Review: The Emperor’s Arrow

The book The Emperor’s Arrow was a short, simple read – something to help me relax and not have to think too much.  And it was perfect. It is about and Amazon – sorry “Amazzi” warrior/noble woman who has been sent by her people as their representative in the emperor’s search for a bride. What she doesn’t know before arriving is that emperor needs her help – his empire is seething with resentments from the wars he has fought and the nobles plot against him.

The style is third-person limited omniscient and the author (Lauren D.M. Smith) uses it well. There were a few times I wish I had been following someone ELSE, but overall that just made me want to go on to the next chapter where I might find out where that other character went.

It is an idealized Alexander The Great/Caesar emperor that is referenced in the title “conquered the world before thirty” sort of dude. Only he didn’t die. He came home and had to rule the damn mess.  I kind of feel sorry for him in that way, but on the other hand it is fun to read these idealized hero-types.  He is stereotypical: a warrior with that tragic moment in his past that makes him cut out relationship – until SHE shows up. As long as you aren’t looking for a new kind of man, he’s a good character. Realistic within his world.

The politics were a both a little heavy-handed in a few places and yet the wording itself was at times confusing (so wait, he cut the loyal females from the bridal competition?) I’m not quite sure because you are trying to be vague about WHO is the possible villain… By the time he narrowed down to ~5-6 contestants, there were really only about 2 possible ones.

That said, Smith threw a nice little twist towards the end I hadn’t expected – so total kudos for surprising me with an accomplice I didn’t anticipate!

As I said in the beginning, this wasn’t supposed to be a life-altering book. But it was fun and it kept me turning the pages. I thought Smith did some thing very well: consistency in her tone & language.  Especially when she uses her own personal measurement system for time and distance – this is no small thing.  I would have liked more depth on what various ranks meant: what is the difference between a Princep and a Rector? It wasn’t unbearable and it didn’t per say detract from the overall tone, but I love those details and wanted more.

If you want an easy, escapist read – this is a book I can recommend.  Beware, it is a PG-13/borderline R rating (imo) due to sexually explicit content & graphic violence. It isn’t the worst I’ve ever read of either concept, but it is not a children’s book (probably not really young-YA either – like college-age YA sure).

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