I stumbled upon this title in a stroke of good fortune, while trolling through “Best Free Kindle Books” over in Listopia. I started reading The Emperor’s Edge
about three minutes later, and three days later, I finished the entire series. It was one of the most satisfying reading binges I’ve ever had, and I’ve re-read the series about five times over since then.
What makes this series so ridiculously good? For one, Buroker does some fantastic world-building. The Emperor’s Edge
has one foot in the fantasy genre and the other in steampunk; the story takes place in another world, but its era is reminiscent of the Industrial Age. A race of militant, technologically advanced people called Turgonians are the reigning superpower, although, at the time our story begins, their empire is feeling some stress. Their war atrocities are coming back to bite them. They have a green adolescent for an emperor. They have denied the existence of magic and trampled out its practice in the Empire, which thrills their enemies who still use it. Women have saturated the booming business sector, and are shaking at the yoke of the patriarchy. Modernity looms, and with it, a tipping point.
Our protagonist is Corporal Amaranthe Lokdon, a clever, young Turgonian woman, who gave up a promising business career to become one of the few female law enforcers in the capital. Amaranthe is thirsty for social progress, and wants to become a person of influence — a trailblazer. The plot is kicked into gear when Amaranthe unknowingly gets on the wrong side of a corrupt government higher-up. Before she knows it, she’s an outlaw with a price on her head.
The story really becomes fantastic when the cast of supporting characters comes together. Amaranthe recruits a team of misfits to assist her in saving the floundering and endangered young emperor. Her first recruit, and the break-out star of the series, is Sicarius, a rogue assassin and Turgonia’s Most Wanted killer. Alongside him come an erudite, alcoholic ex-professor, an ill-mannered, teenage street punk who illegally practices magic, and a disowned dandy with a penchant for avant garde hats.
The dialogue that erupts from this ensemble is laugh-out-loud hilarious and only gets better as the series progresses. In an interview, Buroker has mentioned that the conception for the series came from her desire to read an epic, high-stakes adventure with a light-hearted, comedic tone. She succeeds utterly. The series has everything going for it — action, adventure, romance, comedy, magicians, a train heist, beasts, prison breaks, trysts, travel, explosives, law-breaking, disguises, weapons, lorry chases, a kraken, dirigibles, more explosions, and a socially-awkward assassin.
I recommend to everyone.