Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Date Read: March 15 to 24, 2017
A decent, light fantasy.
It was easy to read and kept the pages turning, and that was all I was looking for this week.
Since this is the author’s first book, there are various things in the story that aren’t as polished or fully developed as they could have been, like the “steampunk” setting and world building, but I found myself not too preoccupied with figuring them out or trying to make sense of the technology or politics while reading because the story was entertaining and it didn’t seem to take itself too seriously.
The main character, Corporeal Amaranthe Lokdon, is one of the few female enforcers (police) in an imperial city that only just recently allowed women into the force. Lokdon is a hard worker and fairly good at her job, but she continues to be ignored by her superiors and thus gets passed over for promotions. Meanwhile, her slacker partner gets noticed and promoted.
At the beginning of the book, Amaranthe is investigating an arson case when she catches the eye of the young emperor who quickly becomes attracted to her. Because of this attraction, she’s marked for death by Hollowcrest, the emperor’s right hand man, who just happens to be controlling the throne behind the scenes. Hollowcrest sets her on a mission to bait and kill the infamous Sicarius. When she unravels his plan, Hollowcrest has her captured, and that sets the rest of the plot in motion.
Amaranthe goes on the run and teams up with Sicarius, all the while coming up with a plan unmask Hollowcrest and save the emperor. She puts together a rag-tag team of misfits to help her carry out her plans. Sometimes annoying, other times endearing; nevertheless their interactions and misadventures in the city are amusing to read. I can see the potential for them becoming an interesting team later on.
Where he had found the outfit, she did not know, but everything from the boots to the gloves to the parka and fur cap fit reasonably well. And there were no grizzly bloodstains to suggest he had killed someone to get it. That was something, at least.
“Do you have…” A list? A pamphlet? A room full of naked men lined up like pastries on the shelf at Curt’s Bakery? “How does it work?”
“If we’re discovered, I’ll do everything I can to make time for you and the others to escape.”
“Sicarius too?” he asked with a hint of amusement.
“If Sicarius is discovered, I’ll have to try and make time for the enforcers to escape.”
“Any assassin who allows himself to be distracted by his word deserves a knife in the back. It’s not professional.”
With that said, I should mention there’s some suspension of disbelief required to enjoy this story. Like for instance, I still have a hard time figuring out
- why Hollowcrest wants Amaranthe dead almost immediately–there really is nothing threatening about her
- how Amaranthe isn’t recognized more often if her face is on wanted posters plastered all across the city
- how she’s gotten so lucky recruiting just enough men for her elaborate plan
- that “elaborate” plan…
- and why so many men
Although this book doesn’t really give you a good sense of the scope of the story arc, the empire, or the world in general, it does lay the groundwork for something bigger with the promise of more depth and adventure to come. I’m hoping the next few books will provide that, and I’m willing to give this series a few books to find itself and get going.