Bottom line: This is one of my favorite ongoing series. These are great stories, extremely well written, with awesome characters. The first book is free, so give it a try and see what you think!
Rating: Strongly Recommended
I was going to do a review on each of the books that are out, but then I realized the reviews would be virtually identical for all books, so I’m going to do it in one fell swoop for the books of the series that are currently out, and I’ll update as the other books come out. There are six planned total in the main storyline.
These books are excellent. It was one of those where I read the first one because it was free, not really expecting all that much from it. When I was done, I immediately downloaded the next two books in the series (the only ones that were out at the time), read all through the night, got an hour of sleep, and had to go to work the next day. I then discovered that there were short stories with the same characters, but not in the main storyline/time frame and bought and read those immediately as well.
There is so much to like about these books. They are that rare combination of great storytelling AND great writing, so that the more times you read them (and believe me, I’ve now read them an embarrassing number of times), the better they get. And to me, one of the most amazing things is how consistently good they are. All of the books so far have been worth reading in their own right, and not just because they are a part of the larger story. The plots are sufficiently different as to be continuously interesting, while still fitting into the larger scheme. (The one possible exception is book four, which was just released – there’s a cliffhanger at the end. Nooo!)
One of my favorite things is the characters. I think her characters are some of the best developed I’ve ever read, and the relationships between them shift and grow throughout the series. The dialogue is hilarious. It can occasionally be a bit on the raunchy side, but for the characters it doesn’t seem out of place. One of the interesting things the author has done is that the books are told from the point of view of Amaranthe, the main character, as well as a secondary character – which is different for each book. I think that really keeps the books feeling fresh and new to the reader, while still continuing with the story and characters that you’ve become invested in.
The setting is a fantasy world that has some steampunk elements, some sword fighting, some magic, but somehow it never feels unfamiliar or foreign. At its core, it’s really a story about people trying to find redemption and their place in the world.
Side note: This is mostly a review of the main books in the series. The two short stories are still very good, but seem mostly to be a way for the reader to spend some more time with the characters in between the book releases.
The Emperor’s Edge (Book 1) (2010)
Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.
Worse, Sicarius, the empire’s most notorious assassin, is in town. He’s tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills… or someone wants her dead.
Dark Currents (Book 2) (2011)
It’s been three months since former enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon and the notorious assassin Sicarius thwarted kidnappers and saved the emperor’s life. The problem? Nobody knows they were responsible for this good deed. Worse, they’re being blamed for the entire scheme. With enforcers and bounty hunters stalking them, and the emperor nursing a personal hatred for Sicarius, it’s going to be hard to earn exoneration.
When Amaranthe’s team discovers mutilated bodies in the city aqueducts and a mysterious illness incapacitates thousands of citizens, she and Sicarius see an opportunity to solve the mystery and prove their loyalty. But they’ll have to defeat vengeful shamans, man-eating predators, and deadly mechanical constructs, all while dodging imperial soldiers who would rather kill them than accept their help.
Nobody said exoneration would be easy.
Deadly Games (Book 3) (2011)
When you’ve been accused of kidnapping an emperor, and every enforcer in the city wants your head, it’s hard to prove yourself an honorable person and even harder to earn an imperial pardon.
That doesn’t keep Amaranthe Lokdon and her team of outlaws from trying. When athletes start disappearing from the Imperial Games, they may finally have an opportunity to show the emperor that they’re on his side. If she and her comrades can get to the bottom of such a public mystery, they’re sure to get the credit.
But plans go awry when Amaranthe’s own men start plotting against each other, the new ally she’d hoped to acquire tries to turn her in, and her best fighter—and closest friend—disappears.
Maybe getting involved wasn’t such a good idea after all…
Conspiracy (Book 4) (2012)
Available: $4.95 e-book at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
When you’re an outlaw hoping for a pardon, and the emperor personally sends a note requesting that your team kidnap him, you make plans to comply…
Even if it’ll involve infiltrating a train full of soldiers, bodyguards, and spies loyal to a nefarious business coalition that has numerous reasons to hate you.
Even if it means leaving the city right after you’ve uncovered a secret weapons shipment that might be meant to start a war.
Even if it’s a trap…
Ice Cracker II (and other short stories) (2010) (Out of main story arc short story)
She’s wanted for crimes against the throne. He’s the empire’s most notorious assassin. With bounties on their heads, they’re not likely candidates for heroics, but they’re on a quest for redemption. Unfortunately, they’ll have to pursue and conquer great threats to earn the emperor’s recognition.
Three short fantasy stories set in the author’s “Emperor’s Edge” universe.
The Assassins Curse (Out of main story arc short story) (2012)
When outlaws Amaranthe and Sicarius chance upon spies stealing military prototypes, they immediately give chase. Well, immediately after Amaranthe talks Sicarius, former assassin and all-around non-altruistic type, into the mission. She wants an imperial pardon, and what better way to attract the emperor’s favor than by looking after the empire’s interests?
What seems like a straightforward mission develops a hitch when the spies flee to Darkcrest Isle, a forbidding chunk of land reputed to be haunted. Amaranthe isn’t quick to believe in tales of malevolent spirits, so she’s startled when the ever-pragmatic and unflappable Sicarius shows reluctance at setting foot on the island. Only when it may be too late to escape does Amaranthe come to understand why.
More Info: The author has a website here (http://www.lindsayburoker.com/) where she puts out tips for indie writers as well as information about her books and reader extras.
What did you think? Did you like the series?