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The Emperor's Knife (Tower and Knife Trilogy #1)

3.31  ·  Rating Details ·  1,716 Ratings  ·  217 Reviews
There is a cancer at the heart of the mighty Cerani Empire: a plague that attacks young and old, rich and poor alike. Geometric patterns spread across the skin, until you die in agony, or become a Carrier, doing the bidding of an evil intelligence, the Pattern Master. Anyone showing the tell-tale marks is put to death; that is Emperor Beyon's law...but now the pattern is r
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published December 1st 2011 by Night Shade Books (first published October 27th 2011)
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Kat Kennedy
3.5 Stars

This ARC was provided to me by the publishers.

I picked this ARC because the cover kind of reminded me of Assassin's Creed.

Assassin's creed poster
It does. It totally, totally does.

Even the title is kind of the same. The Assassin's Creed, The Emperor's Knife...

So I kind of thought it would be similar in that there'd be an assassin and a couple of sidekicks on a sweeping adventure with a lot of violence.

Actually, it turns out there's a lot more sex. And romance. Then more sex. But mostly romance.

Doesn't Matter. Had sex.
Tuvaini's way
Althea Ann
Nov 23, 2013 Althea Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up without knowing that the author's name is a pseudonym, and his-or-her identity is still a mystery to the world at large. There are a few clues on the Internet - but I still don't know who this is.
I'd lean toward female - but I'd also recommend this to fans of Daniel Abraham. It's not actually a debut novel, apparently the author has been 'mainly writing' for 10 years.

It does come across as a practiced, expertly-written story. This is the kind of fantasy I like - set in a vivid, w
Matt Brady
Feb 28, 2013 Matt Brady rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2013, fantasy
This was a nice surprise, in some ways, and a bit of a drag in others. I’ve found that I’m a lot less tolerant of fantasy as I get older. I’ve lost my patience for it, and I’m often quicker to give up on a fantasy novel than I am with any other type of story. I feel like there’s a laziness in many fantasy novels, a kind of short-hand that authors will rely upon rather than doing the actual work. Too many well-worn tropes, bland characters, silly made-up names, generic stereotypes and lazy worldb ...more
Marc Aplin
Dec 17, 2011 Marc Aplin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never judge a book by it’s cover… that’s the rule, right? Kinda broke it on this occasion. Yes, I know, I am a respected(?) reviewer of Fantasy literature and shouldn’t let such things draw me any longer… but damned, this is a beautiful, beautiful book. Yes, there is that now very, very common hooded man on the cover, but also, there is a beautiful city in the distance and these two are washed over with a kind of midnight blue. Most impressively, there are some beautiful, almost tribal type patt ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
If there's one thing I can be certain of about my taste in books, it is that I can never resist a tale of dark fantasy -- especially one involving magic, assassins, and court politics. That Mazarkis Williams does it all in such a unique way is an extra added bonus.

It's going to be a little tough to describe this book without revealing too much, but here are the basics: across the Cerani Empire, a disease is spreading throughout the populace, manifesting as geometric forms and lines that spread a
Mark Lawrence
I don't review fellow newbie authors but I've taken to throwing in links to reviews I enjoyed:
Aug 15, 2011 Bastard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"Ambitious" is often the word I've seen used to describe Mazarkis Williams' debut novel, The Emperor's Knife . I find myself agreeing with that assessment. It's the first of The Tower and Knife Trilogy, which I recognize to be a fitting describer alluding to multiple aspects of what's found within the pages, and perhaps hints at what's to come.

The Cerani Empire faces its greatest threat, an epidemic spreading through the population that allows an unknown
Dec 07, 2012 Lucinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This remarkable, extraordinary fantastical masterpiece will have you glued to the page as you loose yourself within a magical world…

This has to be one of the best and most outstanding debut novels I have ever encountered, and which has totally blown me away hence I am finding it hard to express my feelings with just mere words. Mazarkis Williams is the most spectacular author whose accomplished writing style, combined with inspired creativity and flair is just exceptional and whose work has real
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

Mazarkis Williams tries for a lot with his fantasy debut, the tale of several key people within an ancient but decaying Empire here in The Emperor's Knife. With wildly differing, interesting characters and a shifting point of view between them, Williams certainly begins his story on solid ground - The Emperor's Knife feels new and created rather than rehash or a re-imagining of another, already established place. There might not be the most original
Ranting Dragon
Sep 17, 2011 Ranting Dragon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stephan

The Emperor’s Knife is Mazarkis Williams’ stunning debut and the first book in the Tower and Knife series. This stunning tale of magic and political scheming is published by new UK publisher Jo Fletcher in October and will be published in the US on December 1st by Night Shade Books.

