Hostage of Empire Book 1 by S.C. Emmett
Published on: October 15, 2019
I absolutely loved this rich, complex story, which is filled with what feels like a multitude of characters that each have their own motives and purpose within the story. The Throne of the Five Winds is simply beautifully written and one I whole-heartedly recommend.
Two queens, two concubines, six princes. Innumerable secret agendas.A single hidden blade.
The imperial palace — full of ambitious royals, sly gossip, and unforeseen perils — is perhaps the most dangerous place in the Empire of Zhaon. Komor Yala, lady-in-waiting to the princess of the vanquished kingdom of Khir, has only her wits and her hidden blade to protect herself and her charge, who was sacrificed in marriage to the enemy as a hostage for her conquered people’s good behavior, to secure a tenuous peace.
But the Emperor is aging, and the Khir princess and her lady-in-waiting soon find themselves pawns in the six princes’ deadly schemes for the throne — and a single spark could ignite fresh rebellion in Khir.
Then, the Emperor falls ill — and a far bloodier game begins…
The Throne of the Five Winds is the first installment of the Hostage of Empire series, an intricate and ruthless East Asia-inspired epic fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of George R. R. Martin, Ken Liu, Kate Elliott, and K. Arsenault Rivera.
Oh my goodness – this book is long. 704 pages long. I’m not used to reading for hours and not be 10% into a book. Well, truthfully, it took a bit longer at the beginning because of the overall complexity of the book and sheer number of characters. The first few chapters switched between the different locations and characters and I had to learn how to keep it all straight – for example, when someone was referenced in chapter 4 or 5, I needed to go back and see what was said about them in chapter 2 to put all the pieces together in my mind. For this reason, the first several chapters were not ones where I could put down the book and pick it back up later and immediately know where I was in the story. However, once I figured out who the 2 queens, 2 concubines, 6 princes, 1 adopted-son/prince, and 2 princesses were plus the characters from Khir, it became a much easier read.
In The Thone of the Five Winds, there are three main characters: Yala – a noble lady who agrees to be Princess Mahara of Khir’s lady-in -waiting as she goes to Zhoan to marry Crown Prince Takeyo. Kai – General of Zhoan and adopted son of Second Concubine Kanbina, and third prince Takshin – a son who had been sent at a young age to another kingdom to serve under a Mad Queen.
Within the kingdom of Zhaon, Emperor Tamuron’s wives and various sons play games as they jockey for power. Some of these games are very subtle – where they might say something that sounds pretty benign to me and yet mean a huge insult to another character. But some are not subtle – there are poisonings and multiple assassination attempts. As a lady-in-waiting, Yala must work through all the politics and slights to ensure Princess Mahara’s honor and dignity remains intact. It is in this where you find what the main story centers around.
At the end of the book it comes to a conclusion where you can see the author’s handiwork in getting it setup rather nicely for the next book in the series. It concludes with multiple plot points to pick up where we leave off in this one as well as heightened tensions that you can see coming, but are not there yet. Overall I really, really enjoyed this Asia-inspired fantasy book. I truly appreciated it’s maturity level and its seriousness. Sometimes you want to read a light-hearted fantasy that has a more modern feel to it and then there are times when you don’t – where political games are done very subtly. It took a while to read through, but what I enjoyed was how excited I was to get back to it every chance I got. I am really looking forward to the next in the series.
Rating: 5 stars
Thanks to Netgalley and Orbit Books for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.