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The Emperor's Knife: Book One of the Tower and Knife Trilogy Hardcover – Illustrated, December 27, 2011
"Regretting You" by Colleen Hoover
From New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us comes a novel about family, first love, grief, and betrayal that will touch the hearts of both mothers and daughters. | Learn more
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.28 pounds
- Hardcover : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1597803847
- ISBN-13 : 978-1597803847
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Night Shade; Illustrated Edition (December 27, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,246,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This story on the surface is about a magical disease that when it infects its victims it slowly covers their skin in geometric patterns until no clean flesh remains and they either die or become slaves to an unknown (and evil) master. Despite magical protections, the sickness has set root in the very heart of the empire - the emperor himself. The story is about multiple characters' attempts to both save and unseat his Majesty.
When I initially read this blurb, I was immediately hooked. This story made me think of Weis and Hickman's Death Gate Cycle, and Brett's Warded Man, and even Week's Night Angel series - all of which I enjoyed immensely. I jumped on Amazon (.co.uk) and placed my order. Alas, Amazon was super slow about shipping to the USA, and to top it off after they finally arrived one of (I ordered two copies) the books was missing, and the other was kinda banged up... not what I wanted for my book-snobbery bookshelf! Amazon did fix this and I at least had my reading copy to use. I dove in the first chance I could get.
I have always been intrigued by mazes and labyrinths. A labyrinth is much like a maze and yet completely different. While they both have lots of twists and turns, a labyrinth only leads the journey in one direction. Mazarkis managed to pull off something new - he created a maze of labyrinths with multiple patterns all arriving succinctly at the same spot.
Multiple character plots are threaded together very well so the reader knows mostly what is going on throughout the book. The book's length is average for a fantasy novel today, but reads quite quickly due to the faster than normal pace and the shorter length of its chapters when compared to most other fantasy novels I have read. I may be alone in this, but I find this refreshing - in my opinion too many books nowadays could have easily been half their original length through editor and author distillation while still managing to tell a great (and in many cases better) story. At the end of the book Williams' character plots have all joined neatly together or have ended in their telling leaving the reader quite satisfied with the tale. This clean ending opens up the field wide for book 2.
The characters were well thought out and stayed true to themselves throughout. I did feel some of the characters fell into friendship/love too quickly - or perhaps not too quickly, but just that the building up to these levels of relationships wasn't fully divulged to the reader. Still, the characters were outstanding. They all had their own mentalities, passions, motivations, tragedies, and vices. All the characters were flawed and very human.
The one thing I felt lacking in The Emperor's Knife was world building. I wanted to hear the Persian influenced music in the background, smell the roasting kabobs over the open fire, and hear the throng of people crowding the streets of Nooria in the evening hours. I would like to hear from the commoners themselves what its like surviving in the Cerani Empire. While you get the feeling that the world is immense, the story is primarily told in two locales - the desert and the inner palace. There was no real hustling and bustling in the streets and no venturing into any of the smaller villages dotting the landscape. All this said, the desert is a beautiful place in itself - it just felt empty to me. On the reverse, this emptiness adds to the sense of foreboding throughout the book and the quick pacing which made it so enjoyable. I read an interview today where Mazakis Williams said the next book in the series will be half focused in a more European stylized section of his world. I look forward to exploring this expansion.
Lastly, the magic systems were just awesome. The patterns themselves hold some mystical secrets more ancient than the elemental magics of the mages' tower. And the mages' magic was quite unique as well even though we only saw glimpses. Fans of unique magic systems will be pleased.
I am wavering between 4 (loved it) and 5 (crazy about it) stars. Regardless of the rating, I highly recommend whoever likes original fantasy to give this book (and series) a read. I look forward to the rest of the series and wonder where Mazarkis will bring me next.
I actually enjoyed the first half of the book much more than the second. As right around the middle, one of the characters that I actually liked is randomly killed off/murdered. Then right after the lover of that character saves a woman from being raped/murdered, but then immediately after has sex with her. It was just so weird, unrealistic, and frustrating, that the pace of my reading really slowed down. The novel does get better as it reaches the climax with a lot of entertaining plot twists (Although I foresaw most of them long before), and the ending is enjoyable, especially since the two slightly likeable characters get together (strangely) after their victory. So in the end I liked this book, but I'm not sure I'll be buying and reading the sequel immediately, though I may come back to it later.
I tend to read a lot of nonfiction, and this book has the pull of the best journalistic nonfiction. Not only the unpredictable spread of a disease, but also the twists of treasonous plotting and surprises that made me sputter out loud--these make this a suspense tale as much as a fantasy novel. I just loved it.
Top reviews from other countries
I bought this on it's release and since then have picked it up many times before putting it down and reading something else and I only finished it this Christmas through determined effort and insufficient pleasure.
It is a fantasy with deep and complex politics, against a consuming evil known as the 'pattern' - princes locked in towers, visions and infanticide. The Emperor's Knife is an assassin who takes blood on behalf of the Emperor and is a central character. He, like many of the characters in the book was hard to like and to emphasise with and this was a main failing in the book - insufficient people I actually cared about. Then these people are placed in a deep and complex plot that you have to work very hard to get any joy out of.
Maybe there are those readers who love complex plots and want to absorb every word but for those who like fast paced, entertaining fantasy with engaging characters, this is probably not the book for them.
There are three main stories which all intersect and come together beautifully in the end. The story of Eyul the assassin. Masema the girl from the horse tribes - traded for the demands of politics, and Sarmin the imprisoned prince, kept captive by his family and by his own fears.
This is not your standard fantasy novel, if there is such a thing. It's certainly not your stereotypical fantasy novel. There are no other races but man, no wandering adventurers, no dragons or rampaging orcs. Instead the setting is an empire in flux, as one emperor dies and another takes the throne in a time of peril, as an insidious force reaches out across the sands to ensnare and subvert.
Politics feature heavily, and although the reader is never entirely sure what is going on, this is very clearly by design. It's enough to realise that there are machinations at work and you, the reader, are not privy to all of them. You have been afforded a glimpse and no more. The full extent of them will be revealed as the story unfolds.
The magic system is not explained in any real sense, though the notion of mages bonding with elementals to gain a portion of their power is a new and interesting concept to me. As with the politics, the reader is afforded a glimpse of how things work without having them explained.
Mazarkis Williams is brilliant, she doesn't condescend the reader, she doesn't spoon-feed. Instead she allows the reader to work towards their own conclusions and slowly grasp the pattern that she is weaving.
I'll be honest and admit that I've probably missed at least a large chunk of the elements of the book. It's one that's going to need a reread. As an introduction into her world though, it's wonderful and I will work through the trilogy in a gluttonous fashion before returning to savour the flavours more fully.
I thought that the story lacked any kind of context and the history of Nooria, the Pattern and the culture of the Cerani were skirted over which resulted in my having to piece together these valuable pieces of information from bits of different chapters.
I thought the idea of the pattern and the mysterious pattern master would serve as a great main plot with other sub-plots running throughout the book but this failed to materialise and I found that I was completely unable to relate to any of the characters in the book.
I think the book started far too late in the overall storyline of the pattern, Beyon's rule and history of Nooria and it would have been a much better novel (and trilogy) if it has used the three novels to build up final culmination of the pattern at the end of book three rather than doing it all in book 1 and then having to find extensions of the story in later novels.
I am still mulling over whether to give the trilogy the benefit of the doubt and give the 2nd book a go but at this point in time I doubt I will.