Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhoda Belleza
I get the this title wrong in my head every time. I keep wanting to say Empress of a Thousands Suns! When I heard this book described as Arya Stark in space I thought I had to have it. It’s about Rhee- the last surviving member of the royal family on the verge of being named Empress and getting revenge when a would be assassination plot screws that up royally. It also screws up things for Aly- a war refugee whose found fame as a reality star.
So even in space I will not be allowed to get away from reality television.
Truth is, this book starts out interesting. The world building is dense. Really dense. There’s a lot of planets and a lot of history involving wars and politics. Racism and discrimination. There’s an entire thing involving these memory chips and disappearing scientists (which I actually just saw an episode of Black Mirror that had seemingly the same technology though it’s destruction was more personal and in Empress it also has some seriously far-reaching consequences.) So lot going on.
And I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. The thing is and this is a spoiler yes but a spoiler for something that doesn’t happen but just in case…
The two main characters never meet! They see each other across a crowded room and Aly is accused of murdering the Princess but they never speak. But don’t think that means there’s no romance because we still get a romance with Aly and the girl he runs into. At one point they were kissing and I was like, “Already?” Of course I guess when you’re on the run from a vast conspiracy and people trying to kill you you have to take what you can get.
I really liked Aly especially in the beginning. I thought his character was strong and smart and it was really moving to see why he had chosen to stay on the show and try to help out his people. I still definitely prefer his character but then yeah, boy meets girl. I also liked his partner and for some reason was tickled by the idea of reality stars in space and the whole entertainment system when it encompasses planets.
The writing here is really interesting because there’s a lot of potential. I could see it in the world building and in the characters but I also thought there was too much falling back into cliffhanger chapter endings, instantaneous love, a villain who talks to much and a couple of twists. One that kind of annoyed me and one you’re going to see coming right away. Like you do not need to wait for the end of the book to know what’s coming.
Recommend: 50/50 This is weird but after reading this I know I will definitely try more from this author in the future but probably not this particular story or world.