Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
War, war, and rumours of war, and yeah, war is here and war is HERE!
I wish I liked epic fantasy novels of war more. I'd probably be a bit more enthusiastic.
The wasps are an implacable and vast, vast army, an empire made up of slaves, slaves, and yet more slaves. This is a foe that makes me feel a knee-jerk reaction. Hell, most of the arguments made up of those still living in the lands that haven't been taken over make it sound like the ramblings of ignorant peeps in the face of the Chinese. All the stereotypes are still in effect: clever, devoted to their ideology, and you know the trope.
What really makes this novel stand out are the races of humans, whether Apt or non-Apt. Those who use magic can't use tech at all, even latches on doors, but they can take on the aspects of the insects (or arachnids) that they're linked to. The normal races of humans (for they're all human) have a thriving steampunk society and they fear the magic. Of course, all types of people show up in every land, but how they deal with the types allows for a lot of diverse conflict situations.
Cool and interesting world-building here.
Too bad so much of it was placed firmly in the service of so much eye-watering war. Sure, a great deal of character building happens with the show, don't tell school, but my eyes glazed over with most of the time being a slave. Things picked back up by the time of the rise in the ranks and the rescue comes around, and I finally began seeing the promise of the MCs.
I finally got into the stride of the novel very late, and that's a shame. I'm now into it and I'll probably continue reading the series. My only regret was the potential storytelling that didn't happen early on, revolving around the rules of the world and the exploration of any and all possible loopholes in the restrictions. Hoards and hoards bore me unless we've got some truly amazing viewpoints. The amaze factor wasn't here for most of the novel, but there were some very cool moments, placing this firmly in the category of immensely serviceable epic fantasy with still-good potential with a somewhat uninspiring beginning.
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