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Empire of the East (Empire of the East #1-3)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  1,053 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
In the distant future, society has crumbled. Dark forces now rule the land, keeping all humans under their oppressive thumbs.
In the darkness of the shadows and whispered on the winds, there is talk of a rebellion. In the swamps, a small band has formed. Determined to regain their freedom, the rebellion, heavily outnumbered, plans to overthrow an army of thousands . . . wi
Paperback, 512 pages
Published November 1st 2003 by Tor Books (first published October 1st 1979)
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Dan Schwent
Jun 13, 2009 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The Broken Lands: Farm boy Rolf returns from the fields to find his parents slaughtered and his sister missing, taken by the forces of satrap Ekuman, an agent of The East. Rolf goes looking for Lisa, his missing sister, and winds up joining the resistance against the Empire of the East. Only the Elephant can stop Ekuman. But no one knows what an Elephant is...

First off, I like my fantasy to have the remnants of old technology lying around so Rolf's world is right up my alley. I'm really glad thi
A nicely written and amusing little trilogy. which could've easily been one more sword & sorcery story full of tropes and with thin characterisation, but that managed to be a good story thanks to Saberhagen's ability, and which had a great secondary character that steals the show from the more conventional protagonist. And what an ending!
Sep 04, 2011 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Empire of the East" is a solid series, and I enjoyed reading it. I'm giving it four stars because the final book ended with a scene that just floored me. After the swordplay, the magic, the questing, the intrigue, the demons and monsters, the heroes, and all of the other fantasy bits, Saberhagen reveals his full hand and fleshes out the premise that he had only hinted at. It is a wonderful premise--the kind that made me want to grab it and keep running with the ramifications. Without spoiling a ...more
Apr 12, 2012 Kristin rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Writing: 3
Story: 2
Satisfaction: 3

Probably somewhere between a 2 and a 3.

Saberhagen is a fantastic world-builder. The post-apocalyptic society that he's written is really interesting and the viewpoints of his characters as they discover bits of old technology is fantastic. The moment that I understood what was being described, the entire book changed.

Unfortunately the characters are flat tropes and the plot is pretty secondary to the environment.

Empire of the East is a compilation of 3 books a
Alan Zendell
Feb 25, 2015 Alan Zendell rated it really liked it
The late Fred Saberhagen sure knew how to write a good story! Written in the late 1970s in the interregnum between the dominance of sci-fi and the surge in fantasy readership in the fantasy and sci-fi genre, Empire of the East straddles the line between them in unique fashion. (My purist science fiction friends won't read it, because they deem it to be not sci-fi enough; ah well, their loss.)

I loved this book thirty-five years ago. I had to put it on my Kindle and see if it had aged better than
Sep 07, 2012 Joe rated it liked it
This book is a little dated, based on publishing standard that was popular several decades ago: serialized fantasy novels, each of which were modest in size, not the 90,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 page behomeths popularized by Robert Jordan.

This format had some good points and bad points and Empire of the East is a good example of both. Saberhagen is a solid writer who is particularly adept at portraying evil in a way that is not cartoonish. He also has an imaginative, if mainstream mind
Mike (the Paladin)
Interesting fantasy/science fiction take on a sort of "post-apocalyptic" evil empire world. Try it, while fantasy tends to have "archetypes" and they are here, this has another twist I haven't seen elsewhere.

This is probably my favorite work by the author. The Books of Swords builds on this books and the "universe" set up here. Unfortunately to say anything at all about the story will require a spoiler as it is pretty original. The book somewhat successfully straddles the fence or line between f
Traci Loudin
I seem to be striking out a lot this year. I'd heard Saberhagen is awesome, but since this was written over 35 years ago, the writing seems awful compared to contemporary writers. This is coming from someone who grew up reading Edgar Rice Burroughs and Andre Norton, so I'm definitely used to reading things written more than a few decades ago, and in ERB's case, about a century ago.

