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Those Above (The Empty Throne #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,147 Ratings  ·  161 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

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Mark Lawrence
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.

A wonderfully written book. Those focused on plot may enjoy it less than I did.

I didn't enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed the Low Town trilogy - but it's rather like my The Name of the Wind vs The Wise Man's Fear issues - just because one didn't do the same job for me as the other,
Bookdragon Sean
Feb 23, 2015 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
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've surprised myself by expecting less and receiving more from this book.

Honestly, I've read so many epic fantasies by this point that I either have to read something that is written extremely well or it comes with an extraordinary number of innovations, or both, before I get truly wowed.

I'm not quite there with this one, but after having read a good handful of Polansky's novels, I've gotten quite used to his style and know enough to be patient. It always pays off. Usually there's a lot of in-
Nov 20, 2014 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
Feb 18, 2015 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
Dec 08, 2014 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
Aaaaand yet another reread. When will I stop starting series to continue them over a year or more later. Now I have to refresh my memory; even though this isn't a forgettable book, and we had a rocky start, it was quite unique and wonderful. It grew on me.
Because Those Below is glaring at me from the shelf--a book that arrived in my mail about 9 months ago; a book I HAD TO HAVE NOW (sometimes I can be quite the Veruca Salt)--I'm going to finally see this duology to its end.

Don't disappoint me,
Nov 21, 2014 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
Nov 27, 2016 added it
Shelves: abandoned
DNF at 17%

Dark, cynical and going nowhere very slowly. Really not for me.
Griffin Vanderschaeghe
Mar 06, 2015 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
Alisha Tarran
Dec 13, 2014 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
Jan 09, 2015 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
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, fantasy
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
Jan 29, 2015 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
Judith Moore
Nov 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
Full review up on my blog:

I picked this book up at YALC because the cover looked aesthetically pleasing and the summary sounded like the kind of thing I enjoy reading – who doesn’t love a good revolution? In fact this summary is the best thing about the book. If the book was actually what this summary says it is I think I would have liked it a lot more.

Let’s start with length, this is a pretty standard c.400 page paperback, but the font is deceptively sma
Liz Barnsley
Nov 20, 2014 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 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 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 s ...more
Feb 01, 2015 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!
Feb 23, 2015 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.

Dec 22, 2014 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 nezanimlji ...more
ijeoma Agbaje
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This my first Daniel Polansky book and I really loved how he could describe the way the characters feel, you could feel Thistle's anger, Bas's apathy in the whole political scheming, Eudokia's scheming. You sort of feel you can understand them and what motivates them.

I have to say when I started this book I expected like loads of action, the physical kind but I did come to appreciate the intrigue, planning and just basically reading the foundation for all that's to come. And the characters, I h
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Another well-told tale from one of my favorite fantasy authors. I loved the world Polansky has created here, and it's populated with interesting and well-rounded characters. I've said it before in reviews of his work, but I'll say it again: Polansky's style just speaks to me. His books have an ease about them while still able to hit you with an emotional punch and great character development.

KC Alexander
Nov 21, 2014 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.
Antonio Diaz
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-owned
La duología The Empty Throne no es más que un único libro de 800 páginas partido en dos de 400. Habiendo leído tan sólo la primera parte, no sé si puedo valorarla suelta.

Es una obra grimdark muy correcta con, posiblemente, el personaje femenino más cabrón que he visto en una buena temporada.

Vamos a dejar el libro reposar en mi mente a ver si se me aclaran las ideas.
Cat Priestman
Nov 21, 2014 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.
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

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
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Daniel Polansky is the author of the Low Town trilogy, Empty Throne duology, the Hugo-nominated novella The Builders, and A City Dreaming. He can be found in Los Angeles, mostly.
More about Daniel Polansky

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“Every man and woman is distinct from every other. But every mob is the same mob, whether composed of mineworkers or monarchs.” 4 likes
“Bitterness avails no one.” 0 likes
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