Dying empire
A work of high fantasy in every way, The Emperor’s Knife takes us to the Cerani Empire—an empire that’s dying from the inside out. A disease, or perhaps an old magic
Oct 17, 2011 Katy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Katy by: Netgalley
Please note: I read and reviewed this book in December, 2011 from a copy I received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Just adding that disclosure and formatting.

My Synopsis: The Empire, with its capital in the city of Nooria, is the strongest power around. Beyon, the emperor, was brought to power one blood-soaked night when, after the death of his father, all his brothers were killed in order to prevent any problems with the dynasty. Well, all but one – Sarmin was kept alive, as a
I read The Emperors Knife when it first came out 6 years ago so I don’t remember all the little details but I do still remember the story line as a whole and can recall various parts of the book which it pretty good after all this time and says the story made an impact. The magic system was interesting and the characters were fascinating. I’ll have to read the 2nd book now, it release got lost in the land before decent Amazon tracking and before I used Goodreads.

One of the most important decisions an author has to make is how much to tell, how much to imply, and how much to show.  In fantasy this even more true in creating a secondary/alternate world.  For a debut fantasy author it's triply difficult, because no one (editor or consumer) is going to buy an 800 page book from a total unknown.  An author, looking through the world he's created and the plot he's weaving, has to start bailing water to offer a manuscrip
Nov 24, 2011 rameau rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Recommended for: Insomniacs. No, really.
Recommended to rameau by: NetGalley
The cover is pretty, isn't it. It makes you think of assassins who live in a mountain empire and in castles covered in mist. It makes you think about creeping in the night and on empty streets. It makes you think of all the things an assassin or an Emperor might use his power for. Oh, that's just me?

Let's look at the blurb instead.

It looks... lengthy. Just a tad too long to really read though before picking up the pretty cover and removing the money from your purse to the retailer's, to publis
Megan Rose
Mar 02, 2017 Megan Rose rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sounds-good, own
Good but a little confusing in places with information seemingly popping up from nowhere. However I'm interested in the story and I have the whole trilogy so I will be continuing soon.
Dec 07, 2011 AMythicalBeast rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: high fantasy, assassins, prince locked in a tower, magicians, mages, court politics
Recommended to AMythicalBeast by: netgalley
Shelves: reviewed-by-moi
3.9 stars.
The Emperor's Knife is a good book, but it is not a fantastic book. The best thing about this book is how it gives at least four very different characters enough time and sufficient voice to introduce and explain themselves to us. And you need to understand them if you hope to understand the book.
Its strongest point has to be the intricate court politics that keeps the reader on tenterhooks as a coup, many years in planning, is finally carried out.
The Emperor's Knife is Eyul, an assass
Jul 27, 2011 Mihir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Full review originally at Fantasy Book Critic

ANALYSIS: Mazarkis Williams’ The Emperor’s Knife is a debut book which has been under the radar for most fantasy readers. The book’s blurb details an empire which has been rotting and rests upon three individuals to stop the events, which might lead to its annihilation. Such a blurb wouldn’t necessarily give a clear picture of the actual book and it does seem to make the plot out to be very generic as well.

That’s the first mistake you make about t
Graham Austin-King
Nov 08, 2014 Graham Austin-King rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is not a simple story. That's not to say this isn't a good book, this is a great book, but it's a story that needs time and attention. Is it an easy read? No. It was clearly never intended to be an easy read. If you want an easy read then go and get The Belgariad by Eddings. If you want a multi-layered story with depth and complexity then this is the book for you.

There are three main stories which all intersect and come together beautifully in the end. The story of Eyul the assassin. Mesema
Apr 26, 2013 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ebook
More like 3.5 stars, but excellent world building and characterization. Her characters were so ambiguous and conflicted that the reader had a hard time following who was doing what because we were also being loading with what many characters thought other characters were doing, not to mention their motives. Having second sight doesn't necessarily allow you to correctly see the future, even when your visions are correct.

What pushed the rating higher for me is Williams' ability to effectively and
Dec 29, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
An awesome novel of sweeping scope. It's rich in history, politics and magic - all the things I love.

But best of all it felt like a fantasy novel - not a novel filled with contemporary sounding dialogue and set in a 'medieval' world with magic - but a like a novel by a writer who 'gets it' and knows how to use language.

My only gripe is that it wasn't long enough ;)
Milo (BOK)
I’ve wanted to pick this book up ever since I first saw the cover-art. I don’t know why, but I tend to like cover arts that fall into the ‘hooded man’ category. The Painted (Warded in the USA) Man by Peter V. Brett, The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller, Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure by Daniel Polansky and Assassin’s Creed 2 are examples of that, and it seems, for however long we’re around, there’ll always be at least one hooded man cover on a novel in the book ...more
Leontii  Cristea
Oct 25, 2011 Leontii Cristea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Emperor’s Knife, the first in a new trilogy (The Tower and the Knife), is Mazarkis Williams’ début novel—and one of the first offerings from brand new SFF imprint, Jo Fletcher Books (Quercus).

