Posts Tagged ‘david hair’

Empress of the Fall – Book One of The Sunsurge Quartet, the sequel series to The Moontide Quartet, which concluded in 2015.

The Emperor is dead – long live the Empress! Emperor Constant is dead and his rivals are scrabbling for power – but any misstep could plunge the land, already devastated by the shocking outcome of the Third Crusade, into a calamitous civil war. The Imperial throne is not the only one in jeopardy. Two brothers, imprisoned veterans of the Crusades, finally return home to find their father’s kingdom being plundered – but the price of regaining their birthright will have far-reaching implications for the entire empire. In the East, Sultan Salim, peacemaker and visionary ruler, faces his greatest challenge as his people demand an invasion of the West in retribution for the Rondian Crusades And lurking in the darkness, orchestrating both the power struggles and the inevitable conflicts, is a shadowy group threatening to destroy civilisation itself. Once more, Urte stands on the brink of cataclysm.

Empress of the Fall (Sunsurge Quartet Book One)

David Hair

Jo Fletcher Books

Supplied by Hatchette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

Part of the blurb for this novel tells the world that it’s “perfect to fill the gap before the next Game of Thrones”. I’m going to go a step further and suggest that you toss “A Song of Ice and Fire” into a suitable receptacle, and read this instead, because it’s altogether better both as a novel, and as a work of fantasy.

It’s better as a novel because the prose is very readable; it flows nicely, and vividly evokes the world of Urte. Because the characters are believable; those who turn to evil do so for credible reasons; the principle antagonist is very old, very powerful and quite mad. And because the book is very well-structured. It follows four groups of characters (if you include the masked servants of evil). There is Lyra, the titular “Empress of the Fall” who comes to the throne in autumn, after the Emperor and his entourage are killed in an attempt to destroy the Leviathan Bridge; there is Waqar and the magic-users of Kesh; and there is Kyric, a former slave who wants his kingdom back.  Remarkably, for the first novel in a quartet, it all comes to a grand climax, yet with a clever lead into the next part of the story.

It’s better as fantasy because the author has designed the world of Urte with great care and attention to detail. The magic system is one of the most elegant I’ve seen in a long time, and the consequences of having high magic in a low-tech world are worked out to an extent I’ve rarely come across. It’s a pity that the publisher didn’t include the maps in the proof copy I was sent, because the map is a very important part of world-design, especially when it is as intricate as this. But I was able to find the map for the previous series on the internet, which helped.

It isn’t often that I find a fantasy brick as enjoyable as this one; it’s been quite a while in fact, and I think I can safely commend this series to lovers of the genre, as one that will satisfy and yet leave the reader ready for more.