Author: Rhoda Belleza
Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies #1
Rhee is the last member of the ruling Ta’an after her family got killed in an accident years ago. And now she wants to take back the throne. Living a life away from the palace because her protectors wanted her to stay safe, she now is ready to face the past and not just become empress but also take revenge on the people responsible for the ‘accident’.
But it does not go according to plan and she just barely survives an assassination attempt on her life, with some unexpected help. Meanwhile, the rest of the galaxy is falsely informed that the heir to the throne has been killed by one of the stars of a DroneVision show, Aly.
An easy target because of the not so distant war in the galaxy, the Wreatan sets out on a mission to save his name and reputation. He discovers that nothing is the way he was always told and the trust in his old friends is tested on multiple occasions. On his journey he uncovers well-hidden secrets that could mean the end of life as it is known in the solar system.
Driven by different motives and on different journeys, Aly and Rhee each find themselves in the middle of a new war and the fate of millions of lives in their hands.
I am so happy this book was featured in the February FairyLoot box as I was really looking forward to read this book.
This book has so many great elements that I rarely see in other stuff I read that it was a welcome difference. Nevertheless, there were moments where I caught myself more or less skipping over paragraphs or at least I was not paying full attention to what I read and had to re-read those sections.
First of all, I really liked that the universe was described somewhat realistic, meaning that not all races and creatures are humanoid or look human. I think this is a big flaw in many other books as scientifically it does not make sense at all that the universe is populated by humans. This also means that in the world that the author created, the skin colour and other characteristics are diverse. This book features a lot of issues that are occurring on our planet. The advancement of new technology can bring unexpected problems with it and there are always going to be bad people that will take advantage for their own gain. It also depicts a war that happened basically because of racism, well if that is not why there are wars here, I don’t know what is, especially because racism can be disguised in many ways. I think that it is important to actually have those elements in a book to give the reader something to think about in the best case scenario.
I also like that different planets in the solar system have different gravity which only makes sense when planets, moons and asteroids have a different size and mass. And while the changing gravity is mentioned regularly, the effects on the characters or the equipment is not always making sense. Oftentimes it is attempted to show different movements in different environments but they are lacking in description. Maybe this is because this is a debut and the writing will get better in future works or because it is deliberate I don’t know. I think I just give her credit for trying what others don’t even attempt or think about.
What I liked a lot after accepting the fact that the blurb is somewhat misleading is that the main characters don’t actually meet and there is no romance between them. It is nice to read a book where two main characters don’t just meet through favourable circumstances and together they rescue the planet, galaxy or universe. I had to get to that point though because from the synopsis I actually thought they would set out on a journey together and from that expectation I was waiting for them to meet. Yet I found myself really enjoying that even thought their story is connected to each other, they have separate paths (which will definitely change in the second book, I am sure).
Even though the main characters are no love interests, there is a little romance in the book. And that it is only a little is great because it shows that a book does not need romance as a plot advancer. And this is portrayed not nearly enough.
In the end though, there are many things I did not like. I do like the characters to some extent but especially Rhee is a little too revenge driven and decides less rational and more emotional. Which does not necessarily cause problems, unless you want to become the empress of the galaxy. She does not really seem fit to be a ruler in my eyes and she also does not grow to be one in the course of the book. I like Aly’s character more as he is a bit older and more reasonable at times but he started out really naïve as well. What I really did not like about him was the constant use of swear words in a made up language. It felt in every context, the same word meant a different thing and it drove me crazy.
The world building could have been a lot more detailed but I guess this would have proved to be a massive problem as the protagonists journeyed around the solar system in such a pace, it would have been impossible to describe something like ten or so planets very thoroughly. Story building also lacked a bit as a lot of time the twists were predictable without having to put too much effort into it and on many occasions, the chapters ended with the characters in a deadly situation. As it is unlikely that the main protagonists would die, the tension became forced towards the end of the book.
The major plot twists are, as already mentioned, very predictable. One of them has something to do with the name Nero, and for those who know a little Roman history, it will tell you everything you need to know. Also, the biggest reveal towards the end of the book was hinted at from the about the middle of the book. Not really shocking then anymore when finally getting the confirmation on the last pages.
In the end, I still enjoyed the book but it could have been so much more with the prospects and initial ideas yet it lacked in the execution, maybe due to the fact that this is a debut.
Tell me what you think!
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