They call him the Usurper.
A man of common blood sits on the throne. At his command the last emperor was executed, but vengeance is coming…
Endymion is an Empath. He was born with the ability to feel another’s emotions and reach inside their hearts for their deepest secrets. Often despised, he lives a nomadic existence, but when he finds himself imprisoned for sorcery and facing death, his past will condemn him. Born Prince Takehiko Otako, the only surviving son of the True Emperor, Endymion is caught in the brewing storm. But as his skill grows beyond his control, has the truth come too late?
The fight for the Crimson Throne has begun.
Having read In Shadows We Fall a few weeks back, I knew I needed to pick up more of Devin Madson’s work. Her most recent series, starting with We Ride the Storm, seems to be everywhere at the moment, so I’ll definitely around to it, but In Shadows We Fall was a prequel to an earlier series of her’s, The Vengeance Trilogy, so I’m giving that a go first – and I’ve got to say I am loving it!
The first of the book in the series is The Blood of Whisperers and it captures you from the first lines. We are chucked straight into the action from the opening chapter. This gives you the feeling of being chucked in at the deep end and gives the story a furious pace that never lets up. However, nothing is overly complicated here so after a chapter or two I felt pretty much up to speed. Every scene/chapter clearly contributes to the overarching plot and there is no filler where you are just spending time getting to know the characters or setting – you’ll get to know them as the story progresses, so buckle up! This gives the story a really streamlined feel that, if I had to compare it to anything else I have read recently, it would be Evan Winter’s The Rage of Dragons or Mike Shackle’s We Are The Dead.
The conflict and plot resolves around the battles for the throne of the Kisian Empire – and Kisia seems to have had a rough time of it lately! We get three POV characters here, each with their own link to the throne or one of its major competitors. One of my favourite things about the way this was done was that it leaves you with no bias on who wins the conflict and we are left to make up our own mind on who we want. Which is different to a Game of Thrones were we spend so long with the Starks to begin with that they are clearly who we all end up rooting for.
First, we have Endymion. He is a Empath, which means he can feel and manipulate people’s emotions. This is a power he keeps secret as those with magic powers are mistrusted and hunted. He has been raised by monks beyond the northern border of the empire, in neighbouring Chiltae. His past and heritage is unknown, even to him, but he is the true heir to the throne as the last surviving child of Emperor Lan, whose assassination seems to have started all this mess! He is possibly the most intriguing of the main characters, certainly to begin with, but I don’t truly know who my favourite is.
Next, we have Hana Otako, who is sister to Endymion, though they have no idea about each other. She is currently fighting alongside her cousin, Katashi Otako, against the current Emperor, Kin – a man of common blood and who won the throne in a civil war 5 years previously. Despite their family links, Katashi and Hana are each plotting to sit upon the throne themselves.
Our third and final POV character is Lord Darius Laroth. He is one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the empire, and the right-hand man to Emperor Kin. However, secretly, he has his own past and connections to the other POV characters that will stretch his loyalties and razor-sharp mind to the limit.
Overall, I definitely recommend this book. It’s got action and political machinations galore, all within a breakneck speed story. If poetic writing and spending time learning about your characters is a must have for you, then this might not be for you, but I loved it once I got my feet in the world and have jumped straight into the next book in the series, The Gods of Vice, already!