Friday, January 23, 2015

Empire of Shadows by Miriam Foster

Series: Bhinian Empire (bk. 2) Prequel to City of a Thousand Dolls

Genera(s): High Fantasy

Subjects: Asian mythology, shape-shifters, supernatural, body guards

Setting: The Bhinian Empire, which is under a dome that cuts it off from the rest of the world.

POV/Tense: 3rd person POV, past tense rotating between Mara and Emil

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 489 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “Cast out of her family three years ago, Mara turned to the only place that would take her—a school where students train to protect others. But Mara is stunned when guarding a noble girl in the Empire’s capital turns out to be more dangerous than she could’ve imagined. More shocking still, she finds the boy she thought she had lost forever outside the gates of her new home.

Mara knew her life in the dizzying Imperial city would hold dangers. How could she have known that her heart, as well as her life, would be at stake?

Empire of Shadows will take readers on a spellbinding journey into the world Miriam Forster first introduced in City of a Thousand Dolls—a world with a divided society, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and deeply laid conspiracies.”

My Review:  Empire of Shadows is the prequel to City of a Thousand Dolls. It takes place years before the events in that book occur. I was hoping for a sequel that would involve the dome around the empire coming down and everyone discovering that the world outside was different, but this is not the case. That was the only this that disappointed me about this book. That, and it was almost 500 pages long. It was not quite as good as City of a Thousand Dolls was, but still pretty awesome, and I gave it four stars.

Mara is a tiger sune, but she has stayed in human form for years because she’s afraid of loosing control again. She trained with the Order of Khatar to become a bodyguard and regain her honor. She sets to find the one she will pledge to. The other main character, Emil, is part of the Kildi, a wind caste band of travelers descended from the old empire. They sell only what the make. They’re kind of like a gypsy bandwagon, but they trade rather than con. Emil has a fraternal twin brother named Stefan, and their father is the leader of their group. His father holds him up to high standard and his brother is always frowned upon for immaturity.

This is an amazing fantasy series. It’s completely different from the generic high fantasy books that are based off of medieval England and Europe, and other western cultures. The mythology and culture is Asian, non-western, mainly India with some Japanese and Chinese elements mixed in. The Sune, which are animal-spirit shape-shifters, come from Shintoism, a Japanese religion. The story is tale of culture, friendship, romance, adventure and discovery. Mara is trying to redeem herself, and Stefan is going after his brother. They both are searching for something and learning. There was fight and action with claws and weapon, humor and witty conversation, amazing world building. It’s a well-rounded, unique fantasy that also has paranormal and dystopian elements.

I recommend this book to those who enjoyed fantasy books such as: Soulbound by Heather Brewer, Shadows and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, and Prophecy by Ellen Oh. Those who enjoyed paranormal books such as Vampire Acamdemy by Richelle Mead. Also those who enjoyed dystopian books such as Divergent by Veronica Roth (the castes are like factions, kind of), The Selection by Kiera Cass, The Jewel by Amy Ewing, and any dystopian book that takes place in a cut off society or under a dome.  

Cover Art Review: I love the colors and the text. The symbols still confuse me. I don’t know what caste they each represent. Colin Anderson is the cover designer and he did the Burning Sky covers too.

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