Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe is tasked with hunting down a notorious assassin, but gets caught up in larger issues.
The full title (“Lindsay Buroker’s The Emperor’s Edge”) is awkward and a bit pretentious (perhaps a shared universe in formation?), but don’t hold that against the book.
Title aside, The Emperor’s Edge is actually a pretty smooth piece of writing. It’s straightforward fantasy, lightly steamed. Amaranthe, an enforcer (police), learns of a dangerous threat to the empire, and very quickly is left to her own devices to save it.
The writing is good, with setting quickly established, and likeable, differentiated characters to follow. If it were just down to writing and overall story, I’d be happy to follow this adventure further.
Unfortunately, the plotting doesn’t hold up. While seemingly not intended as a young adult book, the plot elements are very YA. For example, the threatened emperor is a genius, a pacifist, cares about working folks, and wants to introduce democracy – and he’s barely out of his teens. I prefer my fantasy with a higher level of realism.
Similarly, Amaranthe, thrown out of the force and at risk, is almost immediately able to set up a highly qualified team of experts who all happen to have the skills she needs, and all willing to work for free. She faces almost no challenges on this front. And despite a high price on her head, she’s able to wander the streets and go to parties pretty much at will. It just doesn’t hold up.
It’s a shame the plotting is so weak, because the other elements of the book were a lot of fun to read. I’d like to put this down to first-novelitis, but I see that Buroker has many other books to her credit.
If you like good writing, and really don’t care about credibility, check this out. If you demand that things could actually work, I can’t recommend it.