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A War in Crimson Embers

(The Crimson Empire #3)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  446 ratings  ·  51 reviews
The final book in the Crimson Empire trilogy, a game-changing fantasy epic featuring an unforgettable warrior.

Former warrior queen and now pariah, Cold Zosia wakes in the ashes of a burning city. Her vengeance has brought her to this - her heroic reputation in tatters, her allies scattered far and wide, and her world on the cusp of ruin.

General Ji-Hyeon has vanished into t
Kindle Edition, 592 pages
Published December 5th 2017 by Orbit
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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  446 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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I want to write a proper review eventually but for now I just want to say this series is the best "casual inclusion" of lgbt characters and women in a fantasy I've seen in any sort of media and might have skewed my standards now
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
The series started off with a lot of fan-fare and hyped reviews back then. It was too tempting for me to resist so i got into it. As the follow-up books came out, i noticed a significant decrease in interest though, probably why i found out way too late that the final book was already out. I remember being so pumped getting into it, enjoying the differentness and the humour quite a bit in book one although the book didn't really commit to the one thing that had actually made me pick it up; Zosi ...more
Keith Pishnery
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Definitely not as good as book 1 or 2. 1 remains a favorite, and 2 has some of the craziest moments, but, it meandered for quite awhile, got very big and climactic, then had quite an unexpected ending. Overall, I really enjoyed the trilogy, but felt most of book 3 was lacking the focus and plot the first 2 had.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook, fantasy, weird
As a finale, this had everything I wanted: an inventive and brutal monster army; long journeys in a time-dilated Dreamlands; friends and lovers reunited; fate of the world resolved in a non-traditional genre ending; interesting backstory elements revealed; etc. The problem is that almost none of worked for me. I'm not sure if it's really all that different from the previous books, but the narrative voice and pace stood out in a bad way where I'd enjoyed them before.

Ultimately, it feels like two
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love all of these characters and this was a good end to a long tale. I especially love that the author took the time to let us know what the characters did AFTER the plot ending. I’m so happy I randomly started reading book one a few years ago. It’s been one of those recent SF and Fantasy books full of queerness - so good to read.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
A satisfying conclusion to one of my favorite modern fantasy series. Hoartrap the Touch is definitely my favorite "evil sorcerer" in fantasy - he's sinister, sure, but also a wisecracking, arrogant jerk and a lot of fun.
Brandon Forsyth
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally finished this series, and I’m so glad I did. Sure, they’re long and a little dense (and there’s scenes where wizards eat bats), but there’s so much good here that it’s well worth the time involved. Others have called out what a fantastic job this series does of pansexual representation, and it honestly feels like a breath of fresh air (and a path forward) in high fantasy. Then there’s the humour: unrelenting sass and genuinely character-based, a vein which runs through all three books ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Decent conclusion buried, as usual, in heaping helpings of excess verbiage. As before, I found the best way to read this was to focus on the dialog and just skim quickly over the rest. And even if the tale weren't so well cast and rousingly gross and funny, along with creatures like "cobraroaches" and "dire pangolins" thrown in there are many fine lines and exchanges, to wit:

"Staring in awe at the seraph that delivered her to the beating heart of the Garden of the Star, she'd found herself at a
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three and a half stars. The last 150 or so pages of this book were solid. A lot of trilogies really falter with the ending and this did not. It was satisfying and fitting, and I can't say much more than that without spoiling things. But the first two thirds could be a real slog at times. The character POV changes were frustrating and sometimes pointless, where in the first two volumes they added to the story. I'm especially, incredibly, almost angrily upset over huge amounts of time unaccounted ...more
Aksel Dadswell
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredible conclusion to one of the best fantasy series I've read. I love how each book maintains the overall tone of the series and builds its characters, while managing to veer in different and unexpected directions. This one goes all out with the monsters, and they're all gloriously gag-inducing and tactile. The way the author wrangles the big scenes and instills everything with a crazy energy is nothing short of masterful. The Crimson Empire trilogy is his most ambitious work but also his ...more
Eric Fritz
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This series is pure fun while also being a really modern take on fantasy that blows away a lot of old tropes. The ending was a bit abrupt but fitting, and the wrap-up showed just enough of everyone.
Adrian Collins
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Review originally posted on Grimdark Magazine.

