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Empire Ascendant (Worldbreaker Saga, #2)
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Empire Ascendant

(Worldbreaker Saga #2)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,345 ratings  ·  190 reviews
In this thrilling sequel to The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley transports us back to a land of blood mages, sentient plants, and warfare on a scale that spans worlds.

Every two thousand years, parallel dimensions collide on the world called Raisa, bringing a tide of death and destruction to all worlds but one. Multiple worlds battle their dopplegangers for dominance, and tho
Paperback, 507 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Angry Robot
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Lindsey Three, the Worldbreaker Saga is a trilogy. The third book, The Broken Heavens, is scheduled for release in Oct 2017.

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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Stefan Bach
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
What makes someone a villain?
Dark cloak? Ancient evil backing them up? Prophecy foretelling?
Senseless urge for power? Power to destroy the world and rule its ashes?
Oh, Sauron, you unaccomplished dimwit, go back to fifties where you belong.
And could you be so kind to find that (apparently not so) Great Other and drag him with you? Thanks. :D

So, what makes someone a villain?
Sometimes it’s not more than someone else’s distorted point of view.
Sometimes a villain can simply be a wife and a mother, de
Althea Ann
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
The sequel to 'The Mirror Empire.'
I found myself torn between saying, 'Don't read this one first; you'll just be confused' and saying, 'Go ahead and don't worry about the first one, you're going to be confused anyway.'

Don't get me wrong - I really, really like these books. But the scenarios Hurley gives us approach the complexity of the real world. The main world here is a big place, full of different countries, all of which have their own political situations and distinct, original cultures (no
The Mirror Empire was a mind-blowing a read. It was an utterly amazing work of epic fantasy in which Kameron Hurley put her own spin on the idea of parallel worlds in a post-apocalyptic sort of portal fantasy, all while turning gender roles and relationships on their head. With an unapologetic feminist foundation, it was the most brutally violent female-led fantasy I had ever encountered. It was ambitious, awesome, imaginative, and exhausting in equal measure . . . and I had serious concerns as ...more
Seth Dickinson
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I don't know if you've ever seen anyone spin plates. It's really hard. I tried it once, and believe me, I don't have any more plates.

THE MIRROR EMPIRE was Kameron Hurley getting the plates up to speed: three distinct major cultures, each with its own history, its own moment as the terror of the world, its own politics and schools of badassery, invaded by a parallel world, all beneath the rising red light of the death-moon Oma.

At the opening of EMPIRE ASCENDANT Kameron's mirror universe double w
Meagan ✊🏼 Blacklivesmatter ✊🏼Blacktranslivesmatter
Kameron Hurley is so underrated! This book was amazing!!!!!! 😜😜 I already preordered the third book immediately after reading book 1. Kameron Hurley is a master at creating unique worlds and exploring gender in a way that feels so genuine and natural in the world she created. I love so many of the characters and their character arcs and, oh boy, Hurley is NOT afraid to kill off those main characters lol. The "villain" in this series is amazingly done and so sympathetic. I can't wait for book 3 t ...more
Reread with SFFBC buddies (January 2020)
This book does not suffer from middle-book syndrome at all. Bring on The Broken Heavens!

First read (June 2016)
I can't get enough of Kameron Hurley. Plot, dialogue, character, WORLDBUILDING in her novels are so enthralling, fearless, no holds barred. Hers is the kind of writing that made me breathless and giddy when I turn the pages. I lose sleep over this series. And I truly hate the fact that the series is not finished yet, but relish on another fact tha
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Longer review in the morning when I'm done reeling from the death toll*.


One of those second-in-series that blows the first book (which I also loved) out of the water. I went back and edited Mirror Empire down to 4 stars, which is something I tend to do a lot (Ancillary Justice, Half a King, etc). Certainly not an indictment of "The Mirror Empire", but ME sets up, and "Empire Ascendant" DELIVERS. More world(s)-building, more points-of-view, more Tarantino-style action, m
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"War turns it's makers mad"
- Dhai Saying

When i find a book that's making waves, i like to look out for the author's previous works, to test the waters. It's obviously not a fail safe plan as the author could have improved but generally it helps to "know" the author.

