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Heart of Light (Magical British Empire, #1)
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Heart of Light (Magical British Empire #1)

3.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  150 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Set in a magical Victorian British Empire that never was, this unique fantasy blends adventure, intrigue, and romance, as a newlywed couple embark on a dangerous quest--and, in the process, discover their own heart's desires. On a luxury magic carpetship in 1889, an English couple travel to Cairo for their honeymoon. Except for a brush with a dragon, the voyage is uneventf ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 502 pages
Published February 26th 2008 by Bantam Dell (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 426)
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Jul 31, 2009 Angela rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I wanted to like this book. I really did. But I've got the same issue with it that I did with Jane Lindskold's The Buried Pyramid: i.e., loved the concept, but the execution? Not so much.

And as with The Buried Pyramid, what pulled me in was the idea of an alternate history settings where the British Empire was pretty much like we expect, only there's magic. And supernatural things. And lots of potential for the magic of Europe and the magic of Africa to clash and make things go very, very differ
Mar 28, 2008 Azar rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Patricia Wrede, Carole Stevemyer and Libba Bray
This is an enchanting alternate-historical fantasy, set in the Victorian era on an Earth where magic is an accepted fact of life and people cross the ocean not on ships but on magic carpets. Once I got past the opening scene (a wedding night't), I quickly got engrossed even though I anticipated pretty much all of the major twists.

It was a fun read, with only one real major drawback, but that because of a personal preference that not everyone will share--I have *major* issues wit
Aug 04, 2008 Cameron rated it it was ok
Snatching this story up after binging deleriously on Naomi Novik's superb series, I found myself taking three weeks to finally finish reading this start to a trilogy. The characters felt flat and unsympathetic - the kind of people that I would avoid engaging in discussion. The integration of magic into the world felt hinged upon one interesting idea but with no extrapolation or exploration.
Apr 20, 2008 Rowena rated it it was ok
Sarah Hoyt is like the Dan Brown of fantasy. She wove a pretty interesting plot but each chapter absolutely had to end on a cliff "Then there was a chilling scream" or "Then darkness closed in and they were alone in the desert." Ugh. Such un-subtle writing. But, it really was a pretty entertaining story although it certainly could have used more descriptions of Egypt. That and the over-emphasis on Victorian English values was a little odd..."he saw that she was entertaining a gentle ...more
Sep 02, 2008 MissM rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2008
Ugh. I just can't seem to get through this book. And I ALWAYS finish a book through to the end. But at 350-odd pages in, it's just so annoying. It's like bad High School with the mistaken ideas about people and the she loves him but he loves someone else junk.

Mr. thinks Mrs. is cheating. So Mr. starts fawning over an African woman. Said African woman is attracted to another African man. But the African man is drawn to the Mrs. The Mrs. thinks Mr. is cheating with the African woman and so
Oct 27, 2008 Ethan rated it it was ok
I quit half-way through this book, when it became clear that the author was going to milk the relationship tension between two of the main characters all the way through and that she felt no need to base that tension on anything other than their apparent inability to communicate with each other. I gave it the two stars for decent descriptive writing and world building.
Nov 07, 2010 Eric rated it it was ok
One of the most frustrating books I've read in a bit.

It's hard to review this when another reviewer (Angela Korra'ti) said exactly what I wanted to say, but I'll take a few minutes and try anyway. This book is not an alternate history or a fantasy or an adventure, at the end of the day it is 100% romance. I'd don't especially mind reading a book driven by romance considering one of the better books I read recently, Soulless, turned out to be a romance novel veiled as sci fi, and it was much more
Caroline Berg
Ugh, where to start with this book. In my humble opinion, it sucks. Yes, it is a regency romance of sorts – but the main married couple aren't all that interested in each other and are both highly annoying characters. (view spoiler)

But to continue on to other thin
Apr 05, 2008 Karina rated it liked it
The first half of this book was really different and engrossing, but it lost me about three quarters of the way in when the main characters found themselves trekking through the desserts of Africa. I did care enough to skim the rest, and probably will pick up the sequel anyhow.

In brief, this is an unusual romantic fantasy dealing with an alternate Regency era where there's magic, dragons, and the monarchs of Europe have the most magic due to a stone Charlemagne had stolen. The Queen wants its tw
Jan 31, 2015 Melody rated it liked it
After starting this book over a month ago I was so disenchanted with it I set it aside and read dozens of other books. I finally picked it up again today and skipped ahead to see if it was worth finishing. It turned out okay. Although the British "heroine" was silly and wishy washy about which guy to throw herself at at any given time. The love triangle was more of a pyramid. I had some sympathy for her troubles and she had some redeeming qualities. Still the African heroine was far more enjoyab ...more
Fantasy Literature
May 22, 2013 Fantasy Literature rated it liked it
Shelves: robert
Known for her diversity, the Portugal-born Sarah A. Hoyt has written dozens of short stories and several novels including the SHAKESPEAREAN FANTASIES series, the MUSKETEER MYSTERY books, and the SHIFTERS urban fantasy series. She has also written a historical romance under the pseudonym Laurien Gardner, a collaborative novel with SF author Eric Flint, and co-edits the forthcoming anthology Something Magic This Way Comes (below).

