“The Emperor’s Edge” by Lindsay Buroker

The Emperor’s Edge is the first full novel (the paperback is 319 pages) that I read on my new Kindle, so that’s pretty exciting. I went on a free fantasy novel download spree as soon as I got it, and this was one of the books I got.

This book is marketed as a “high fantasy set in an era of steam.” I really enjoyed the setting; it was a nice change from the usual medieval-inspired fantasy worlds. (Mistborn: The Alloy of Law had a similar world, although we saw the world in its medieval state in the previous Mistborn trilogy.) The protagonist is Amaranthe, an enforcer (police officer) who suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of the law through no fault of her own. She assembles a crew of misfits (also like in the Mistborn Trilogy) to help her find out what’s going on and perhaps help defeat some evil forces.

This was a fun book – it is written in a lighthearted style but still has plenty of heart. The gang of misfits was also extremely lovable – there’s Books, the drunk professor, Maldynado the preening dandy with a heart of gold, Sicarius, the extremely deadly assassin and Akstyr, the sullen ex-gang member teenager that can also do magic. Even though I thought they were all a bit crazy for going along with Amaranthe’s plan, I think that’s part of their characters – they’re all smart people that feel underutilised.

I also thought Amaranthe was a great protagonist. It’s refreshing to have a fantasy novel that has a non-magic user protagonist. Magic doesn’t actually play very much of a role in the story; it’s just there. Amaranthe is the team’s coordinator and leader, but what she’s really good at is managing people and skills, and coming up with ideas. She’s a competent fighter, but what she’s really good at is talking people into doing things for her. She reminded me a lot of Nate Ford from Leverage, both in her role in the team and that she’s an ex-official good guy doing good things using illegal methods. I also liked the fact that Buroker refrained from introducing any major romantic subplots while exploring various characters being attracted to each other.

Another exciting thing about the book was Amaranthe’s plan to save her empire. Let’s just say that it involved economics, which was pretty unusual.

This is a planned six-book series, out of which three are out. I really want to read Dark Currents and Deadly Games right away, but will probably hold off on it until I get through some more books in my pile. I’m looking forward to seeing the universe of the books explored some more – the magic system and the neighbouring countries especially. I was also a bit dubious that these characters will stay in a team, and I think Buroker addresses that in the next couple of books.

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