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Those Below

(The Empty Throne #2)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  558 ratings  ·  52 reviews
For centuries beyond counting, humanity has served the Others, god-like Eternals who rule from their cloud-capped mountain-city, building a civilization of unimagined beauty and unchecked viciousness.

But all that is about to change. Bas Alyates, grizzled general of a thousand battles, has assembled a vast army with which to contend with the might of Those Above. Eudokia, M
Paperback, 358 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Hodder & Stoughton
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  558 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
Great finish. Polansky is up there with Joe Abercrombie on my all time favourites list.
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  ·  review of another edition
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?
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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!
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
A great follow up to Those Above... Polansky is a master of prose. Full review to come.
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
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
Paul Allard
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
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better pacing than the first book, but the ending seemed somewhat too obvious.
3.5 stars rounded up to 4 because I really like Polansky's writing style, but still recommend to start reading Polansky with the Low Town series and not with this doulogy.
Scott Gardner
May 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Engrossing storyline , times you feel for the eternals , then they do something as you change your mind , The Aelerian army , like all great empire before them laying waste on the whim of one , are hard to like also , with the exception of Bas , his ending is quite sad
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars! Daniel Polansky is amazing. "He doesn't write fast enough"!
Charl van Niekerk
Superb. How does Mr. Polansky fit so much goodness into two relatively little books?
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it, but only four stars because the ending was so abrupt. I need closure in my life!!!
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this one much more than the first. The paced picked up a bit and you could see where the inevitable conclusion was coming. Polansky's a very good writer. I hope to read more of his stuff.
I like Bas tho. I might have misjudged the first book.

Maybe this should be sold as an omnibus?
Jaakko Mäkelä
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
 Julie Caesar (Chiyu)
2.5 stars

It was ok. Not bad but didn't really hold my interest.
Joey Stettnisch
Wow really surprised after how good the first book was. There's just no content in this one.
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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)