Buroker, Lindsay. The Emperor’s Edge: A High Fantasy Adventure in an Era of Steam (2010). Digital Only. Self-Published. $.99
I figured “Eh, $.99? Why not?” That’s the problem with Kindle, and instant-gratification low- or no-cost books; “Why Not?” That’s how you end up with a to-be-read list hundreds of books long. I kid you not, it’s gotten completely out of hand, even if you disregard everything except the ones I actively intend to read soon instead of just eventually. That’s how I ended up with Lindsay Buroker’s The Emperor’s Edge.
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.
Corporal Amaranthe Lokdon paced. Her short sword, night stick, and handcuffs bumped and clanked at her thighs with each impatient step. Enforcer Headquarters frowned down at her, an ominous gray cliff of a building that glowered at the neighborhood like a turkey vulture, except with less charisma.
It wasn’t quite a blind-buy, but it was close; I was just sort of meandering through free/cheap books on Amazon and spotted this particular title, so I went “Eh, why not?” and bought it. I’m simultaneously glad I did, and frustrated by my timing; I bought it last night, and began reading it, only to have the hours slip away. Suddenly, it’s 4am and I’m 78% through and I have to be up for work at 9 and it’s gonna be a 13-hour day because I’m opening at one job and closing at the other and good lord I need to sleep. So I force myself to put it down, but it’s a battle, because I have to know what’s going to happen next.
There’s a lot going on, which is usually where I say it was perhaps too much, and really, it sounds like a lot when you explain all the genres and themes it delves into; sword-and-sorcery, action-thriller, steampunk, assassination plots, conspiracies, and even a hint of romance, but it was deftly managed.
Amaranthe is a large part of why I loved this book. She’s strong without being masculine, determined without being pigheaded, clever without being annoying, and feminine without being a caricature. She’s a natural leader who doesn’t seem to realize her skills as a leader; it’s not that she’s using them deliberately, it just sort of happens.
Overall, I was super pleased with this as a random-selection. I have to admit that it was the cover which grabbed my eye, but the story & writing kept my attention. It earns a 5/5.