So I’ve been continuing on my Lindsay Buroker kick, and have gotten into her Emperor’s Edge series. There’s quite a few in this one, and I’m only midway into the second book (I snagged the collection of the first 3 for 99 cents on Amazon)*, but I’m hooked enough by this point to go ahead and recommend it to other fantasy fans who like that steampunk vibe to their fantasy. This one doesn’t have as much of the romance subplot as the Dragon Blood series I suggested, and to me it’s slightly slower to get going, but once the characters were fully rolling I was rolling right along with them.
I’m going to try to avoid giving any spoilers, but if you prefer to go into books knowing nothing about how the initial plot unfolds then you should stop reading here. The Emperor’s Edge series is told in the 3rd person, and is set in Turgonia, a sprawling empire with a steam-driven economy and an emperor who isn’t quite as in control of his demense as he or others might think. The main character, Amaranthe, is a kind of police-woman (called enforcers) who is, to humorous effect, a bit of a neat freak, and who is trying to succeed in her career despite the fact that female enforcers are generally looked down upon. A series of mishaps follow that land her on the wrong side of the law pretty quickly, but her principles remain intact and she now has to figure out creative ways of following through on her goal to protect the empire and its emperor.
I enjoy Buroker’s creative blend of recognizable elements from our history (the belief that women can’t do jobs that involve physical protection, for example) with her own twists (the cultural idiom “while men go to war, women mind the store” as a catch-phrase that neatly sums up the Turgonian take on women: that they can be powerful business leaders, but not warriors or enforcers, a very interesting mix of what looks like “modern” and “out-dated” cultural values to us). She also does a delightful job introducing the most dead-pan character I’ve ever seen in a story, Sicarius, an assassin who is as terrifying as he is dry (and yet, somehow, appealing). Maldynado, the rakishly handsome, talented fencer, player/bad boy who keeps trying to catch Amaranthe’s attention and failing is another enjoyable source of amusement.
All in all, though I still would rank the Dragon Blood series* as my favorite of hers thus far, this one fits the bill in feeding my reading habits while I wait for the next Dragon Blood book to come out.
* – These aren’t affiliate links – I’m just linking for those who prefer the convenience of not having to do a search to find the collections I’m referencing.