Here's an example:
He realized vaguely that he was standing in an attitude of thoughtfulness, though in fact his min
Jason Farley
Apr 30, 2008 Jason Farley rated it it was amazing
This was the first time in a long time that I finished a book and thought immediately that I would like to write the author with questions. It is perhaps one of the best books exploring the effect that idolatry has on the world that man has been placed in and has a distinctively Christian take. The third book in particular was superior to anything (accept Till We Have Faces, and That Hideous Strength) else that I have read on the topic.
Andrew Obrigewitsch
Aug 31, 2013 Andrew Obrigewitsch rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
This is one of those books I would have loved 10 years ago, but alas it just couldn't hold my interest with my more mature tastes. However it is not a Tolkien clone, but since it was written in the late 60's and early 70's it has been copied many times, including in the masters of the universe cartoons from the 80's to some degree.
W. Lawrence
Jun 29, 2015 W. Lawrence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To this day, one of the most creative books I've had a chance to read. The prequel to the Swords books, Saberhagen remains as one of my idols.
Jul 07, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book the second time I read it. I am much older now, so saw interesting things I didn't notice as a kid.
Nov 22, 2016 Richard rated it really liked it
It was an easy decision to give this book four stars. I enjoyed the overarching story, and the writing is was very fluid.
One additional bonus was the length of the book. It is not absurdly long, like other works of fantasy. Instead, it is relatively fast-paced and includes only the essential details.
Still, the book was not quite worthy of five stars in my opinion. My favorite stories are those which end with a lesson. Empire of the East didn't seem have that strong departing lesson. There were s
Dec 16, 2013 Kevin rated it liked it
(view spoiler)

Back in the day this might have been entertaining but with all the advances we had in fantasy and technology I'm just not feeling it, although I'm swaying a little towards book two.

It has improved over book one, I was going to rate thi
Sean Randall
Dec 27, 2010 Sean Randall rated it really liked it
"What powers of sorcery do you have here? What do battles mean, and warriors' lives, when dead men jump up grinning?"

This is quite an enjoyable fantasy with a mix of technology and magic. The magic is rather vague in parts but very clearly powerful, and the technology, though it's called "old", outdates anything of which we are capable at the moment.

"the backs of Western men bent hopelessly under the Eastern lash, their babies slain, their women and their lands despoiled. That is the future I se
Kevin Christensen
Jan 13, 2012 Kevin Christensen rated it it was amazing
After returning home from England in 1975, while living with two brothers and attending the University of Utah, as a change from reading nothing but scriptures, I read 300 science fiction novels. None of them affected me as much as the third volume of this series, then called Changling Earth. I'd never heard of the author, didn't like the cover, didn't get the blurb, but upon starting to read, felt as though the author had reached up through the pages, grabbed me by the throat and dragged me thr ...more
Nov 21, 2016 Howl rated it liked it
Shelves: own, sf, fantasy, paperback
I wasn't sure about this book when I started it, it's been in my collection for years and I had bounced off it at least once before.

I very much enjoyed the various portions of The Complete Book of Swords and the follow on volumes (The First Book of Lost Swords: Woundhealer's Story, etc) so I decided to give it another try.

Empire of the East provides the bridge from the modern day world to those books. Most of that bridging material is in the third book contained in this omnibus Ardneh's World bu
May 23, 2010 Gregory rated it liked it
Empire of the East is a great fast read. A fantasy story like Lord of the Rings, with the forces of good and evil battling, the story moves quickly with each chapter having a serial-like quality. The big difference would be Saberhagen's weaving in of "technology," which to the characters in this world, seems more like magic to them. It's fun to read about these warriors and wizards confronting the resurrected tools of the "past" which we realize are tanks or helicopters that have survived into t ...more
Jul 24, 2015 Anastasia rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 1940-1999
A solid read that isn't particularly special. Not that it's bad - just that although there are fun bits, on the whole it seems fairly pedestrian. I love the cross of sci-fi and fantasy, and while Mr Saberhagen blends them well, that's about the only high point of the series. Maybe it just hasn't aged well.

