Posts Tagged With: Empire in Black and Gold

Fantasy Blogosphere: July 11, 2011

A Dance with Dragons teeters on the brink of release, and the fantasy blogosphere is flooding with reviews now that the embargo on reviews is lifted. Also this week, we found reviews of books by authors Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Adrian Tchaikovsky and R. Scott Bakker, as well as an interview with Lev Grossman. Some cool fantasy art appeared this week as well, with the cover for the Game of Thrones dropping, and a really cool new map of Westeros. Photos from The Hobbit movie are starting to cross the blogosphere as well. Enough to get excited about yet?

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Top 10 Fantasy Books of 2010

Like I did last year, I’m going to recap the top 10 fantasy novels of 2010. Unlike last year, this time I’m splitting the difference. Five novels in the top 10 are the favorites I read over the past year, and the other five are novels that I haven’t read, but spent a good deal of time on the Amazon top 5 fantasy bestseller list. If you’re looking for a gift, its likely that any book from this list will delight the recipient.

This is the first in a series of Top 10 posts covering the fantasy industry. Next week, we cover the Top 10 Fantasy Book Trends of 2010.

Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Lamentation was one of my favorite fantasy reads of 2010. A vibrant new world, painted with colorful, unique characters, all wrapped into a story with heart, makes for a fantastic package. This first installment promises a quality series to come in The Psalms of Isaak. Check out my full review of Lamentation.

fantasy books Lamentation

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie was the best fantasy novel I read in 2010. Gritty, fast-paced, and filled with action, this first novel in a new epic fantasy series solidifies Abercrombie as one of the premier new authors in fantasy literature. The characterization isn’t just top-notch, the characters in The Blade Itself are unforgettable. Not only does Abercrombie deliver a quality novel, but there are moments of hilarity contained in these pages. Abercrombie is an honest, open-minded author, and these qualities shine in The Blade Itself. Check out my full review of The Blade Itself.

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Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Yet another fantastic first novel in a series discovered in 2010. Empire in Black and Gold kicks off at a frantic pace, in the middle of a battle, and doesn’t relent for the rest of the novel. Absolutely blistering pace is combined with a truly original idea for characterization: all the characters in this novel are some derivation of what Tchaikovsky describes as kinden, which are half-human and half fill-in-the-insect. This makes for some truly unique elements in fighting, and opens up the opportunity for all kinds of historical backgrounds among the different kinden in novels to come. As if to match the blistering pace of the novel itself, Pyr has been releasing the novels in The Shadows of the Apt series every three months or so since this novel’s original release date. Looks like I’ve got some catch up reading to do. Check out my full review of Empire in Black and Gold.

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Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Daemon was, hands down, the most addictive novel I’ve ever read. While blending elements of fantasy and sci-fi (something I normally don’t enjoy), this techno-thriller beats the pace of a Dan Brown novel into a quivering pulp and delivers a novel that you can’t help but devour in a week or so. The hook: a computer game design company founder writes a code that monitors news headlines online. When he dies, it triggers a series of events that attempt to takeover the economy and portions of the government. Oddly, the DDOS attacks on large corporate web sites recently in relation to the WikiLeaks site are eerily reminiscent of the themes discussed in this novel. Scary. Check out my full review of Daemon.

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Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I’ve read a few Sanderson novels at this point, and Elantris is, if not tied for favorite with Mistborn, my favorite Sanderson novel. This novel contains similar themes as Mistborn, but was written prior, and I believe Sanderson had an insatiable appetite for writing fantastic fiction at the time. This is a beautiful story, self-contained in one volume, that is definitely worth going back and reading for any Sanderson fans who have tasted his more recent work. Check out my full review of Elantris.

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Review: Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Book review of Adrian Tchaokovsky’s Empire in Black and Gold

Empire in Black and GoldAdrian Tchaikovsky has been tearing up the fantasy genre recently. Pyr is releasing the novels in the Shadows of the Apt series at a blistering pace: Empire in Black and Gold is the first and was released in early 2010. The Scarab Path, book 5 (yes, that’s right, 5) in the series is already available on The cover for Empire in Black and Gold reminds me of a comic book, and the characters in the novel actually support the theme that this book would easily make the translation to graphic novel or feature film. I had read a few reviews prior to picking up Empire in Black and Gold, but I didn’t quite know what to expect.

