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Those Above (The Empty Throne #1)

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  814 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
They enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword.

Twenty five years ago mankind mustered an army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtere
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published February 26th 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mark Lawrence
Jan 15, 2016 Mark Lawrence rated it it was amazing
Before I get into this I need to headline that Daniel Polansky is a brilliant writer who annoys me by writing stuff I know I would do a less good job on.

Those Above is a very good book that you should go out and buy.

I did for a while think I would give the book 4*, and then I thought maybe I wouldn't star it at all because doing so would be too difficult a job. In the end though it would be churlish to give so wonderfully written a book anything other than 5*, though readers concerned more singu
Bookworm Sean
Feb 13, 2016 Bookworm Sean rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, 2-star-reads
Those Above, by Daniel Polansky, is one of the most disappointing books I’ve ever read. Not just because it was poor but, because it could have so easily been something good. It has such a good write up that just doesn’t quite fit the novel; the cover art is fantastic but, the sword is so irrelevant; the writing itself is excellent, but the plot is not existent; the characters are well rounded but, just don’t go anywhere. A bit of a shame really: I was looking forward to this one!

The author spen
May 05, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing
They enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword.

Twenty five years ago mankind mustered an army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. Whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the hear
Dec 26, 2015 Gavin rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is a difficult book to rate and review. Mainly because I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it! I'm going to say I enjoyed the story, but did not particularly like any of the characters. This was not a light fantasy read and definitely qualifies for the grimdark subgenre!

It is even tough to describe the happenings as the full story was basically just following the build up to a full scale war between the two most powerful nations in the region. The dominant nation being Those Above from
Aug 01, 2015 Mark rated it liked it
Not as good as low town. Didnt care for the characters, baz the general may improve. Didnt seem much difference between the roost rulers and the rich humans with the power with the they play at politics and warmongering with the lives of those below them.

didnt have the great touch of gritty grimdark we loved in the low town book.

Two possible strong female characters who I hope do get more interesting.

will read the others as they come out.

not going to do a mass recommend. Will just say give it ag
Mar 18, 2015 Doug rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2015
Those Above kinda floored me, but not for the reasons you might expect.

I really didn’t get along with Daniel Polansky’s last series, the Low Town trilogy. I respected where he was going with it and the concept was interesting but ultimately it just wasn’t for me. It was grim, dark and cynical but all a bit introverted, focussing on a character that I just couldn’t connect with.

Well Those Above is the same. But also…different.

It is grim, dark and cynical with that same biting sense of humour and
Alisha Tarran
Dec 23, 2014 Alisha Tarran rated it really liked it
They enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword.

Twenty five years ago mankind mustered an army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. Whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the heart
May 23, 2015 Molly rated it liked it
Rating, mmmmmnhhm 3.5 ?

I expected to love this book, I did. Well, I loved the Low Town trilogy and maybe I expected too much (happens sometimes), but I don't think that was the problem.

I love Polansky's style of writing, but this book felt like an overly long prologue.... and it didn't help that I didn't care for either one of the main players in the story. The Others, or Those Above, with their supernatural-selves were possibly the less interesting (OK, the Aubade was promising), with Calla's
Griffin Vanderschaeghe
Jun 02, 2015 Griffin Vanderschaeghe rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Good things:
- Eloquent prose
- Interesting themes
- Strong worldbuilding

Less good thing:
- telling us things, not showing us
- three, consecutive chapters with people getting up and morning rituals: dull!
- 2 of the four pov-characters are cardboard thin: Bas is a general but apart from the battle at the beginning he barely does anything at all. The other, Calla, is a gateway POV for us to look upon the Eternal
(Godlike creatures) and barely has any scenes where she actually does anything herself.
- th
Mar 09, 2015 Mieneke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2015
Those Above had to have been one of my most anticipated reads for not just the first six months of 2015, but for the entire year. Daniel Polansky's previous trilogy, Low Town, was just amazingly good and its ending just floored me, and I mean flat-out, ugly-crying floored me. So to see where he would go next was very exciting. It also made it hard for Polansky to live up to my expectations, because the bar was set high. But he delivered the goods and he did so in style. Those Above was amazing.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, Hodder and Stoughton, in exchange for an honest review. Also posted on my blog, Rinn Reads.

