Sandra Glenn's Reviews > Empress

Empress by Karen Miller
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's review
Mar 04, 2012

liked it
I own a copy , read count: 1

I applaud Karen Miller for taking a risk in creating the character of Hekat. In theory, it's the kind of book I've been craving. However...

I really wanted to love Empress, but by the time I was 2/3 into it, I hated who the protagonist had become. I simply cannot enjoy a book unless I can identify with the main character at some level. I got within 50 pages of the book's end, and couldn't quite finish it.

Also, it was unclear to me whether Miller's imagined world actually contained magic, or the characters just believed it to be so. I don't mind that sort of ambiguity if it's handled well, but there were so many conflicting yes/no hints throughout that I grew weary of trying to decide.

Finally, I found Miller's use of a single descriptor "god-" as a tag for anything considered magical or divine rather tiresome. Godbells, Godsmite, Godthis, Godthat...I felt she hadn't really put sufficent thought into that part of her world.

However, your mileage may vary.

I should add that while I found G.R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books maddening because of their brutality, I also loved them because of the occasional sympathetic character (Tyrion!). Danaerys Targaryen, for example, is a lot like Hekat, and also does some terrible things, but I love her character because she isn't pure evil.

I can handle antiheroes, but they must have some spark of underlying humanity, and the world of Empress was just dark, dark, dark.

That said, Ms. Miller can definitely write, and while I might not have fully enjoyed the choices she made with her characters, I must give her credit for wisking me off to another world, though a world too brutal for me to feel at home in.
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