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The Obsidian Heart

(Echoes of Empire #2)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  555 ratings  ·  62 reviews
A plot to overthrow the Shrīanese Federation has been quashed, but the bloody rebellion is far from over...and the struggle to survive is just beginning.

Warrior-mage Indris grows weary in his failed attempts to thwart the political machinations of Corajidin, and faces the possibility of imprisonment upon his return to his homeland. Moreover, Indris’s desire for Corajidin’s
Paperback, 438 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by 47North
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017

"The events of our lives often open our eyes to the unknown. To be alive is to awaken to a new world each day."

Such new, wonderful worlds to explore are offered to me in the pages of my epic fantasy series. Mark T Barnes is excellent, as in the first episode of the series, in his worldbuilding, adding in this second episode new layers of geography, history, people, culture to the already big canvas of his Shrian Empire. Familiar characters make the lecture easier to follow around than in
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

The Obsidian Heart is a prime example of a second book in a series that actually works. Here Mark T. Barnes has taken all the amazing world-building from The Garden of Stones, added to it a story that immediately sucks you into that mesmerizing world and then mercilessly hauls you along for an amazing ride with both its heroes and villains. Well written and conceived, this second act of the Echoes of Empire saga is quite simply a wonderful piece of fant
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.
David Sven
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book continues shortly after the events of The Garden of Stones.

I won't repeat most of what I have already said about the world building and magic system so if you haven't started this series I'll link to that review here.

This book, the tension between the Atreides House of Nasarat and the Harkonnens House of Erebus really heats up. Baron Harkonnen Corajidin and his plans to become Emperor of Shrian may have taken a pounding, but it turns out it was merely a temporary setback. This book the
Katie Burton
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was so excited when I got my hands on this that I opened it on the train home, and didn't stop reading. The cliff-hanger at the end of The Garden of Stones, as well as the intricate beauty of the world, the compelling characters, and the intricate story, had left me wanting more for months.

And Barnes didn't disappoint. The Obsidian Heart is a better, a different, book than his debut novel, which I loved. While we still have the amazing, unique, and rich world Barnes has created--unlike anythi
Scott  Hitchcock
Book 1: 3*
Book 2: 3.25*

A worthy book two. I still feel the author could do a better job of giving context to different people, places and groups vs just throwing mythical names at them. But it's hard not to like the two main protagonists who drive the story.
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great pace and picks up right where the first book in the series ended.
Still has some of those inanely naive or artificially atrocious scenes that are just unnecessary and in fact take away from an otherwise superb story telling.
Got the third book in the series immediately after finishing this one.
Caleb Hill
Aug 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“The gift of intellect is not knowing what questions to ask, rather questioning what you are taught.”

It has taken me a while, but I’ve come to the conclusion that The Garden of Stones was my most underrated novel of 2013. Don’t worry, though; Mark T Barnes’s second rings true. Not only is it a big improvement on the first, it manages to surpass most novels I’ve read this year. All from a seemingly unknown author.

Pair him and Andrez Bergen up, and you have a team of undiscovered talent.

But that’
David Pomerico
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my books at 47North. Biased, but love it. Second book in the Echoes of Empire trilogy, and it has only increased my love for this world. I said it in my GARDEN OF STONES review, and I'll say it again: Mark is a talent that needs to be read by anyone who loves Steven Erickson, R. Scott Bakker, Joe Abercrombie, Peter Brett, and Brandon Sanderson. Like I said, I'm biased, but I fully stand behind those comparisons. ...more
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
*I received this book via NetGalley*

Review also on

The second book in 'Echoes of Empire' series picks right where the first one ends. I loved 'The Garden of Stones' and I'm thinking this installment is even better. The action, the characters, the plot twists and turns kept me captivated through the entire novel. I wish it could come out in Poland too, so I could make my family and friends read it too. Mark T. Barnes deserves more recognition definitely!
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
As some of you may have noticed, I read a lot. Luckily most of the books I pick up I enjoy. If I’m not enjoying them I put them down very quickly. There are too many books waiting to be read to waste time on those that just don’t ‘do it’ for you.

Within a page of starting Gardens of Stone (Book One in the Echoes of Empire series) I knew that I was going to enjoy Mark Barnes work, I even had a sneaking suspicion that he’d push his way into the upper echelons of those authors I rate as amazing.

He d
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing

In my review for Garden of Stones I wrote that I couldn't wait for the sequel and I was right. Book 2, Obsidian Heart, is even better than I'd hoped for, which is often not the case for middle books.

Obsidian Heart rips along with conflicts, hard decisions, and battles. In it the political intrigues established in Garden of Stones (don't you just love those titles? I do) reach multiple crisis points forcing the major characters to go one way or another, and make some really tough choices. The he
Kasey Cocoa
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-requested
With the world building out of the way, Barnes gets right into the plot with well developed characters and beautiful descriptions of the world around them. This second book is enjoyable to read and very well written. A free copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest unbiased review. Read more reviews, author interviews and enter giveaways on my blog. ...more
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As the first installment Mr Barnes gives us a world with Byzantine schemes and fierce action. In my opinion one of the most promising Fantasy author of the new generation.

That said, I´m favoring the first book regarding plot progression. I still gave 5 stars though so dont let that put you down.

Eagerly awaiting No.3 in the series.
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! I loved the world that was created and all the characters, so much depth and detail and still able to tell an awesome story. Can't wait for the next one to come out! ...more
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

Just as with The Garden of Stones, the first book in the Echoes of Empire series, The Obsidian Heart left me with a terrible “book hangover”. When I turned the last page, I was just not ready to step away from this world. While it’s definitely not a place I’d want to live (at least at this moment in the story!) Shrian is certainly a place filled with compelling stories.

