Empire of Light - Alex Harrow
About the Book
Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill. In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy.
Then Damian’s latest mark, a suave revolutionary named Raeyn, kicks his ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.
To protect his friends and save his own skin, Damian teams up with Raeyn to make his revolution work. As the revolution gains traction, Damian gets way too close to Raeyn, torn between the need to shoot him one moment and kiss him the next. But Aris slips further away from Damian, and as Aris’ control over his powers crumbles, the Watch catches on.
With the Empire, Damian had two policies: shoot first and don’t ask questions. But to save the guy he loves, he’ll set the world on fire.
Published on: February 25, 2019
Author: Alex Harrow
AN ARC WAS PROVIDED BY THE AUTHOR IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW
Empire of Light is a story that starts fast, and doesn’t seem to be letting up on the action anytime soon. Harrow doesn’t waste time with exposition about the world or the characters, rather they jump right in to showing you exactly the kinds of things that the protagonist gets up to on a regular basis. And it’s a good measure for the rest of the novel; it hurtles along from start to finish with barely a pause for the characters to breathe, which makes it the kind of book that is hard to put down.
But as fast as the plot start, Harrow does an excellent job of introducing the characters and making them the kind of people that are both wholly loveable and terribly intriguing. Damian’s first person perspective is charged with savvy and understated wit, traversing the path of the reluctant hero that is only there to protect the things most important to him. And as those important things become apparent they transfer easily to the reader. Damian is put through the ringer, surrounded by characters who are playing ten different games at once while he is determined to win one.
The world that builds up around the story is one that feels unsettlingly close to home; different enough to be wild and fantastic, but it definitely feels like a future not too distant from our own time, both in time and political spaces. It is built beautifully, the reader being well aware of the setting while never pausing for long bouts of exposition that may interrupt the fast plot. Both the descriptions and the dialogue serve to keep pace with the plotlines, as well as keeping true to the nature of the main character, who no one would describe as a flowery person.
It takes some time before the overarching plot is apparent, and for the second act of the book Damian seems to be more jostled along by others actions than being the kind of proactive protagonist that readers may be used to in science fiction. For the most part it works, though it can be a bit jarring to hurtle along at this fast pace without a full idea where you are going.
Overall it was an enjoyable read full of characters whose journey I can’t wait to continue, and I world I would love to revisit. If you want dimensional, diverse main characters, and if you like science fiction that doesn’t require an entire encyclopedia to follow, then this is a book you will thoroughly enjoy.