were a mixed bag, with some being wonderful and others just as conniving as their mothers and twice as cruel. It was unavoidable that some of the princes found Yala appealing, as she was alluring if not traditionally beautiful, and that was honestly one of my favorite parts of the story. 

Ah yes, the story – it’s one of politics on a grand scale. With the Khir beaten and peace secured, the Zhaon have returned focus to their inner political battles though it may not be as peaceful as they thought. Mahara’s illegitimate brother has become heir and he doesn’t hold the same views on peace that perhaps his father does and he begins his own scheming. The Zhaon prince are either warriors or snakes (and sometimes both) and are trying to outmaneuver one another and it only escalates when it becomes apparent the Emperor is dying. The throne will soon be vacant and one of them will have the opportunity to fill it. There are numerous assassination attempts on multiple characters and there’s enough violence to sate the bloodthirsty reader. No full scale battles perhaps, but the action is certainly there. Though I love a good battle, the truly fascinating parts featured Yala and Mahara (good, since they’re the main characters). Yala is the quiet strength behind her princess and fills so many roles – secret guardian, spy, the fall guy (or girl in this case), companion, and so much more. She’s demure and intelligent and it’s made even better because she could also knife you with her hidden blade faster than you could imagine. 

I can’t fit all my feels for this book into words. It was just SO, SO GOOD and I was taken by surprise at how much I loved it! It saddens me that I have to wait for the next book which will hopefully be released in 2020 because this book ended on such a sad note with so many loose strings. I’m unsure where this will go next and what Yala’s next moves will be and I just want to know if she will be a magnificent and avenging angel. GEEZ.

Currently Reading: 10/7/19

Cover- The Throne of the Five Winds

The Throne of the Five Winds by S.C. Emmett

I’m taking a chunky book out of town with me this week so I have plenty of reading material. The synopsis for this sounds fabulous – the king is dying and this focuses on the palatial power struggles. Early reviews look positive so I’m pretty excited AND I should hopefully have this finished before the release date (though maybe not reviewed by then).

Stacking the Shelves: 7/6/19

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 are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

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I featured the ARCs awhile back, but recently I received the lovely hardcover finished copies of The Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan from Ace and Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio from DAW.

The Throne of the Five Winds by S.C. Emmett

This sounds really, really good and I’m super excited to have received an ARC courtesy of Orbit! It sounds like palace upheaval following the death of the emperor and the main players are the queens, concubines, princes, etc.

The Bone Ships by R.J. Barker

Here’s another awesome ARC from Orbit – one of my most anticipated reads of the year, in fact! I mean, it has sea dragons. Enough said.

Shield of the People by Marshall Ryan Maresca

I’m always up for another Maradaine novel. It seems like they always end up being my vacation reads, so maybe I’ll keep the tradition and save this one… Thanks to DAW for the ARC!

A Pilgrimage of Swords by Anthony Ryan

And here we have another Anthony Ryan book! This time it’s an eARC novella from Subterranean Press that will be out in September. It’s a really fantastic cover as is usual for this publisher and their special editions are truly a step above.

Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein

This is a super short little novel that has a description that reminds me of The Hazel Wood (which I loved). I admit, I was sucked in by the really lovely cover. Thanks to Tachyon Publications for the eARC!

The True Bastards by Jonathan French

I needed more hog-riding orcs in my reading selection and now here we are. I’m pretty excited about this one, especially since Fetching looks to be the main character! Thanks to Crown for the eARC.

My Purchases:

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I went hardcore YA fantasy nerd for a sec on Amazon after I finished the audiobook of Sorcery of Thorns. I loved it so much I bought it twice and will have a review up very soon! I also picked up the gorgeous hardcover collection of the Modern Faerie Tales series by Holly Black. I read these books back when I was a teenager and it’s part of the reason I love faerie stories so much!

Also, I snagged this sweet leather bookmark from a Ninth House giveaway promotion – I wish book merch was more of a thing for all adult SFF books because I would collect all the bookmarks/mugs/pins/stickers etc.

And lastly, my audiobook purchases! This time around I’ve been going a little heavier on the scifi and picked up Recursion by Blake Crouch and The Quantum Magician by Derek Kunsken.