Alex Marshall’s A War in Crimson Embers is the barnstorming end to one of my favourite trilogies of the last few years. Brilliantly structured, full of laughs and groans and twists all delivered in the Marshall’s very readable style, the author has delivered on the promises the first two books made during the their build up to the unleashing of Jex Toth and the pitting of the remaining Villains against…well…just about everybody it feels like at times
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Keeping this short and sweet because it's basically impossible to summarize the third book in a series without massive spoilers.

Better than book 2, still not as tight and interesting as book 1.

This is grimdark if grimdark was written with a humorous self-aware edge how much you like Marshall's narrative voice will determine how much you like the series overall. I enjoyed the story and became genuinely invested in a couple of characters and this one flows a lot better than the middle book in the
Pavlo Tverdokhlib
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: epic-fantasy, humour
Reviewing the last book in a series is usually difficult. You try to balance writing about the actual book, with giving thoughts on the series as a whole. Sometimes the series is good, but the last book doesn't quite stack up; sometimes it's the opposite

In any case, that's NOT a problem here. What we have is an action-packed, fast-paced, hilarious conclusion to an incredibly fun series. After the remarkable Book 2 where almost nothing happened...and then EVERYTHING happened all at once, "A War i
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Actual rating: 2,75

Well. This is rather sad. In spite of being rather invested in the fates of most every character, I found myself bored for long stretches of time, skimming the pages just to get to where it would get interesting. I think one of my main problems were the antagonists - they were boring AND gross, and yeah. Not my cup of tea. No, it is not.

I found the lack of answers to several mysteries deeply unsatisfactory, but I also dig it a little? At least in cases like Chop, whose true id
Eric Smith
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: epic-fantasy
This trilogy has quite a lot going for it and it ends very well. Well maybe not so well for the Star but it does have a nice solid ending with everything wrapped up pretty nicely for the characters that readers have been following since book one. Dire situations all around, gallows humor and plenty of snark and sarcasm flying every which was and a lot of philosophizing about life and death and war and other deep ideals usually right before getting thrown into the shit again.
There is some extrem
Ruth Harwood
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sometimes, when I'm reading a book that's long and intricate, such as this, all those daily interruptions just increase, so you read a page and have to answer the door, another, then the phone goes, another, tea has to be made... seriously, I was so enjoying this, but the interruptions meant it took me so long to read that in the end I was just getting fed up lol! It's a great finale to a trilogy, with all the conclusive battles and 'wow, they're alive' stuff, the double-crosses and the solution ...more
Eric Wegner
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I know this series doesn’t get much publicity, but it is so much fun. I got by sister to read the series and she also loved it.

So onto the review, the gang is all back and is as crazy as ever. The cast is jumping through space, crawling around strange live animal architecture, and getting the quick and dirty with anyone willing. So just about what you would expect from the series.