You know the feeling of excitement when you get a brand, shiny new book – the cover is gorgeous, the plot sounds perfect, and you can’t WAIT to read it. Then you have to wait a little while to fit it into your reading schedule, but you know it will be worth the wait. And then you finally, finally get to read it.

And it breaks your heart just a litt
Liz Barnsley
Jan 17, 2015 Liz Barnsley rated it really liked it
Oh I loved this one! To be honest I wasnt sure that Daniel Polansky could top the wonder that was the “Low Town” series but if anything this is even better in a lot of ways- great world building, a huge amount of depth to the characters and a real page turner.

There is a lot of character building and scene setting in the early chapters which can be a tad confusing at first, but it comes into focus quick smart and from then on in is a rollicking read, a huge amount of fun, with a dark side that re
Jan 21, 2016 Shaheen rated it really liked it
Shelves: year-2015, hachetteau
Firstly, isn't that cover gorgeous? It's what drew me to Those Above in the first place, that beautiful cover with a giant sword that screamed Read Me. And I was further enthralled when I read the synopsis. A human uprising against the Gods? Sign me up.

Those Above, Polansky's first venture into epic fantasy, is the thrilling beginning to a story I cannot wait to explore further. Set in a brilliantly realised world and populated with characters one cannot help but love, it will capture the imagin
Laura Hughes
Jan 18, 2015 Laura Hughes rated it really liked it
Those Above is the first instalment of Daniel Polansky’s new epic fantasy series The Empty Throne. Set in a world dominated by ‘Those Above’ – immortal four-fingered beings who are mentally and physically superior to the human race – the story introduces those who live beneath their eternal overlords in varying states of both poverty and privilege. Although somewhat slow to get going, Those Above does an admirable job of establishing both world and character, and of artfully weaving together a ...more
May 05, 2015 Ojo rated it did not like it
Shelves: left-halfway

When a book has such a nice cover, you can't help but think the contents will be nice as well. But when you discover that the niceness does not extend past the cover, it makes you wanna chuck the book out the nearest window (provided its not in ebook format).
The plot building is worse than poor. The plot has no heading, no aim. Halfway with the book and I still don't know what im reading about. No organization!
Kristy (Book Frivolity)
Mar 18, 2016 Kristy (Book Frivolity) rated it it was amazing
Just as good the second time around.. But then, I suppose if Polansky wrote about cat food rotting under the sweltering summer sun, as it gathered maggoty blow flys for 500 pages, in the same style as 'Those Above'... I'd still want to roll around in its wordery like others want to roll around in piles of cash.. Nothing but admiration for his skills!
Sensational beginning to a new epic fantasy series set in a world populated by warring humans and godlike beings who live high on the First Rung of the extraordinary city of Roost. Fantastic worldbuilding.

Full review:
Mar 11, 2015 Ivan rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Those Above je roman koji sam u ovogodišnjoj produkciji najviše iščekivao. Međutim, u prvih 15% blago razočarava. Polanski je svoju trilogiju Low Town pisao iz prvog lica, duboko intimno i bravurozno. Those Above, pisan kao "klasični" high fantasy roman čita se više kao suvoparni infodump i uvod u atlas fantazijskog sveta nego kao išta očekivano od Polanskog. Razmere njegovog sveta svakako jesu epske, ali njegovi likovi - kojih upoznajemo nekoliko, svakog u svom PoV poglavlju - deluju ...more
Apr 30, 2015 Joel rated it really liked it
Shelves: hard-copy
I continue to find myself in the midst of a love/hate relationship with one Daniel Polansky. I don't have a problem with him, but my beef is that it just feels like he can't quite live up to his own potential. All three of the books in his first trilogy had long stretches of absolute brilliance, things that made me so damn happy to read. His prose is spectacular, his dialogue is witty and engaging, and his level of snarkiness and wit are through the roof. However, there seems to always be a lack ...more
KC Alexander
Mar 24, 2015 KC Alexander rated it it was amazing
Finished thislast night. Holding off on reviewing in full until I can read back through it. However, my first notes include beautifully written with a diverse and engaging worldbuilding. He plays to his own strengths and doesn't get bogged down forcing scenes onto the reader that would hurt his story. I almost leave this at 4* but realize that this is only the appetizer with a full entree to follow, and my appetite is sufficiently whet.
Cat Priestman
Feb 26, 2015 Cat Priestman rated it really liked it
It took me a long time to get into this one. I was about half way through the book before it sucked me in. There is a lot of character development which should provide a fantastic set up for the following book and the concept is really good.
originally posted at:

