Fantasy based on Historical research
"For thirteen years, Sorley has taught music and swordplay at the Ti’ach na Cillian, his terrible memories behind him. A peaceful life, hard-won after the devastation of war and betrayal – until officer-cadet Gwenna comes home for the summer with a question. “Why are there so many secrets in this family?”
Empire's Reckoning is the first in a proposed new trilogy from the author of the Empire's Legacy series. That first trilogy was told by the main character, Lena and we followed her story through times of war and change across the fictional empire. We review Ms Thorpe's books here on Discovering Diamonds because while they are fantasy, they are so grounded in historical research that reading them feels like reading historical fiction, right down to the different languages used in various parts of the empire.
In this new book, the narrator is no longer Lena, but Sorley, a musician whom we met in part two of the previous trilogy. I happen to have read the bridge novella, Oraiáphon, too, which is also told by Sorley and fills in some gaps between the conclusion of the first series and the beginning of the second.
In this new volume, we learn about what has happened to Sorley in the intervening years, and travel with him back to his homeland. The book switches from events immediately after the last series ended, to fifteen years afterwards as Sorley discovers things about the past and has to decide how much to reveal to the next generation. In revealing secrets, will he be guilty of betrayal himself?
I've talked in previous reviews about the skilful world-building and deep, realistic characterisation of Ms Thorpe's books and the same must be said of Empire's Reckoning. It took me a while to get used to hearing Sorley telling the story, but he is just as good a narrator as Lena was.
For those who love sweeping sagas, beautifully described settings and a real sense of watching the characters as they go about their lives, I can't rate this highly enough. As always with these books, it's like you are in the room, witnessing every scene.
I would say though that in this volume, the theme is very much that of secrets being revealed and to get the most out of this book, I feel that you need to have read the preceding volumes, including the novella, which introduces a couple of new characters who feature here. But having said that, all good series are worth reading from the beginning to gain full enjoyment!
Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds
© Annie Whitehead