Petrik's Reviews > Empress of Forever

Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone
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it was ok

2.5/5 stars

Praise-worthy imagination and world-building, but sadly, it’s time to admit that Max Gladstone’s books aren’t suitable for me.


Empress of Forever has been on my TBR ever since I first heard about it. Judging from the blurb alone, I was immediately intrigued. Just read the blurb, seriously, it sounds so cleverly insane and my god, Gladstone delivers completely on this; stunningly original and cool world-building to witness. That’s exactly what I found to be brilliant from Gladstone’s books, his world-building, action scenes, prose, and ideas always feel refreshing and unique. I’ve read only two books in his Craft Sequence series and the things that worked for me there is even more evident here. I won’t lie that there were a lot of moments from this book that made me truly flabbergasted because it’s extremely imaginative. Time travel, an ancient Empress that could destroy a planet with a single thought, character literally sitting on a freaking comet flying through space, sentient machines, dead planets, and many more insanity that’s crazier than the one I just mentioned; there’s no shortage to Gladstone’s ambitious imagination in creating this novel.

Now then, what made this book didn’t work for me came to the same reason why Craft Sequence didn’t work, his characters always felt lacking in motivations and personality to me. This could be just me, I know a lot of readers who’ve loved Gladstone’s characters in Craft Sequence. I found his characterizations to be not prioritized. Many of the characters lack detail in motivation and feelings that are necessary to make me care for their journey. For instance, Vivian Shao was catapulted to the future at the beginning of the book. The entire storyline revolves around her gathering a crew of misfits to defeat the Empress so she could go back to her present timeline and be reunited with Magda. Why? Viv did say that she wants to return the present timeline, which she hates, and Magda is important to her. However, there wasn’t enough scene that shows that importance; just because she said it doesn’t instantly means or look like she genuinely cares. Viv even looked like she’s having fun more in the future timeline. The only character that I ended up finding interesting was Zanj, that’s it. Not gonna lie, I DNFed this book somewhere around 65% and I just can’t bring myself to continue further because I simply don’t care about the characters’ journey; cool ideas and world-building alone aren’t what I’m looking for in a novel.

It's a shame that I can't love Gladstone's work more. I bounced off Craft Sequence but I really thought I was going to enjoy this one. Empress of Forever is full of brilliant world-building and crazy stories, but unfortunately none of the characters made me feel invested. This is probably where I stop with reading his work.

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
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Reading Progress

September 11, 2018 – Shelved
June 23, 2019 – Started Reading
June 25, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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message 1: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Sometimes it didn’t work out for us even with a popoular writer.


message 2: by Rinaldo (last edited Jun 25, 2019 03:02AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rinaldo Welp, bummer. I'm about 28% in and enjoying the Journey to the West parallels so far. Then again I've always been a plot and world building oriented reader. Hope you enjoy your next book!


Rinaldo Oh and I don't think Viv hates the current timeline. It's just she was on the verge of fixing problem but then abruptly spirited away. She still cares about Magda, her family, and Lucy, at least that's my reading of it.


Petrik Audrey wrote: "Sometimes it didn’t work out for us even with a popoular writer."

Exactly. Oh well! :)


Petrik Rinaldo wrote: "Oh and I don't think Viv hates the current timeline. It's just she was on the verge of fixing problem but then abruptly spirited away. She still cares about Magda, her family, and Lucy, at least th..."

That's a good take! I just think of it as she hates the current timeline so much and it's true that she's on the verge of fixing the problem, the new relationship she built in the future seems to suggest that she enjoy the future more. At least that's my take on it. See, that's also the thing... she said that she cares about them, and maybe indeed she does. But I'm not feeling it at all. There wasn't enough scenes to show that she cares except that she said it repeatedly.


Petrik Rinaldo wrote: "Welp, bummer. I'm about 28% in and enjoyed the Journey if the West parallels so far. Then again I'm always plot and world building oriented reader. Hope you enjoy your next book!"

And thank you, man! I hope you enjoy this book too! I do think that the book started out super strong though, especially their first meeting with Zanj. It gradually became boring for me after I', used to the cool ideas and world-building. :/


message 7: by Jody (new)

Jody That sucks bro! Onto the next one. Hope it's great! :)


Petrik Jody wrote: "That sucks bro! Onto the next one. Hope it's great! :)"

Thanks, bro! I'm actually reading non-fiction right now! xD


message 9: by Nicole (new)

Nicole East It sounds like the stakes are very low if there isn't much of a reason to want to return to the present timeline. Does that sound about right?


Petrik Nicole wrote: "It sounds like the stakes are very low if there isn't much of a reason to want to return to the present timeline. Does that sound about right?"

Yeah... at least that's how I saw it. I didn't feel the intensity of the situation at all. But that could be just me. I think overall Gladstone's writing just doesn't click with me! :/


message 11: by Jody (new)

Jody Petrik wrote: "Jody wrote: "That sucks bro! Onto the next one. Hope it's great! :)"

Thanks, bro! I'm actually reading non-fiction right now! xD"


Non-fiction??? I am now convinced someone has hacked your profile, Petrik. You may want to have GR look into that. Lol! xD


Petrik Jody wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Jody wrote: "That sucks bro! Onto the next one. Hope it's great! :)"

Thanks, bro! I'm actually reading non-fiction right now! xD"

Non-fiction??? I am now convinced someone has hack..."


Hahahahaha I think this is my first non-fiction read in years!! I'll be back to SFF once I'm done with this! :D


Christopher I think the major issue with this book is that Viv should have been portrayed as a major asshole and wasn’t


Petrik Christopher wrote: "I think the major issue with this book is that Viv should have been portrayed as a major asshole and wasn’t"

That's an interesting take... I didn't think of that, but I wonder if it would've make the book better xD


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