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Those Below

(The Empty Throne #2)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  695 ratings  ·  68 reviews
For centuries humanity has served Those Above, god-like Eternals who rule from their cloud-capped mountain-city.

They built a civilization of unimagined beauty and unchecked viciousness.

They thought themselves invincible.

They were wrong.

The story that began in Those Above comes to an explosive conclusion in this unforgettable battle for the hearts and minds of the human r
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 10th 2016 by Hodder & Stoughton
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  695 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was right! It is a complete story! Well, it shouldn't be that surprising with names like Those Above and Those Below. :) And the blow-out? Lots of machinations, political intrigue from Eudokia (I absolutely love her), and WAR.

We knew it was coming. And it was very satisfying when it came. And the end? LOL. Not saying. But I was satisfied as hell.

Still, I was slightly off. It takes up 2 years after the first novel and things have been progressing and simmering. I suppose that's fine for the sa
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-copy

I have a fairly up-and-down relationship with Daniel Polansky’s work – I enjoy almost all of it, and for large portions of each (most, more accurately) of his books, I’ve experienced pure joy reading. However, as I’ve pointed out in numerous reviews of Daniel’s books, I’m consistently frustrated with his novels. His prose is, for the majority of the time, stellar – among my favorite of any author, an absolute pleasure to consume. I generally enjo
Christine Spoors
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
I really enjoyed this book and thought that it ended The Empty Throne duology very well, it tied up all of the loose ends. However, I did think that it ended very quickly and would have liked to have had more information about the ending for each character.

The plot throughout this book is full of twists and turns and is very clever. I was constantly being surprised by what happened. I really enjoyed that Polansky wasn't afraid to let awful things happen, which made the book much more thrilling t
Tracey the Lizard Queen
Originally reviewed here:

This is due back at the library today, I don't want to part with it.

Disclaimer: This is supposed to be a review, not quite. It's more like me processing a mega-whopper case of book blues.

I can count on one hand the books that broke me - I don't mean a little book hangover, I mean books that have made me question the point of life. Not my life in particular, existence in general. Us as a species. Why are we here? Why do we allow ea
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great finish. Polansky is up there with Joe Abercrombie on my all time favourites list.
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Powerful, dark and very grim.... Fabulous worldbuilding. 3.5 stars.

Darren Hagan
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
**4.75 stars**

I really enjoyed this sequel and conclusion to Those Above. I went into this duology with quite low expectations because of it not really being a hyped up book series, but I've loved it to be honest.

I wouldn't change anything that happened in the story, I just wanted there to be an epilogue.
Mark Medina
Dec 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A slow burner, very character driven, but that is no bad thing. I enjoyed it, with the focus on the characters relationships and motivations. Bas, the old conflicted soldier, was my favourite. I know some people will complain that not a lot actually happened, and it is not one for fans of constant action/fight scenes, although these are in there. The world building was quite good, but could have been made more of, and I would be interested in another book set in this world. This is a contrast to ...more
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Polansky easily lives up to the expectations that were created with the first book. This duology was really just one long book, and I thought it was excellent. Great, real characters, interesting world, satisfying ending. There isn't a lot of joy and happiness but who needs that when the story is this good? ...more
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wasn't as good as the 1st novel however, with Polansky dont expect a suspensful plot. Its all about the slow build and the characters. Great end to the duology. ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I finished the first book I was a little disappointed and I wrote that I would have read this final book in the Empty Throne series only because I had already bought it, but I was hoping to be surprised.
Actually I admit that this book was positive surprise.
Things start happening, we have some action and the plot is developed very cleverly.
Honestly I still couldn't feel anything for the main characters, and after 1 week I can't even remember the names.
However I really appreciated the themes
Definitely a favorite series! Dialog is great, situations are believable and the ending was very realistic, not a HEO type of story. I really enjoyed this read and will read more of Polansky's work! ...more
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was a satisfying and fitting conclusion to Daniel Polansky's Empty Throne duology. It confirmed Polansky as an author to watch in my opinion. This was an unusual fantasy story for a few reasons. It was slow paced, but always interesting and engaging. It lacked any characters that I could truly root for, but also made it impossible for me not to sympathize with each of the characters at various times throughout the story. The story was dark, brutal, and very cynical in tone, but at the same ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I wavered between two and three stars. For the most part, the episodic chapters seemed pointless, with little or no character development, and only two of the four main characters advancing the plot in any meaningful way, the other two merely paying witness with ends to match. The culmination of the story seemed equally pointless, war and annihilation for the sake of themselves with no hope or redemption for anyone. As a commentary on war it works; as a work of fiction it's a let-down. For the m ...more
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was on my list of to read for a long time. After the first one which was a very well written slow burning set-up novel I thought this would be an explosive conclusion. Unfortunately it was again a very slow burner and again nothing really happened until the last 30 pages or so. By the time the book came to life I didn't really care about the characters and unfortunately found it a bit predictable in the end.

