Review: Empire Ascendant. Worldbreaker Saga 2 by Kameron Hurley

Loyalties are tested when worlds collide…empire-ascendant
 
Every two thousand years, the dark star Oma appears in the sky, bringing with it a tide of death and destruction. And those who survive must contend with friends and enemies newly imbued with violent powers. The kingdom of Saiduan already lies in ruin, decimated by invaders from another world who share the faces of those they seek to destroy.

Now the nation of Dhai is under siege by the same force. Their only hope for survival lies in the hands of an illegitimate ruler and a scullery maid with a powerful – but unpredictable –magic. As the foreign

Empire spreads across the world like a disease, one of their former allies takes up her Empress’s sword again to unseat them, and two enslaved scholars begin a treacherous journey home with a long-lost secret that they hope is the key to the Empire’s undoing.

But when the enemy shares your own face, who can be trusted?

1. The Mirror Empire (Review)

This book confused the living hell out of me and was super disgusting.

I kinda liked it, still. It is a weird case, similar to what I felt while reading the first book. I don’t get everything. I feel confused about whom is invading whom and where they are and which person is from which world.. There is a LOT going on.

So why is it so hard to follow?

  1. The Glossary takes up about 7% of my Kindle version. There are that many people and different places, clans, objects, that need extra explaining. I never used the glossary though.
  2. The concept of this novel is, that there are several different worlds that are mirrors of each other. The same people exist in both worlds, but are slightly different to one another. The only thing that never varies is their name.
  3. Some people destroyed their worlds, resulting in fire falling from the skies and killing everyone. It is possible to move between worlds though so people try to INVADE other worlds
  4. They can ONLY cross when their counterparts in those worlds are DEAD. If not, there’s some invisible barrier.
  5. This leads to the fact that they are sending people over to kill as many people as possible, so THEIR OWN can cross!
  6. You can’t just tear open a way to another world. You either need tons and tons of blood or a skilled magician who has control over the star Oma… which has been descendant, so that hasn’t been an option. If your star is nowhere to be seen, you can’t do magic.

There’s a whole big cast of pov characters, sometimes even 2 versions of the same person! They are jumping from world to world as well, but not as much, so that’s cool.

There is a lot of graphic violence. From detailed descriptions to someone getting hacked to pieces and drained down the toilet(?) to someone having his intestines pulled out and his liver thrown across the room. Lots of cutting off limbs in general. Poor Zezili. She ends up with only 3 good fingers, but damn, is she a badass. A horrible person, but still tough as hell.

There are characters who have a third gender and are referred to as ‘ze’ and ‘hir’. I don’t mind the concept of having another gender, but those pronouns made it hard to read.

I still like the fact, that in this story, the women are the leaders, fighters, generals and the men are the ones supporting them, staying at home & looking after the kids. Not all of them though, there are of course exceptions. It was refreshing^^

The story is basically just people trying to survive and protect their own. The whole world is at war and everyone somehow needs to cope with it. While some try to push away the invaders, others try to uncover the secret of the various temples that can be found around the country.

I’d describe this as dark, grim & gritty Fantasy, with more grey characters and only a couple truly ‘good’ ones. They mostly don’t make it very far. The ruthless survive in this world and you can expect main characters to die at any time.

This and the fact, that the action doesn’t stop and I really liked most of the characters, like Roh, Lilia, Taigan or Akhio, made me overlook all the negative things.

I didn’t think I’d want to, but I actually will be reading the next part when it gets published. After finishing the book, I DO get the bigger picture, even though I don’t remember every character ‘s role.

★★★☆

8 comments

    1. Hi! No, it’s 5-stars, but I just realized it IS confusing cause i’m also using half stars.. so this rating is a 3.5. 3 full stars and one empty=half one..

      Argh, i think that might not have been a good idea.. Gotta look over it again at the weekend^^

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I did not enjoy The Mirror Empire so that was it for me with this series. It’s been several years since I read it so I’d have to go back and see specifically what didn’t work for me, but kudos to you for getting through this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Same here. I was quite disappointed with Mirror Empire, especially with the stereotypical gender role reversal which seemed rather primitive and vengeful 😉 I’d seen a lot of potential in the worldbuilding, but the stereotypical characters and the story itself (especially the ending!) just sort of ruined the whole thing for me. Come to think of it, I believe I have a review of it somewhere on the blog… Anyway, respect for getting through the second part! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds awesome! I really *enjoyed* (I don’t think that’s the word I want, but I can’t think of another one) Hurley’s Stars are Legion, and this sounds like it has some of the same characteristics – blood and lots of it, gender stuff, very alien ways of doing things, etc. I’m in! (Your reservations about this series – and everyone who commented too – are duly noted however …) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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