I decided to write this head to head review because of numerous reasons:
- I liked both books a lot,
- both books start a series and introduce a new world,
- both are self-published
- I have read them some time ago and don’t feel able to write reviews that stand on their own. I can’t reread books. I tried a few times, but every single sentence feels so known, that I always wonder why I read again what I already know.
- they belong to the same genre, roughly, because the fantasy part in “Honor Among Thieves” is much more present.
- they both feature a female hero: Honor and Amaranthe. Both are trained fighters, but on a very different skill level, a very different age and experience and a different race, Honor being an elf and Amaranthe human. Taking another character from “The Emperor’s Edge”, Honor might be similar to Sicarius, if you will.
- both take place in a fantasy setting were fantasy creatures and magic are supposed to not exist or to be a part of the distant past.
Well so much about the reasons for this head on review and the many similarities. I guess that says a lot about my favorite type of novels.
“The Emperor’s Edge” is written by Lindsay Buroker, an author with an impressive shelf of books written so far. This, and the fact, that the first book is free, are seducing, because if feels, as if you can ever dive deeper in the world she has created, with fair price tags, naturally. And I have fallen in the trap, I admit it. Besides Amaranthe and her companions, Buroker has three books starring a different set of characters, living in the same world. I haven’t read those, yet. I came to know about the Emperor’s Edge by a recommendation of a fellow wordpressian.
“Honor Among Thieves” is written by Elaine Cunningham. I came to know her from her Forgotten Realms novels “Daughter of the Drow” and “Tangled Webs” and just recently rediscovered her. I found out that she has published “Honor Among Thieves”, which is set in it’s own universe: “Tales of Sevrin”. This book is self-published. Cunningham is otherwise a traditionally published author.
The Emperor’s Edge
The Emperor’s Edge is the longer book. The story feels more complex and has a touch of a detective story. At the beginning Corporal Amaranthe Lokdon is a member of the armed forces, the enforcers. The enforcers are responsible to keep the streets clean and secure. Amaranthe stumbled per chance into her soldier nations, not really grown up Emperor, who instantly falls in love for her. Since then everything changes: she get’s the suicide mission to assassinate one of the nations most wanted criminals and serial killer: Sicarius.
To her own surprise Sicarius didn’t kill her as her plan fails. He hints at her, that with this mission, someone was trying to get rid of her, by using him. And that he don’t like to be used. She soon discovers the reason for all this: she might become a distraction for the Emperor. And that is only the beginning. A huge intrigue unfolds and a mysterious society threatening to kill the Emperor enters the stage. There is also a mysterious creature lurking in the streets and killing people at night. For a long time, I wasn’t sure in which way the story might evolve.
In the end the story feels pretty wrapped up. Which is quite fair. A huge cliffhanger, to draw more readers into the series, is what I would have been expecting. In the course of the book Amaranthe built a decent party with much room for character wise development and skill wise improvements. So more books feel naturally and believable. That is what J.K. Rowling did wrong in the first Potter. There obviously was no plan for more. Have I ever told you that I hate Harry Potter, the books, the films, everything. She really should have stopped after the first book. But back to the topic.
The writing is good. The characters became more and more believable and lively. Especially the Emperor, Sespian, the only other POV character in the book, gets more and more real. The pace was sometimes a little bit to slow for me, though.
A map of the place inside the book, with the different districts, would have been really nice. Sometimes I was a little lost. I found here a map of the wider area, and here a map of Stumps, the capital, where most of the book takes place.
“Honor Among Thieves” is the shorter book, a quick read with a good pace and lot’s of fantasy in it. You find the obvious races: dwarves, elves and humans. As well as fairies. The story is quite straight and simple. It’s only a matter of finding out, who intents what, who keeps which secrets and is loyal to whom.
Their are more POV characters, though. Vishni, the fairy, playing a quite big and interesting role. The first scene starts with Vishni, hinting at her backstory, and her intentions. She is caught in this dimension for crimes unknown, till now, and must write a decent book of fairy tales, to be allowed back from exile, in her own dimension.
The party is already established right at the beginning of the book. And Vishni is willingly a member, because she forsees (if this is really the case, doesn’t shine through) that their leader Fox (also a POV character) will achieve great things. Worthy to write tales about, at least. She is naturally quickly bored and brings the whole party continuously and willingly into dangerous situations. “To improve the story”, she states often in excuse for her destructive behaviour.
The third member is Delgar a dwarf, with the ability to stone shift: rearranging stone by magic. And the fourth is an older alchemist, Avidan, who is a little bit “clouded”, because he’s once visited the fairy dimension. Each of them is very mighty, except Fox, who makes the plans, has a mysterious background and a to be discovered inheritance, to cope with the lack of prowess, I guess.
The cities ruler, obviously the villain, has awoken Honor from a mysterious 10 year sleep and sends her to help in capturing Fox and his gang. The claimed reason: they are causing much trouble, and are stealing and accumulating everything that might contain any magic. So they arrange a hoax attack. Fox and Delgar “rescue” Honor and take her with them to their hideout, the Fox Den.
Since then, they set out to recover a mysterious artifact: The Thorn, supposed to be owned by another cities ruler. A plan ala Ocean’s Eleven unfolds and … you should discover the rest by yourself.
I like the word play of the book’s title, the variety and the power of the characters capabilities, the clockwork part, I haven’t mentioned so far and the depth of the characters. And the writing is excellent.
Personally I like it a little more fantastic. So Ms. Cunningham hits that spot straight on. Additionally her writing carries more emotions, is more atmospheric. I was sucked deeper into the story and loved the quirky characters instantly.
Ms. Buroker did a great job as well and has the more complex and challenging story to tell. Emotionally it’s lacking a bit, though. Sometimes Amaranthe is a bit talkative. That might be the reason why the pace get’s a little slow in some scenes.
The Emporer’s Edge: 6 out of 7
Honor Among Thieves: 6.5 out of 7