It is very well written but could have been done better in one book and I just
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: providedbypub, 2016
Update: Full review can be found at Book Frivolity!

I want to swear.. Can I swear? Expletives seem to be the only response I have right now.. One thing I can formulate in my tiny mind, is that Polansky is one of the best fantasy writers of our time.. Even if you read it just for his style, his complete mastery of word play and vocabulary, pacing, manipulation of grammar to forward his intention.. Jeez *expletives*.. As the youths say 'I can't even..' Masterfully written, even though the storylin
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The Empty Throne has the same kind of brutality and introspective characterization that makes Polansky's Low Town trilogy so entertaining, but here with the claustrophic, noir intensity and intrigue traded for more epic scope, ambition, and possibly even originality - as much as anything in epic fantasy can be called original anymore. Not quite Joe Ambercrombie in its critique of the usual power fantasy tropes of the genre, not as literary at least, but possibly more fun, and still dominated by ...more
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great follow up to Those Above... Polansky is a master of prose. Full review to come.
Mar 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Definitely the most disappointing of Polansky's books so far. Very slow, and overly convoluted in some places, but the payout was definitely worth the struggle. Full review soon on ...more
Daniel Sim
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shane Duquette
Sep 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Lots of interesting things happen in this plot, and it carries the book fairly well—I was hooked—but boy are the characters themselves ever grey. Not just morally grey, either. Grey overall. It's like they all had their emotions deleted. With that said, Thistle had an interesting character arc, and I enjoyed his story. Calla's story was perhaps the most intriguing of all, especially since she served as a window into the lives of Those Above, and especially with how her story ended.

Some of the co
Ruth Harwood
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've had this in my tbr pile for quite a while (that pile consists of hundreds of books so that's not a bad thing!), but having felt a little 'should I read this? fifty pages in, no, I want something else! over and over, this seems to be the only book that could keep me reading to the end! I get that sometimes - where I start a book and change my mind, wanting a different genre/era/style, so it's no reflection on the books ending up partially read, it's just whim lol!
It took me a little while to
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Just. Wow.

I'm blown away by this book. The kind of fantasy that I haven't read in a long while. The whole sequence of events and final conclusion just one epic thought-provoking journey.

It's deep, soulfully deep, and forces you to think all the time about the human condition, events and how fate and life intertwines and in the end, what is it that we really live for? Is what drives us really all there is to life? Yet at the same time, it is full of action, and twists of plot that leave yo
Aug 15, 2019 rated it liked it
An okay finish to an okay series. The author manages to build up an interesting world in just two books, but the way this book ended makes me wonder a little, what was the point?

Everything happens almost exactly as you would imagine, and the story culminates with the defeat of the Eternal (or Those Above) at the hands of the humans they disdained. That's all fine and dandy, but I was much more interested to see how things would play out after their defeat. After all, there's a huge power vacuum
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good follow up to a great book. The main characters are back, still being fantastic, although as the focus is more on the humans than the Others, Calla and Aubade don't get as much page time or good storylines. However, Eudokia and Pyre get lots of both, and are excellent. All the characters are supremely competent and driven and it is a nice change from reluctant farmboy style characters. The ending is a little rushed, with the huge buildup popping quickly, and I've had preferred a longer versi ...more
Paul Allard
Nov 12, 2017 rated it liked it
The second and concluding part of this series deals with the continued political machinations of Eudokia and Pyre, resulting inevitably with bloody confrontation with Those Above. The characters are developed further and the second part of the book is full of double-crossings and betrayals. Some of the main characters die in the conflict, other survive. It's a bit reminiscent (100 years this week) of elements of the Russian Revolution (Lenin, Trotksy, the Romanovs).

It's not really clear till the
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great ending with one of my favorite death scenes in recent memory (two of them actually).

Pyre was drastically different in this book, which took some getting used to. Loved me some Thistle in Book 1, but alas, the boy is no more.

The duology format really worked and I hope to see more use of it in the future. The story was sharp, included just enough worldbuilding, there was no fluff.

Excellent books. Felt grounded for such relatively high stakes (revolution and overthrowing of an empire). Pol
Jasmine Rose
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
With what Polanksy does well in character writing and world building, he lacks in a gripping storyline. I really wanted to get into this book because I enjoy the writing style however the lack of story progression and a slow all rounder (even in the first book of the series) made it seem a chore to read. I ended up reading just to finish the book so it would stop taking up space in my backpack. Quite disappointed with how little the story made me want to carry on reading or root for any of the c ...more
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 23, 2020 marked it as to-read
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Daniel Polansky writes beautifully. The plot was simple enough to follow, and I was intrigued by the relationships formed and the way events ensued. The writing however stood out and because of that, it was able to bring this book to a very epic and bittersweet end. ...more
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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.

Other books in the series

The Empty Throne (2 books)
  • Those Above (The Empty Throne, #1)

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