Hello! Welcome to another review here on the Swordsmith blog, westu hal to you. I am coming to you today with a review of a book that I have been so glad to read. It’s an amazing work of epic fantasy showing just how well secondary creation can be used. It has everything from political infighting, secrets, magic to cinematic and intense battle scenes, welcome to my review of Seven Deaths of an Empire by G.R. Matthews.
Now before we go any further, I would like to say a big thank you to Hannah Waigh from Rebellion Publishing who kindly provided me with an ARC copy. It was one of the nicest surprises when it arrived and it sits proudly on the bookshelf.
Now it’s time for the blurb
The Emperor is dead. Long live the Empire.
General Bordan has a lifetime of duty and sacrifice behind him in the service of the Empire. But with rebellion brewing in the countryside, and assassins, thieves and politicians vying for power in the city, it is all Bordan can do to protect the heir to the throne.
Apprentice Magician Kyron is assigned to the late Emperor’s honour guard escorting his body on the long road back to the capital. Mistrusted and feared by his own people, even a magician’s power may fail when enemies emerge from the forests, for whoever is in control of the Emperor’s body, controls the succession.
The story begins with a significant and defining event, news of the Emperor’s death which General Bordan recevies. The story then continues on at a fantastic pace, while there are many named characters Geoff uses two POV characters, General Bordan and Apprentice Magician Kyrian. They tell two very different but intertwining stories, one struggles to maintain the empire and the other fights for a cause and his duty to protect the body of the Emperor. Something I have always admired about Geoff’s writing is his character work, it’s brilliant. The characters personality’s leap off the page, everyone from your main characters to well drawn and important secondary characters. Even more importantly for an epic work of fantasy the characters drive the plot, from that one defining moment at the beginning the characters are set on pursuing their agendas.
The characters are all at home in the finest examples of a secondary created world, if you read this it will take you to long to realise this is a Roman Empire inspired world. The Six Kingdoms are being conquered by a civilisation and subjugated to their rule, much like the Roman Empire. Something that Geoff does wonderfully is parallel the difficulty the Roman Army had against the tribes of Germania. Flowing through this story is the magic system, it is as mysterious as it is powerful. It is rules based, in the sense that characters who are magic users become very tired after persistent use of it. It’s brilliant because both the Empire and its enemies have access and can use it, making for some of the most intense, cinematic battle scenes you will encounter in a book.
This also brings me to a point that I first made when I finished this, this such a wonderfully built world. As mentioned it is character driven, so you discover the world through the eyes (and actions) of the POV characters. I took great joy from discovering this world which is drawn from one of my favourite historical empires, but I never felt there was any info dump. The pace of the story is well delivered across the nearly 682 page epic (at least in my ARC copy), allowing Geoff to explore and introduce this world. Although you only really see snapshots from the POV’s, it doesn’t stop the history of the Empire coming through. The worldbuilding really starts from chapter 1 and doesn’t let off, allowing this beautifully constructed world to be built through the entirety of the book and through to the pulse pounding ending.
So there you are, this easily gets my seal of approval and is a recommendation for you to read. It’s an astounding work of epic fantasy, a genius use of secondary creation with cinematic battle scenes. It’s a character driven work, featuring a rules based magic system that is as mysterious as it is powerful and a fascinating look at empire and its effect on people. The political infighting and secrets all play a key role in the events that lead through to the end, why is it called Seven Deaths of an Empire? Read the story and piece it all together, it’s wonderful.
That’s all from me, I hope that you are staying safe and reading something awesome. Westu hal.