That being said, Hurley's Worldbreaker saga series is criminally underrated. I think maybe because it's hard? for fantasy readers to step out the usual familiar tropes and embrace a book that basically throws all these tropes out th

Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An unapologetic and fearless story. I cannot wait for the next in the series. I struggled through the first half of the book because I couldn't remember a lot of the plot points and character names from the first (thank Oma for the glossary). I would advise readers to not wait long between each book. I will have to reread the first two before the third comes out, but I don't mind it. These books are a great bloody escape! ...more
B.R. Sanders
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
FTC disclosure: I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Notes on Diversity:
As with THE MIRROR EMPIRE, a huge and deliberate amount of diversity is on display in EMPIRE ASCENDANT. The second installment in the Worldbreaker Saga digs deeper into the explorations and subversions of power and marginalization that were introduced in the first book. For example, more is revealed, very deftly, about the way gender and sexuality function in Dhai Prime vs
Anthony Vicino
Nov 21, 2015 rated it liked it
A million characters, and not a single one to root for. Oof.
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: g-adult-fantasy, 2019
4.5 stars
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Unfortunately, I couldn't finish this book for a couple of reasons. First, my e-copy went dead on me just after I couldn't access it for download anymore. But before that happened I was already agonizing over whether I wanted to read the whole thing.

I read the first book in the series, "Mirror Empire", last year. It was a challenging book. This book drops you right back in the middle of the action with no recap, and I
Liviu Szoke
I think it is the most violent non-horror book I have ever read. There are so many atrocities, and genocides and crimes against entire worlds, destruction, invasions, slaughters, mainly made by warrior women, that made me often cringe. No, this is not a book for sensitive souls, it is way too violent. And if you really want to understand this fascinating world (because it is really, extremely, interesting and well made), you have first to read the glossary (you will find it at the end of the sec ...more
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Brutal.. off the hook.. and amazing. Hurley will soon be remembered as a great of the genre.
Bridget Mckinney
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
[This review is based on an advance copy of the book received through NetGalley.]

Empire Ascendant is a brutal read, which is somewhat to be expected from Kameron Hurley in general, and certainly to be expected in the follow-up to The Mirror Empire. The world of The Worldbreaker Saga is a harsh one, and this second book in the series turns the grimdark up to eleven.

Unfortunately, I’m just not loving this series the way I did Hurley’s God’s War trilogy.

Read the full review at SF Bluestocking.
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Empire Ascendant is the second in Kameron Hurley’s ‘Worldbreaker’ series. In quick summary, it’s great. It’s a book which wants to ask complicated questions. It’s a book which requires engagement, and rewards investment. It’s a book rife with raw emotion, much of it in some way traumatic, and all very genuine. It’s a book with some excellent battles, and a refusal to look away from the consequences of those conflicts, both at the political and personal levels. There’s personal drama, there’s spr ...more
4.5 stars

I asked for the blood to rain down...I definitely got my wish!

This is one of those books that tears your heart out, takes a big bite out of it, and then smushes it back into place and hopes you can recover. Gory image? Well, you'd better get used to it if you want to take on this series! I'm usually terrified of gore and avoid books that are really bloody because I can't stomach it, but there is just something about this series that keeps me fascinated and glued to the pages even when I
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was originally published at The Scrying Orb.

This is the second book in the Worldbreaker Saga. I reviewed part one, The Mirror Empire, last year. Reading my own review prior to starting part two turned out to be a boon. The world is complicated, the dramatis personae lengthy. According to my Kindle, the glossary at the end is 5% of the total mass of the book. Even after the refresher, I was a bit overwhelmed by the plethora of similar-sounding names for a good while.

The world is under assaul
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a really solid fantasy offering that actually improved in the series' sophomore effort. Unlike many books that come second in such a series, which are either bloated with filler intended to appease a publisher looking to maximize the number of volumes they can squeeze out of a series, this one actually tightened up the narrative rather than adding unnecessary tangents to it.