Even though The Obsidian Heart begins with a recap of previous events from the first book
Blodeuedd Finland
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I am a bit torn when it comes to this review. I struggled with the book, it did not keep my attention. For that it was only ok. BUT the world building is just so rich. Mythology, politics, culture, fighting, everything is just so interesting. I do love the world. The story stagnated though.

Idris is still being good. Mari is still thinking her dad is bad, but nothing doing anything more. Corajidin is still being bad and wanting to take over everything. The leaders are still being idiots and shoul
Emily Morris
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the first book of the series "The Garden of Stones", though admittedly found it too heavy on the world-building. But I suppose now that is out of the way, Mr. Barnes is able to start focusing less on his world and its citizens and more on what is shaping up to be one entertaining story for the right audience.

Though Echoes of Empire has its share of fine characters, this is more about the fantasy and the politics than anything else. While I fear those looking for quirky and memorable c
 Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri
Last week I reviewed the first in the excellent ECHOES OF EMPIRE series, THE GARDEN OF STONES (http://archiestandwoodsreviewsandwrit...) and mentioned that I had been "away" from the Fantasy genre for quite some time. I don't think such a hiatus will happen again, as long as authors like Mark T. Barnes continue to publish.

THE OBSIDIAN HEART is the second of the ECHOES OF EMPIRE series (Book 3 releases tomorrow, May 20, and my review will be posted then), but the author takes sufficient care that
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed Book 2 in this series more than the first book. "The Garden of Stones" was heavy in world building where Book 2 is full of plot and intrigue.

If you are looking for quirky and memorable this is not the book for you as this is an author who likes to use words. It is this authors wordiness in Book 1 that made it hard for me to become involved in the story. Book 2 is less wordy a
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picks up where the last one left off and is even better.

Where I couldn't quite "feel" the age of the world in the last one, it seemed more natural in this one.

It's interesting to watch the characters evolve as well, while I don't always agree with the choices characters make given their motivations, I do understand them, which is a difficult challenge. Barnes also manages a surprisingly large cast of characters without leaving the reader feeling that they're all cutouts.

I will definitely be c
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good but.....

when creating a new world with new political systems and theologies there is a fine line between being detailed and being difficult. I think a lot of the difficulty in keeping all of the people, their families, political alliances,and histories in these books comes from the authors choice of vernacular similar to that of the middle east. With the help of the list of characters and using Amazon's X-Ray feature though these books are totally worth reading though. especially so if you
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgallery-arc
I received an ARC from publisher via Net-Gallery.This second book is an improvement over the first.I found myself reading a bit more than the first.The first book had a lot more information for me to process.I also felt I began to understand and like the characters a bit more.Thanks again to the publisher for letting me review it.
John Maguire
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very enjoyable read. While I loved the world that Barnes created in his debut, the follow up is more visceral than its predecessor. Barnes continues to follow through on the promise he showed in Garden of Stones.
I am looking forward to the conclusion.
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this. It took the stories in the first book, The Garden of Stones, and built on them. I have preordered the third book because I need to know how it all ends for the characters that I have become invested in.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I will gladly rate a series high if it sucks me into the story so deeply I have trouble putting the book down. This is one of those.

The "bad guy" is particularly well done. His inner dialogue is one of ever increasing justification for immoral acts. Driven first by illness and his need to live, then by the desire to impose his nationalist values on all his species. Finally; having made a deal with dark, evil gods to live and rule, he is allowing depraved, blood cults and monsters to act to achie
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In ‘The Obsidian Heart’ Barnes shows a quite considerable improvement from his debut novel as in this one he focuses more on the characters, and less on the world-building; but also bringing and a much stronger, and entertaining, story with lots of action, more twists and even more unique ideas.

‘‘If a happy ending is what you’re after, stop the story where it makes you smile, or cry for laughter. In life, it’s the rare sweetness to have tears of joy, or painless endings. People feel. It’s
Antonio Urias
Jun 09, 2014 rated it liked it
This review and others are available on my blog.

The Obsidian Heart continues Mark T. Barnes' Echoes of Empire series where the first novel left off. The dangerous Corajidin has seemingly been defeated and put on trial but instead he seizes the moment to put all of his ambitions into action and the result is a novel with all the twists and intrigue and battles of the first.

As a sequel, Barnes takes advantage of the fact that his core cast of characters and their relationships have been firmly es
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Second Classic in the Trilogy!

Starting with The Garden of Stones, and moving on to The Obsidian Heart, Mr. Barnes has written two novels that in my opinion are bound to be Epic Fantasy classics like Dune.

This second book is nicely done, leveraging a lot from the set up from Book 1, it does not suffer from sophomoric syndrome, but charges ahead with the story of evil conquering good. It then illustrates through action that when you get what you want, it is often not like you thought. The result i
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Barnes ups the tempo in this, the second book of the Echoes of Empire series. While I gave Garden of Stones 4 stars, Obsidian Heart is even more deserving of this rating. (Still, I have to keep the 5-star ace up my sleeve for the final installment.)

The pacing is more even in Obsidian Heart and the stakes are steadily escalating throughout the novel. The Federationists and Imperialists land some telling blows, but it's the battle between the Seq and the witches that is really arresting. Still, on
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Mark Barnes was born in Sydney, Australia, in September of 1966. A strong athlete, he was also drawn to the arts at a young age, penning his first short story as a seven-year-old. He worked in finance and advertising before establishing himself in IT services management. Currently he owns and operates a freelance organizational change consultancy.

In 2005, when Mark was selected to attend the Clar

Other books in the series

Echoes of Empire (3 books)
  • The Garden of Stones (Echoes of Empire, #1)
  • The Pillars of Sand (Echoes of Empire, #3)

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