Last Updated on November 16, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
Y’all, if mystery fantasy isn’t a genre, then it fucking needs to be.* Ohmygosh, Empire of Exiles by Erin M. Evans has lit such a fire in me! What a delicious story that you absolutely need to add to your TBRs ASAP. Why is the sequel not out yet? How can the publishing gods hate me so?
(Yes, I recognize the book is less than a week old, hush.)
So, let’s see how much fangirling I can fit into one review, shall we?
*If it is a genre and I’m just oblivious, put more recs in the comments!
An ARC copy was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Publisher: Orbit Books | Release Date: November 2022 | Pages: 448
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Fantasy | Format: Paperback | Source: ARC
Twenty-seven years ago, a Duke with a grudge led a ruthless coup against the empire of Semilla, killing thousands. He failed. The Duke was executed, a terrifyingly powerful sorcerer was imprisoned, and an unwilling princess disappeared.
The empire moved on.
Now, when Quill, an apprentice scribe, arrives in the capital city, he believes he’s on a simple errand for another pompous noble: fetch ancient artifacts from the magical Imperial Archives. He’s always found his apprenticeship to be dull work. But these aren’t just any artifacts — these are the instruments of revolution, the banners under which the Duke lead his coup.
Just as the artifacts are unearthed, the city is shaken by a brutal murder that seems to have been caused by a weapon not seen since the days of rebellion.
Since Quill is the only reliable witness to the murder, and no one in power believes his story, he must join with a young mage, a seasoned archivist, and a disillusioned detective to find the truth of the attack. And what they uncover will be the key to saving the empire – or destroying it for good.
On the Page
- Amnesia and memory disorders
- Medical experimentation?
- Blood and gore depictions
- Dead bodies and body parts
- of a friend
- of a guardian/parent
- Murder and attempted murder
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- Worldbuilding (particularly the magic system): This was so bloody creative! I am absolutely floored in the best ways by the magic system within this fascinating world. I won’t lie and say I still understand it fully, but wow. I loved it. And changlings?! I am so fascinated by changlings now.
- Blend of mystery and fantasy: I think we could tell from the shouting from my intro paragraph how much I loved this combo of genres. The way Evans interwove an epic fantasy world with mind-bending mystery, with the perfect amount of twists, turns, shocks and surprises? Yes, please, more of this.
- Characters: Amadea is my new role model, please and thank you. I LOVE her. But our exiles!? Would slay worlds for them, each and every one (yes, even you, Tunuk). Quill was surprising in all the best ways. Richa? Lord Ibramo? Hello. 🥵
- Characters make or break a book for me and this book is MADE by the strength of its characters.
- Hints of romance: Please say this gets expanded on in book two? Please? It HAS to. 🥺
- That it ended? That I have to wait who knows how long to read the next one? That this world isn’t real and I can’t join the Archives!? 😭
We also know I was already interested in this book because Orbit published it. And then the cover was released. It’s gorgeous. But reading it? Wow, it makes the top tier publisher and top notch cover almost pale in comparison.
Empire of Exiles is a book that leaves you itching for more and I am so glad this is the start to a series and not a standalone. It’s wonderfully written, dripping with intrigue and mystery, with characters you cannot help but root for (or hate). For fans of plot twists, amazing worldbuilding and the intense need to suffer because publishing is so slow and you need the sequel now? This book is for you.
Go read this now, friends. Go, go, go.