I was wary after about the first fifty pages of Empire in Black and Gold, as while I was starting to like the characters, and the action was surely top notch, I was slightly annoyed by the play on words that is the mark of authors who are just starting off their careers. Here’s an example:

“Will you find some calm?” he said, starting to lose his own.

This type of prose drives me nuts, as it strikes me as an author attempting to be tricky with words, and falling flat on his face. It also interrupts the flow of the page, because you just have to stop and shake your head. However, this is a minor flaw, and one that does not resurface much as the novel progressed, and I was thoroughly entertained as I made my way through Empire in Black and Gold.

The front runner of Empire in Black and Gold’s qualities is undeniably its fast-paced action scenes. Tchaikovsky has a wonderful knack for writing thrilling action sequences, that move quickly, but pause in all the right moments just enough to give you a taste of description. It is this talent that reminded me of some of the engrossing detail sequences of Terry Goodkind in Wizard’s First Rule.

Tchaikovsky has created some wonderful characters in Empire in Black and Gold. The characters are all based on some type of insect, from wasp to beetle to dragonfly, spider and mantis, among many others. There is a fantastic butterfly-kinden character named “Grief in Chains”, the idea for which I found highly inventive, for the short periods that she appears in the novel. Where the characterization is lacking in Empire in Black and Gold is in the description of the characters. While these are characters you connect with and feel for, I would have really enjoyed a bit more description of the different insect-kinden types. Instead, we’re just told they are some type of insect, and its up to the reader to guess to what degree that influences their physical attributes.

While Empire in Black and Gold is definitely an action novel first, there are undertones of horror that appear infrequently, which work nicely when paired with an action fantasy. Some of the description contained in the horror scenes is downright dripping with fear:

Who asks? in a voice that was like a dry chorus of a hundred voices. He could not tell whether it came from the trees themselves or from between them, but the sound of it froze him. A voice like dry leaves and the dead husks of things, and the passage of five hundred years.

Where Empire in Black and Gold shines is in Tchaikovsky’s ability to take characters that are at first glance foreign and unfamiliar and make them real. Take this conversation between a wasp and a dragonfly-kinden:

“Well, next time you shed my kinden’s blood, think on this: we are but men, no less nor more than other men, and we strive and feel joy and fail as men have always done. We live in the darkness that is the birthright of us all, that of hurt and ignorance, only sometimes…sometimes there comes the sun.”

Empire in Black and Gold is a fantastic first novel in a promising new series. I’m definitely looking forward to finding time to consume the second novel in the series.

You can purchase Empire in Black and Gold over at

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 7 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

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Fantasy Blogosphere: June 27, 2010

The cover for Gail Z. Martin’s The Sworn was released this week, and we’ve got a great mix of reviews, from Terry Brooks’ latest to a pair of Adrian Tchaikovsky novels, to the Swords and Dark Magic compilation. We’ve also located an interview with George R.R. Martin’s editor who discusses her work on A Clash of Kings. Topping off this week is our first mention of eReaders in the fantasy blogosphere, and it comes in the form of Ray Kurzweil offering a solution to books that get mangled by current eReader software.

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Fantasy Blogosphere: May 23, 2010

We’ve found so many reviews this week you won’t know where to begin. From Warriors to Furies to Empires you can check out reviews of some of fantasy’s hottest authors and recent works here.

Last on our list this week is an interview at The Dragon Page with Charlaine Harris, and I have to say I was disappointed. Not in the interview, the interview is in fact great, but I was really hoping to find a mastermind behind the wild success of Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels. Rather than sounding like the Sookie novels were planned, well organized and well thought out prior to being written, Harris comes off as aloof, making it sound like all the novels in the series were just written on a whim, and that the success really has nothing to do with any semblance of a structured plan. To me, this lends even more credibility to the notion that the whole vampire romance/urban fantasy genre is a fluke, a fad that will pass as quickly as pogo balls and hot pink Hammer pants. The guys at The Dragon Page seem to hint that they feel the same way, but they dance around it a bit, as is only natural when you’re interviewing one of the genre’s heavyweights. They even go so far as to mention an impending collapse, stating that Harris, Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton would be the only authors in the genre able to survive such an implosion. I’ve been covering the Amazon top 5 fantasy bestsellers for over a year now, and I won’t say I’d welcome such an implosion, but it would freshen up the list a bit. Just sayin’.

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