Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Empire of Shadows

IBSN: 0062121332 
Pages: 496
Source: Library:
Appearance: 
18716722

Summary:
Cast out of her family three years ago, Mara turned to the only place that would take her—a school where students train to protect others. But Mara is stunned when guarding a noble girl in the Empire’s capital turns out to be more dangerous than she could’ve imagined. More shocking still, she finds the boy she thought she had lost forever outside the gates of her new home.
Mara knew her life in the dizzying Imperial city would hold dangers. How could she have known that her heart, as well as her life, would be at stake?
Empire of Shadows will take readers on a spellbinding journey into the world Miriam Forster first introduced in City of a Thousand Dolls—a world with a divided society, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and deeply laid conspiracies.
 

Hello everyone!  I just finished The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson which left me in a reading slump that I'm still struggling to get over, but I did manage to finish Empire of Shadows so I'm slowly healing from that ending. Anyway, this is the second book in the Bhinian Empire series with the first book being City of a Thousand Dolls which I really enjoyed. I'm starting to ramble, let's get into my thoughts~

Empire of Shadows is more of a prequel companion novel to City of a Thousand Dolls than a sequel. It follows Mara and Emil, who are Nisha's parents and how their separate stories got intertwined. To avoid some spoilers, Mara has blood on her hands and she joins the Order to atone for her actions. When she is released to find a charge to bond with till death, she heads for the Imperial City and meets Emil and his brother Stefan when they are facing an angry tiger Sune. Mara helps them escape being turned into a meal and they part ways, not knowing that they'll meet within the city walls soon enough.

I was kind of sad when I found out that Empire of Shadows was a prequel novel rather than a sequel, but once I figured out who the story followed I was actually pretty excited. It follows how Nisha's parents meet and how Nisha came to be left at the City. I don't know if it's because I've read Miriam Forster's first book but Empire of Shadows grabbed my attention from the very beginning and it took me no time to get into the story and flipping the pages like a madwoman because I wanted to read everything in a second. It is so much easier to get to and everything weaves together a lot smoother. Also, the characters are really well developed which was amazing :)

I'm guessing it's no surprise to say that Mara reminded me of Nisha but she did. She's kind of the tougher version of Nisha since she is a Sune and a warrior. After she leaves the Order, she journeys to the Imperial City to find some sort of work until she can find a charge to bond with. The rules of the Order are that she must bond herself to a person worth fighting for until her death or the death of her charge. In the beginning, she's this very broken and scared person but as the story progresses and she realizes that her past sins are not the definition of who she is AND once she embraces her complete self, she really grows as a characters.

Emil and Stefan actually remind me a bit of my relationship with my sister. We bicker all the time and more times than not it turns into major silent treatments. Emil is the levelheaded one who is very strong and steady. He knows what's expected of him and tries to please his father even if it's not what he wants. I'm not really sure how to describe him, but he's just one of those really solid guys that you know you can depend on. Stefan is the hothead but it is very clear that he loves his family. He just want to do something worthwile and prove that he's not useless which his father definitely drills into his head. To me, the whole tension between Emil and Stefan is all caused by their father's praise of Emil and his scolding of Stefan. 

Guess what? Esmer comes back and I loved her. Young Esmer is snarky, fun, and dependable. She's extremely loyal to Emil so it makes sense why she'd watch over his daughter in the City. Their relationship is one built on trust, loyalty, and support which makes is super strong and dependable. Another character is Revathi who Mara bodyguards when she enter the Imperial City. Revathi is the ultimate cunning noblewoman and it was really awesome to see her grow in combat skill to add to her already huge list of court manipulation. Seriously, can someone teach me how to use a fan to communicate?

If it isn't already obvious, I really really enjoyed this book, but it still left me feeling a bit empty at the end. While major plot twists occurred and I won't lie, it took me a while to align Sudev from City with Sudev from this book, there were still many things that were left unanswered. The epilogue of the book ends with Mara leaving Nisha at the City and asking a House Mistress to watch over Nisha for her. She doesn't say who is watching them, only that she fears that she and Emil will soon die and she wants to spare Nisha the same fate. 

So...in conclusion: I want a third book! I read in an interview somewhere that Miriam Forster is taking a break from all this high fantasy writing and is exploring a different genre which I'm super excited for, but I want to know what happens next? Or another story, just something in this same fantastic world that I adore. If you're read the book, let me know because I need someone to speculate with me the real causes of Mara and Emil's death!

4 out of 5 stars
  

Foreverly Obsessed,

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