In 2011, Daniel Polansky took the fantasy world by storm with his Low Town/Straight Razor Cure debut. This first installment in the Low Town series was a downright dark-gritty-noir themed fantasy book, part crime part detective but all taking place in a less then pretty world. I read all of his book in the Low Town series and they just kept on getting better, Tomorrow the Killing and She Who Waits were pitch perfect sequels. I do have
Thea Wilson
May 28, 2015 Thea Wilson rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-review
My Thoughts On The Book:

This was quite a tough and slow read for me but don't get me wrong, it is an amazing read! I just found I had to concentrate extra hard on it for some reason, maybe it's because I haven't been sleeping well I don't know but it took my brain longer than usual to take it all in.

The Plot Of The Story:
This isn't you standard fantasy book by any means and it's not grimdark either, although it could be easily. This is more of a political thriller of sorts set in a fantastical
Blodeuedd Finland
This was so dull. One of the early chapters was about a woman getting up, bathing, getting her hair done, getting dressed, and I was all come on!

They were all dull

Jan 12, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
There's always a problem when you start a book that is already planned to be the start of a series of an indeterminate number. As the blurb on the jacket likened it to 'Game of Thrones' (which seems to be going on forever) there's doubt if we will be able to judge the complete story for some years to come.

What that means is a lot of scene-setting, character introduction at the beginning and it takes some time before any of it starts to fit together. And, I must admit, during the first few chapte
Nicole Sweeney
Apr 01, 2015 Nicole Sweeney rated it really liked it
This review and many more over at The Bibliophile Chronicles!

Prepare yourself to be blown away by Those Above.

Thousands of years ago humanity became enslaved to the Eternal. Four fingered instead of five, this species are strong, powerful and deadly. Humanity toils under their will and strength.

Twenty five years ago, humanity took a stand against those above. Revolting against their oppressors. In a bloody battle humans were slaughtered, and they like their hope, were destroyed. That was in the
Dec 31, 2015 Claire rated it liked it
Imagine an alien race who are more beautiful and longer lived than humanity. Imagine their despotic, exploitative and decadent rule. Now picture a group who rise up against them, brilliantly portrayed characters of all moral shades, including a woman whose awesome strength is limited by her damaged childhood, and a man who seizes his moment to rule in their stead. Sounds good? Well that's the Saga of Pliocene Exiles, by Julian May, one of my all time favourite series and unfairly forgotten. This ...more
Marc Jones
Jul 20, 2016 Marc Jones rated it it was ok
Shelves: grim-dark, fantasy
I finished this book a day ago I decided to give myself 24 hours to actually decide how I felt about this book and to be honest I am still not sure.
Whilst "Those above" contains some excellent world building and at its core presents an interesting story its held back by one of the most boring group of POVS in creation who are all introduced in the same manner, waking up, telling us their daily morning rituals and having a internal monologue about there place in the world and their thoughts on it
Jan 22, 2015 Judy rated it it was amazing
A Book Review of Those Above
By Daniel Polansky
I received a copy of this book as a giveaway from Goodreads. It is the first book in a new fantasy series which begins with Humans being totally dominated and ruled by the Others, a species that is very different from humans. Introducing creatures and an environment which are totally different from what we know and are used to can be very difficult, but Daniel has the ability to bring both the creatures and the environment to life in such a way tha
Samantha Kilford
Feb 14, 2015 Samantha Kilford rated it liked it
Shelves: books-sent-to-me
Read this on my blog on Feb 25th!

I received this in the post and I can't tell you how excited I was to get stuck into this. I'm so pleased that I wasn't disappointed overall.

The writing is magnificent. The descriptions and the world building are so vividly detailed that it isn't hard to visual that you are actually there.

What surprised me was that there was a lot of different viewpoints. This was great as it really allowed you to see both perspectives of the war between Those Above and the Aeler
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Daniel Polansky is the author of the Low Town trilogy, the forthcoming Empty Throne duology, the Hugo-nominated novella The Builders, and the forthcoming A City Dreaming. He can be found in Brooklyn, when he isn't somewhere else.
More about Daniel Polansky...

Other Books in the Series

The Empty Throne (2 books)
  • Those Below (The Empty Throne #2)

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