I liked the first book in the series very much but was a little worried about its lack of focus going forward. Th
Edward Rathke
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This book is a wild ride. I read an interview a long time ago where Kameron Hurley said that she initially planned this trilogy as a 15 book series, and I think that's evident especially in this second novel. It leads to both strengths and weaknesses.

The weaknesses are sort of the what-could-have-been variety, as certain chapters contain entire novels worth of potential material. By jamming it all into the book, it makes some of the relationships and character transitions and emotional moments w
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
The second book in the Worldbreakers Saga. I really am incapably of providing a summery for this but I really really enjoy these books. The worlds Hurley writes are like no others you will find in fantasy. They contain races and cultures with different ideas of gender, sexuality and identity. I love the world and the characters so much and they are what draws me through the books. Also, this book was brutal, like grim dark brutal which I wasn’t expecting.

I will say that I find the plot to be a
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2015
Kameron Hurley’s Mirror Empire blew me away last year and I was eagerly awaiting Empire Ascendant to see what happened next. I was not disappointed. Hurley manages to break her main characters worlds apart without flinching, never pulling her punches, but without making it feel as if she’s killing of characters for shock value. She makes the adversaries in the book if not sympathetic, at least understandable in their motivations, which makes everything even more complicated in the feelings d ...more
Danika at The Lesbrary
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Worldbreaker Saga is a brutal, brilliant series. It is emphatically queer: it examines gender and sexuality from multiple angles, polyamorous configurations of genders are the norm for relationships, there are multiple non-binary point of view characters, and the main character is attracted to women. It boasts a huge cast of point of view characters and an ever-expanding setting made up of distinct, detailed cultures. It is complex and ambitious, and it challenged me at every turn. This is g ...more
Feb 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Well, I don't know. While I loved the gender, sexuality, etc. issues that were just complete non-issues throughout this series, I just couldn't find it in me to finish it. I've been reading at a snail's pace (started in February! FEBRUARY!!) but just couldn't find the drive or interest to finish reading it, even after so long. A lot of people have mentioned (and quite rightly) the lack of characters to root for - I found myself disliking nearly everyone, and to be honest the plot was hellishly c ...more
Erik Anderson
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Between a 3 and a 4 on reread, so keeping my original rating.

The action definitely ramps up in Empire Ascendant and it feels more like a cohesive narrative. But especially the second time through, it feels like entire sections of the plot don't actually matter in any real way and the entire first two books are just character development for a story to come in book three. To be fair, the characters are interesting and certainly well developed.
May 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mild disappointment, but still a good read thanks to Hurley's imaginative worldbuilding and breakneck pacing. Some of the problems I had with The Mirror Empire, such as her over-enthusiasm for shock tactics and transgressive writing, are really starting to calcify in this sequel. I still have high hopes for book three. ...more
Adam Whitehead
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The kingdom of Dhai stands on the brink of disaster, threatened by a vast invading army from a mirror dimension which has already obliterated the powerful northern empire of Saiduan. Ahkio, the inexperienced Kai or spiritual ruler of Dhai, is forced to make unpalatable decisions to prepare his small, brave and peace-loving kingdom for war. The price for saving Dhai may be to sell out its soul. Meanwhile, the Empress of Dorinah sends her best general, Zezili, south into the kingdom of Tordin on a ...more
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Solid sequel to The Mirror Empire! This one pretty much jumps right in, with one thing happening after another. The writing is just as strong and concise as book 1. Even for a middle book, Hurley maintains the suspense and leaves a lot to look forward to in the final book. A lot of the world building happened in book 1, so there was less focus on the various cultures and the different countries and more focus on the action in this sequel. A few more characters get their own chapters, including t ...more
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Kameron Hurley is the author of The Light Brigade, The Stars are Legion and the essay collection The Geek Feminist Revolution, as well as the award-winning God’s War Trilogy and The Worldbreaker Saga. Hurley has won the Hugo Award, Locus Award, Kitschy Award, and Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer. She was also a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Nebula Award, and the Gemmell Morn ...more

Other books in the series

Worldbreaker Saga (3 books)
  • The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga, #1)
  • The Broken Heavens (Worldbreaker Saga, #3)

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