It was not his war.
Empire of Silence
by Christopher Ruocchio
“It is a mistake to believe we must know a thing to be influenced by it. It is a mistake to believe the thing must even be real.”―
Empire of Silence, Christopher Ruocchio
Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.
It was not his war.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe started down a path that could only end in fire. The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives–even the Emperor himself–against Imperial orders.
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
Fleeing his father and a future as a torturer, Hadrian finds himself stranded on a strange, backwater world. Forced to fight as a gladiator and into the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, he will find himself fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.
I have always had a fascination with Space Opera. That huge canvas spread across a galaxy, with all the myriad elements of politics, adventure and villainy. This book has those in spades. While it has superficial resemblances to books like Dune, it definitely takes it’s own path. Hadrian Marlowe is no Paul Mau’dib.
As much as he doesn’t like the nobles of the Empire, he still has quite a few noble notions about class and peoples place in society. Bearing a striking resemblance to Roman despotism, the Empire, separated as it is by distance and the limits of space travel, still manages to act as a cohesive unit. It is an excellent bit of world building, with much attention lavished on the political and religious systems, as well as the various outsiders.
The plot is paced well, letting what needs to burn slow have time to develop, while letting the action set pieces barrel ahead full speed. The author does a fantastic job developing the characters, showing no fear in exposing them, warts and all, making them much more realistic than you would expect.
The narration was handled quite well by Samuel Roukin. This is the first book I’ve heard him narrate, but he did an outstanding job bringing the characters and story to life. His narrative pacing is good, and he definitely has a talent for creating memorable, individualized character voices. I look forward to his work in the future.
All in all, this is one of my top five reads of 2018, hands down. Any fan of stories like Dune or Deathstalker should find something to enjoy in this book.
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I have literally been a fan of fantasy/magic my whole life, with some of the earliest memories I have being my mother stories of brujas and spirits in the town in Puerto Rico where she was born. What really flipped the fantasy switch on full, though, was discovering a battered copy of the Sword of Shannara that cost me 25 cents at the local used book store when I was 11.
Its been a long journey since that day almost 40 years ago, and thousands of books later, here we are. Living with my wife, our two non-adult kids, four cats and a vicious attack beast Chihuahua about an hour south of Seattle, I’m glad to be able to share my love of fantasy and science fiction, especially Indie and small press, with anyone who’s interested.