Mark Lawrence's Reviews > Empire of Silence

Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio
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really liked it

A good read. Everyone draws their own lines regarding prose. Some want very workmanlike lines that put the whole focus on story. Some like to lose themselves in the beauty of the language. There's a line that divides poetic prose from purple prose and everyone draws their own version of that too. I liked the writing in the book. It was dramatic and occasionally a little overblown, but it was done with skill and I didn't consider it purple.

At the start the book has strong Dune vibes with technology restrictions leading to the book's equivalent of mentats, & feudal hierarchies overlaying a hightech world. The planet even has a rare & valuable element to mine and powerful traders who come to negotiate for it. I was aching for someone to say "Let the spice flow." But it's not a big thing and the parallels end there.

The book also gave me Name of the Wind vibes, arising from several sources. There is the aforementioned poetic prose. Then there is the fact that we are given a grand framing narrative in which much later on our hero is a figure of legend, a man who did this grand thing and that grand thing. And as the book unfolds, rather like in TNOTW, we see a disconnect between the scale of the story and the frame. Hadrian might well be going to put out suns and lay empires low one day, but for the entirety of this quite long book he is not even going to approach the foothills of those things. The TNOTW vibe is further enhanced by hard on the heels of his history changing future we get to see him fall from grace and roll about in the streets rather like the "I was down and out in Tarbean" section from Rothfuss's epic.

So it's a space opera but with a feudal, in many ways medieval society where religion holds sway and heretics are extravagantly tortured. It's fun in lots of ways. Most of the technology is like magic.

I can buy into shields, faster than light communication, a fear of computers, and high matter swords, no problem. There was only bit that hurt my science & sense of reality which concerned the ancient ruins they spend a long time exploring. And it was that these ruins, known of for many centuries of occupation by separate empires, are made of material that doesn't register on scans & they can't break bits from. The implication is this stuff is wholly new to science & not made of atoms... This is the sort of thing that drives new science & scientists go crazy for. But for 100s of years nobody has given a damn.

Anyway, rather than space battles and ray guns this is really a planet-based book with sword fighting and archaeology, character focused, and with the plot driven in large part by the sole PoV's curiosity and desire not to follow orders, be they from his family or other of the empire's nobility.

I've not read sci-fi of this type for quite some time, and this was a nice reminder of it. I had fun with the book.


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Reading Progress

March 13, 2019 – Started Reading
March 13, 2019 – Shelved
March 13, 2019 –
page 50
8.01% "Early days yet, but it's good writing, definitely better than your average book. Relies on a lot of foreshadowing but that lets the story start at a slower pace having assured you our main character is going places.

Waiting to see how original the plot is. Currently it's comfortable echoes of a lot of other things, but engaging."
March 20, 2019 –
page 150
24.04% "At the start the book has strong Dune vibes with technology restrictions leading to the book's equivalent of mentats, & feudal hierarchies overlaying a hightech world. The planet even has a rare & valuable element to mine.

Later on and it's giving me Name of the Wind vibes from the "I was down and out in Tarbean" section as our hero, with his grand destiny already laid out before us, haunts the streets as a beggar."
March 28, 2019 –
page 565
90.54% "Another Name of the Wind vibe in this book is how the framing story (just scattered foreshadowing, but quite specific) paints a picture of a grand destination and yet for all of this book (so far) our main character bumbles around with adventures on a much smaller scale - many of them just involving not starving. Such that you conclude that there is no way he will reach those promised heights in the space allowed."
March 28, 2019 –
page 565
90.54% "One gripe that hurts my science & sense of reality is that these ruins, known of for many centuries of occupation by separate empires, are made of material that doesn't register on scans & they can't break bits from. The implication is this stuff is wholly new to science & not made of atoms...

This is the sort of thing that drives new science & scientists go crazy for. But for 100s of years nobody has given a damn."
April 2, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary S. R. space opera + medieval society + religion & heretics + character based + poetic prose + technology + curiosity + defying orders = me being the victim of a very brutal robbery—MY MONEY!


Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin Excellent review my friend!! I loved this book!! FYI: the book sleeve is in the mail. I will send you a pic when I get it! You’re gonna shit, I almost shit when she sent me the pics of it!!! 🖤🐶🐺🐾😉


Phil Kozel The next one is excellent as well!


Matthew Bryan Yes I totally get you. The easiest way to describe this book in a sentence is Red Rising crossed with Name of the Wind. I believe describing books like that does do them a disservice but nonetheless, it's a simple comparison to draw.

If you want a similar SciFantasy world like Dune and this book, I HIGHLY recommend Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I'm upset because I know the book is going to be criminally underread. I reviewed it on YouTube if you search "Books Rebound, Best SFF Standalones" you should find a video where I mention Cage of Souls, Middlegame and A Brightness Long Age by Guy Gavriel Kay (MASTER of prose lol).

Cage of Souls is spectacular. It takes place FAR in the future in a world dying from how humanity ruined in. There's one city left on the planet; it's called Shadrapar and it's home to 100 000 human souls. The story is told in 5 parts about a man Stefan Advani who is sent to a terrifying floating prison in the middle of a jungle swamp. Parts 2 and 4 go back and detail his crime and how he evaded the law while the other 3 parts detail his prison experience. The book was reallllly impressive and it would mean a lot if you looked into it and recommended it to people. It's really great and not enough people know about it! Feel free to check out my video on Books Rebound or LifeGoofer also has a video about it!


Brad Kirk I really enjoyed Empire of Silence and the author, Christopher Ruocchio is a great guy to boot. Highly recommended.

Matthew, Cage of Souls was awesome as well. I also really liked Children of Time. Adrian Tchaikovsky is a bit hit and miss for me as to how much I like a particular book, but those two were great.


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