I recently interviewed Mazarkis (interview link to be added when it goes live over at Fantasy Faction), before I’d finished up with the book, and found him to be a great guy who told a great story. It may sound obvious, but sometimes in the modern market, writers are so bogged down with what they “shoul
Anne Lyle
May 30, 2012 Anne Lyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The Emperor’s Knife is one of a flush of Middle-Eastern-inspired fantasies that came out in 2011 – an encouraging trend, since that milieu has been sadly neglected in the genre despite being a rich source of myth and story formerly very popular in the West. The setting is a secondary world rather than the historical Middle East, but with its deserts, grand viziers and palace intrigue it manages to capture an Arabian Nights feel whilst allowing Williams a broader palette for storytelling.

The cent
Jan 12, 2012 Mia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Emperor's Knife is a story about the diseased Cerani Empire, suffering from a blight as well as from conspiracies at the highest levels.

An affliction plagues the lands. Marks appear on the skin of the afflicted and spread until the entire body shows the pattern. A mystery surrounds the pattern. No one knows its origin or how to prevent it. It is feared that it serves some sinister purpose, masterminded by a hidden architect with unrighteous designs for the empire. Great measures are taken to
Nov 23, 2012 Emmanuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A magic of Many.
A review of “The Emperor’s Knife” by Mazarkis Williams.

When discussing fantasy with a thorough reader it is hard to come up with an element or idea he has not already read in some other book. This is why, in general; the ability of writers to come up with innovative ways of delivering these ideas keeps marveling me. I’m not implying “The Emperor’s Knife” is not a thing of novelty. What I’m saying is that the struggle to protect the realm from the menace of a hidden enemy has been
A.E. Marling
If you love NK Jemisin's innovative prose, you may enjoy the way Mazarkis Williams paints with words. At times, the reader is given an impression of what is happening, a flavor, a flash of color, rather than told with commonplace sentences.

I think the cover of the Emperor's Knife might cause false expectations. Yes, the story includes an intriguing assassin who is servant to the empire, but he is but one of four viewpoint characters, who receive more or less equal time. The other is a prince hel
Lisa Bouchard
Oct 09, 2011 Lisa Bouchard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Emperor’s Knife, Book One of the Tower and Knife Trilogy, by Mazarkis Williams

4.8 out of 5 stars

Pros: multi-layered political intrigue, non-European style setting, strong women

Cons: not enough on the religion and magic systems

I read much more Science Fiction than Fantasy, but the gorgeous cover and inside flap description sucked me right into buying this book. I know, shame on me for judging a book by its cover but in this case I am glad I did.

The Cerani Empire is besieged by a plague which
I see the issue with my ranking system here. ‘The Emperor’s Knife’ is not a one star book. There is too much good in it. Highly ambitious, fairly unique, and with some fairly strong writing in the early going. But as loose as my ranking system is, a book I can’t finish is a one star affair, and for god’s sake this book bored me to tears. Not at first, I got to the half-way point with no problems. But from there I was doing anything BUT reading. I watched a few bad TV shows, played a lot of Candy ...more
Apr 16, 2013 Meera rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, unkown-sex
I was surprised by how good this book was! It's a little like "A Game of Thrones" with it's intricate court schemes, but with a lot more magic. I particularly like the pattern magic, but I hope the elemental side will be developed in the next book.

The characters were solid and well developed. There were a few plot points that didn't seem quite right, but considering this is Williams' debut novel it's not so surprising and I expect his/her writing will mature.

Although this is the first in the t
May 24, 2012 Christina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I also loved the language of this book. I read it on a cruise and it was the perfect book to either pick up and read a chapter or two when I had time, or just to sit down and get lost in its imagery.

The characters are great, though a bit confusing at times. This is because the focus shifts from one character to the next at a rapid pace. It kept me on my toes, though. With multiple story lines converging and weaving throughout the book, it was like getting lost in
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Apocalypse Whenever: Nook Free Friday: The Emperor's Knife 1 17 Apr 26, 2013 04:56AM  
suffers from cover-born expectations of assassin-packed action? 5 28 Jul 02, 2012 11:53AM  
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Mazarkis Williams is a writer with roots in both the US and the UK, having worked in and been educated in both countries. Each year is divided between Boston and Bristol and a teleport booth is always top of the Christmas wish-list.

Mazarkis has degrees in history and physics, and a diverse set of interests accumulated while mispending a hectic youth. Cooking has always been a passion, and in addit
More about Mazarkis Williams...

Other Books in the Series

Tower and Knife Trilogy (3 books)
  • Knife Sworn (Tower and Knife Trilogy, #2)
  • The Tower Broken (Tower and Knife Trilogy, #3)

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