This book deals with the true aftermath of the Jax Tok coming back into the star. And surprisingly it gives me hope
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spec-fic
c2017: (15) FWFTB: warrior, pariah, goddess, barbarian, protégé. Not as good as Books 1 and 2. There is some complex plotting in this book and the lack of a 'What-has-gone-before' really hampered my enjoyment of this third book. Sadly, it was not as gripping as say, the Malazan books, where I am quite prepared to spend a lot of time looking up the various characters etc. I thought the characters were brilliant before so its sad that the only one I really remember is Zosia and only a very superfi ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This book never stops moving. Trading some of the intrigue and expansive wonder of the previous two volumes (especially the first), the series concludes with a relentless string of climaxes that, against all odds, manage to neatly – almost too neatly – tie everything together. It's probably my least favorite of the trilogy, because one of them had to be, but there're still some wonderful sequences, a staggering reveal or two and a couple of very touching moments. My main complaint is simply not ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Before I could really get into this book, I had to refresh my memory of the previous volumes. I am somewhat embarrassed that my understanding did not improve by much. The ritual that ended the first book summoned the lost island of Jex Toth back from the First Dark. That land's cursed inhabitants are bent on the destruction of the Star, and it's up to the valiant members of the Cobalt Company and their allies to stop them. There's much derring-do and adventuring, including a number of hair-raisi ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's a rare book that makes me laugh out loud, and this series consistently did so. Unique and admirable characters, few of whom would be described as "good", make up this epic high fantasy. The plot slowed a little in the middle of the series, but picked up the pace towards the end. Inventive plot twists, inventive everything. Filled with low morals, lots of drugs, violence, sex, and truly disgusting evil antagonists, I loved this book. Don't read it if you don't have a sense of humor. Cannot r ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing

What a good read!!! Throughout the book I admit I had to stop and ask myself what the heck I was reading (in a wonderful way). Alex Marshall never disappoints, this book was definitely a unique and epic read. There was no specific characters POV's I preferred to read over others, they were all equally interesting and enjoyable. If I had to complain about anything, was a little confused by how it ended. Overall it didn't take away from the awesomeness of the book.
Victoria Meyer
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've gotten to the end of long fantasy epics and been disappointed before. Even if everything ties up nicely, it can feel too predictable or dissatisfying.

This gave me surprises until the very last page. Not just one- but lots. Loose ends were tied up but I felt like I still wanted more. I wanted to see where all the potential spin-offs could land. It was beautifully crafted. I could have done with far less of the major romantic subplot, which felt a little tensionless by the end, but the rest
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This series is a delightfully different take on epic fantasy, full of really colorful characters, absurd situations, hilarious dialog and a lot of fantastic action. It's over the top and through the mud, but oh so enjoyable along the way. It took me a bit to get into it, but once I did I found myself really engaged all the way until the satisfying ending. These books have heart and wit and a lot to think about while the heroes (and anti-heroes) are getting into mess after bugged-out mess. Recomm ...more
Luu Phuong
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
It really depends on perspectives, of course, but I do believe that this book ends in a somewhat anticlimactic manner, especially when we put it in the same context as the striking opening in the first book. It is a relatively happy ending, but the way the resolution plays out disappointed me quite a bit. If possible, I wished that the world building would be a bit more comprehensive and some characters' nature ought to be explored in more details.
All things considered, however, it is a nice en
As entertaining a bunch of rascals as ever written. Sprawling non stop action and adventure with pitch perfect dialogue and extraordinarily believable and complex characters.

Why only three stars? I found its non stop action, adventure and almost continual chapter ending cliff hangers exhausting. There came a point, about midway, where all I wanted, despite my enjoyment of the book, was for it to end. So I'm conflicted about it, but not about the author: I'll read anything he next writes.

But Netf
Darren McGowan
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it

After eagerly awaiting the final installment, I found the ending unexpected. I really thought this would be a real curtain call for the villians, by the author really went in a different and nice direction. The characters are all the same, engaging and relatable. Plenty of action,and a very well thought out plot. The book did drag in the first third but the ending made up for it. I wasn't disappointed.
Nov 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
I have struggled with this series. There has always been a compelling story, just wrapped in a bunch of sloppy, overly precious layers. There’s still the same frustrating things in this final volume, but the enormous cast of characters felt like they finally really and truly gelled. By far, the strongest book of the trilogy IMO.
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Alex Marshall is a pseudonym for Jesse Bullington who has previously published several novels in different genres. - See more at:

Other books in the series

The Crimson Empire (3 books)
  • A Crown for Cold Silver (The Crimson Empire, #1)
  • A Blade of Black Steel (The Crimson Empire, #2)