The setting starts out as a standard post-apocalyptic sort of world where everyone has reverted back to a Middle Ages-level of technology. The main protagonist, Rolf, finds his family ruthlessl
Frank Taranto
Aug 18, 2009 Frank Taranto rated it liked it
A far future mix of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The story centers around Rolf, a farm boy who has a knack for technology in a world without a lot of it.
The book has three parts, the first concerning the battle against the Satrap Ekumen and the search and use of The Elephant. The Elephant is a leftover piece of technology from the old days. We meet Lady Charmain (the Satrap's daughter) and her husband to be, Chup. They are two of the other major characters in the book. We also learn of Ardneh,
Aug 21, 2011 D-day rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East is composed of three novellas:
'The Broken Lands', 'The Black Mountains' and 'Changeling Earth' (ARDNEH's world' in my edition).
'The Broken Lands' starts off with young farmboy Rolf's family being killed by the Evil forces of the Empire, whereupon Rolf joins the Rebels to help defeat the Empire. To be fair this wasn't such a cliche way back in 1968. And although this is a fantasy story are hints that deep in the past there was a kind of special magic called t
Thomas Crown
Nov 26, 2012 Thomas Crown rated it it was amazing
This is a book I found profoundly painful when I tried reading it twenty years ago, immersed in the first of the Books of Swords. Having started again on a whim, I find that age, patience, and hiding in the pantry from my children while trying to read a book has added a certain soupcon of joy to the experience that was otherwise lacking, and I can now appreciate this work for what it is: a less involved, starker story than the Swords books, a tale that plays out in a microcosm against what are l ...more
Éric Kasprak
This is a prequel to the Swords series of books. It set up the world and setting nicely with an entertaining story of classic good vs evil. This being my fourth book by M. Saberhagen, I realize that what I like most about his books is the very simple but powerful sense of wonder evoke by them. There is no deep philosophical reflexions or dramatic human insight to be found here, and is is absolutely OK. What we get is a wide-eyed, 12 year old kid type of feeling that says: this is so cool! So if ...more
Charles Harrison
Jan 08, 2017 Charles Harrison rated it really liked it
This one has been on my shelf for a while as it was a somewhat intimidating tome. Lots of tropes to get you started, wizards, castles and an evil empire. Occasionally something jarring was dropped into the story (the elephant) but it is worth persevering. The final story line is very elegant. I also enjoyed the way the main characters were in places a little bit weak and ineffective, that element took it beyond the usual fantasy into something different. To be honest I think it is a little cleve ...more
Michael Garner
Mar 09, 2011 Michael Garner rated it liked it
Listened to the audio of this book. I was hooked instantly early in book 1, but by the time book 2 and book 3 rolled around, I lost interest and it was a struggle to finish. The idea of a future earth that lost much of today's current technological capabilities, that developed magic was a new idea, especially with relics of the past technological achivements thrown throughout the world. I found it hilarious how the rebels are looking for an "elephant" which turns out to be a nuclear powered tank ...more
Curby Graham
Jun 05, 2016 Curby Graham rated it it was amazing
I first read this back in the early 80s at the recommendation of my brother Kerry. I have re-read it several times and to my mind is one of the top 5 fantasy series ever written. It is actually a combination of science fiction and fantasy. The events take place 50,000 years in the future after a nuclear war. Magic has replaced technology and the reason this happens is what drives the story. Won't spoil it but it is a fantastic read. The Swords series is a continuation of this and also worth your ...more
Jul 23, 2014 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Listened to this as an audiobook. It was a good story and moved quickly. I saw a lot of similarities to the Wheel of Time books (this book was written long before those, however). This book had no where near the level of detail, especially in the magic system. You can tell that this book was written as 3 separate stories (originally published as separate novels). However, it does not detract from it. I'm looking forward to the Sword books that take place much later in the same universe as this b ...more
Vanessa-Lynn Wilkens
Jan 04, 2016 Vanessa-Lynn Wilkens rated it really liked it
Definitely an enjoyable read if you enjoy fantasy/science fiction. I was interested in all aspects of the story. I had a bit of a difficult time keeping track of the character's names, and if they were part of the East or West armies. I listened to the audiobook version of the books, and really enjoyed the narrator's voice. That definitely contributed to the reading experience. I'll probably read the fourth book in print.
Jan 05, 2011 Lindsay rated it really liked it
Took me a while to get into this, but when I did I couldn't put it down. My main qualm, however, is some of the confusion the book offered-- almost like it was an abridged version (but it wasn't). The author would be talking about something and I'd have no reference for it in the context of the book-- it was odd sometimes.
Sep 03, 2012 Yougo rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi
An interesting take on a world of magic and how it comes to being. The book started out I thought, rather slow but by the end I did find it hard to put down and was much more enthralled. I have enjoyed several of the author's other endeavors but found this to be one of my least favorite of his that I've read.
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How does the revised omnibus compare to the individual publications? 1 3 Aug 23, 2014 01:57PM  
  • Visual Guide to Castle Amber
  • The Lotus Caves
  • The Chronicles of Corum (Corum, #4-6)
  • The Gandalara Cycle I
  • The Swords of Lankhmar (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #5)
  • Ancient, My Enemy
  • Trullion: Alastor 2262
  • The Adolescence of P-1
  • The Paratwa (Paratwa Saga #3)
  • The Dome in the Forest (The Pelbar Cycle, #3)
  • Inferno (Inferno, #1)
  • The Sowers of the Thunder
  • Conan the Liberator (Book 14)
  • The Day After Judgment (After Such Knowledge, #3)
  • The Warlock in Spite of Himself (Warlock, #1)

Other Books in the Series

Empire of the East (4 books)
  • The Broken Lands (Empire of the East, #1)
  • The Black Mountains (Empire of the East, #2)
  • Ardneh's World (Empire of the East, #3)
  • Ardneh's Sword (Empire of the East, #4)

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