Top critical review
Fun but flawed
Reviewed in the United States on February 5, 2019
Lindsay Buroker is a prolific indie author and co-host of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast. Since I’ve been listening to her marketing advice for several years now, I figured it was time to check out her craft by reading one of her books: The Emperor’s Edge, the first book in the series of the same name. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.
Amaranthe Lokdon, the main character, is one of the few female enforcers patrolling the capital city of the Turgonian Empire. But after she runs afoul of the Commander of the Armies, she’s outlawed and left for dead. She knows the Emperor’s in danger, though, so she recruits an unlikely team—including the deadly assassin Sicarius—and launches a desperate scheme to save her liege.
It’s a decent premise, but I found the plotting precarious at points. Amaranthe’s scheme involves setting up a fake counterfeiting operation. It never seems likely to work, a fact she even acknowledges. (At one point, she calls it “juvenile and doomed to failure.”) I would have preferred a plan that had a chance. When things inevitably go awry, the reader shouldn’t be thinking, “Well, that was never going to work anyway.” There’s not much drama in that.
I also thought Amaranthe’s team came together too neatly, and that several characters were more forthcoming with their intentions than seemed plausible. The steampunk setting felt a little thin—the use of steam never really seemed to change how the world worked, and I tripped over several modern-sounding terms (like “startups” and “cubicles.”) And Amaranthe’s transition from by-the-book enforcer to master-of-improvisation criminal happened a little fast.
Yet the pacing is fast, the action is tense, and the characters are likable. There’s enough here to make for an enjoyable read. If you’re looking for a fun distraction, The Emperor’s Edge is worth a shot—especially since it’s free.