Form: pdf format, e-book
Genre: dark fantasy
Target audience: adulst
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
|Empress of Mijak (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Her name is Hekat–and she will be slave to no man.
In a family torn apart by poverty and violence, Hekat is no more than an unwanted mouth to feed, worth only a few coins from a passing slave trader.
But Hekat was not born to be a slave. For her, a different path has been chosen. It is a path that will take her from stinking back alleys to the house of her god, from blood-drenched battlefields to the glittering palaces of Mijak. For a cost, of course, because nothing comes for free.
What I liked:
‘Empress’ is featuring a very original, recourceful and strong heroine although her character borders psychopatology in the first part, crossing that border frequently in the second. I admit it would be extremely difflicult to like her but, on the other hand, I fully appreciated the fact that Hekat was something fresh, not a clone of your common-and-garden fantasy good girl.
The story is very well-written, there is not one dull passage, the plot never diappoints you. The world building was presented in such a way that you feel fully immersed into the country of Mijak. The novel read like something ripped out of an ancient Sumerian myth of chariots and kings. Slavery! Blood and Entrails! Scorpions! Torture! Death! More scorpions! More death! You almost want to add ‘Heavy Metal’ to that bunch! The magic is there but it is subtle – reserved just for several scenes.
What I didn’t like:
I admit the book would read far better if not for the dialect, which quickly grows tiresome. The religious system of Mijak, based on a primitive, blood-thirsty and rather shifty scorpion deity, could do with some variety. After a while I was rather tired with the whole number of things named after the god: godstone, godpost, godbraids, godpool, godbells, godsmite…godyawn?
And here it comes, my most serious complaint: the main character. Oh Hekat, you stupid fool.
|Mount Everest (topgold) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I need something beautiful here.
I know Hekat had one hell of a childhood, being tortured, underfed, humiliated and hardly ever loved at all. Yes, she has grown up in a life of pain, blood, and the secret whispers of her god, a very primitive and very cruel demonic entity to begin with.The sympathy her childhood suffering had evoked in me was quickly burned away. In its place was left contempt, horror and distaste for her complete lack of altruism. I know she was supposed to be as though as a piece of concertina. Still I believe if it is 100% impossible for any person except for a hardened sociopath to relate to the main character, you end up disliking her story, no matter how well it is told.
Believe me, I’ve read about and even liked many Dark Fantasy monsters but adult Hekat in my opinion is the most deeply crazy, primitive and disgustingly arrogant female ever written about. Her ambitions would fit Mount Everest and her ego is so inflated that you wonder how come she doesn’t float while walking. Still you know what was the worst? No, not the killings and blood baths and the ruthless plotting against her own family. For me it was the fact that Hekat wasn’t honest with herself. She simply lacked the necessary intelligence and lucidity to take a long, hard look at her inner soul and say it loud and clear: yes, I am a monster, THIS is what I’ve become.
What’s worse, there is no counterpoint for her – no other character able to balance all these negative vibes. All Hekat’s lovers (because she has no love interest) are definitely too weak to oppose her wickedness and correct her flaws, too primitive to even understand who and what they are dealing with. Neither sweet, naive Vortka nor Raklion the warlord bother to get to know the real Hekat. One of her enemies, Nagarak, comes the closest to the truth but then he dies (not telling you how, it would be a spoiler). It leaves a strange emotional void around Hekat the Monster so she has to stew in her own nauseatic juice. It is nothing pleasant to read – or to imagine.
A strong beginning of a Dark Fantasy series; still it is not a book for everyone. You will deal here with a thoroughly unlikeable character, surrounded by a bland supporting cast, committing horrible deeds in the name of a sadistic god – consider yourself warned. Will I continue? Yes I will – but mainly because I’ve been told the rest of the series is different – it features less Hekat and more of her handsome and definitely less evil son Zandakar.