In Ms. Hoyt’s MAGICAL BRITISH EMPIRE series, which kicks off with He
Nichole  ~~The Grey Lady~~
Jan 01, 2015 Nichole ~~The Grey Lady~~ rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2011
When I saw that this was a Magical Victorian era novel and took place in Africa....I figured that this was right up my alley. I even enjoyed the writing first. However, this novel contains the biggest batch of whiny, annoying characters I have ever had the mispleasure to read about. I did finish it. And once having finished it, I did realize that the author was attempting to show the characters growth. I dont think that she quite achieved it though. Instead, the characters just seemed ...more
Jan 21, 2012 LemontreeLime rated it liked it
The idea of this alternate reality is good, the dialogue, characters, buildup excellent. But theres just something missing that i cant put my finger on. It feels as hollow and empty as the set of the Fantastiks, that all the players are cavorting on a thinly painted backdrop that keeps fading to 'theoretical white'. Maybe its just because its the first volume of a series, & hopefully book 2 will be better. (i also have to admit to being irritated with the romantic mishaps in the middle of th ...more
Brad Sheffield
Aug 03, 2015 Brad Sheffield rated it it was ok
Reading the relationships between the characters as satire didn't work to make this book better.
Jul 14, 2010 Kate rated it liked it
This was a fun read once it picked up, but it took a bit to get going. I rather liked the main characters more at the end than at the beginning, which is a good sign for character development. I'll be looking for the sequel.

Recommended for people who like Victoriana, and don't mind period characters having period attitudes towards things like race and gender (at least to start with). There is one fade-to-black sex scene, but otherwise there's nothing I wouldn't let a sensible 13+ year old read.
Cheryl a.k.a Poptart
This book was a wow book. I found it full of randomness and a bit patchy on characters. It seems like it should have been a larger volume because some of the plot seems rushed. I had to re-read a few sections due to the fact that the author seems to be building up to something and ends it in one sentence! I give it three stars because it definitely was inventive and was a fun read at times. I hope the next two books are better though.
Jul 10, 2013 VMom rated it liked it
I put this in "steampunk" though it's not really - it feels a bit steampunk.
I love the worldbuilding here. I find the main characters not likeable enough though - there's something lacking. I don't know if this was written as a romance; it seems marketed as one - but as a romance I was unconvinced by the "true love" proffered.
I am eager to read the sequel as the supporting characters were interesting and the story follows them.
Jan 18, 2011 Desiree rated it it was ok
Shelves: steampunk
This book was definitely a disappointment for me. I don't give it only 1 star because I think that at least it was well written and extremely readable as far as style is concerned. I wanted to really like it, Victorian age + magic + dragons, what's not to like...actually the book. It never really captured me and much as I dislike leaving a series unfinished, I very much doubt I'll ever buy the second installment.
Dawn Paris
May 15, 2013 Dawn Paris rated it liked it
A decent story - who wouldn't love flying carpetships? But sometimes the characters' internal conflicts seemed a little heavy and I found myself skipping--in most cases when Emily and Nigel kept reminding themselves of society's expectations of them. I think I will still read the next one, though, because the characters just might have freed themselves enough to really be interesting.
Laura Navarre
Feb 03, 2013 Laura Navarre rated it really liked it
Nice example of a Victorian-era, African-set paranormal historical romance. Heavy on the paranormal and lighter on the history, with a lot to explore regarding racism and colonialism in the late British Empire. A thoroughly enjoyable read filled with magic carpetships, Victorian drawing room manners, African safari and a nice romantic subplot. The sequel is Soul of Fire.
Dec 02, 2008 Sylene rated it liked it
Shape shifters in the time of Victorian England and India. The ending reminded me of the second Lara Croft movie....not a fabulous piece of fantasy, but decent.
Apr 13, 2013 Aira rated it did not like it
I hate romanticised adultery and this is what the book was
started of great and then disappointment, a shit load of misunderstandings, just no.
Aug 03, 2010 Shelel rated it it was amazing
Don't even know where to start with this ...simply wonderful. I love this author so far.
Aug 11, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
reminiscent of Gail Carriger but more serious. Looking forward to reading part 2.
Feb 11, 2010 Catherine rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I thought it had potential, but I lost interest about 1/2 way through.
Agnieszka Mauch
Sep 08, 2012 Agnieszka Mauch rated it did not like it
Shelves: fail, didn-t-finish
Dropped the book. Way too boring and pretentious.
Oct 12, 2008 Rebeccat rated it really liked it
I do like alternate magical universes!
Feb 24, 2009 Kristin rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
Read from 3/8 to 3/10.
Lynn Calvin
Amazon received
La'tarsha marked it as to-read
May 02, 2016
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Other Books in the Series

Magical British Empire (4 books)
  • Soul of Fire (Magical British Empire, #2)
  • Heart and Soul (Magical British Empire, #3)
  • A Touch of Night

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