From the Empirium Trilogy series , Vol. 3

Pacing issues aside, a conclusion sure to satisfy fans of the trilogy.

Following Kingsbane (2019), mother and daughter queens separated across time complete each other’s stories in this trilogy closer.

Held captive by the Emperor Corien after Simon’s betrayal, Eliana defies efforts to fully restore Simon’s marque power, which would enable Corien to reunite with Rielle. Eliana’s refusal is met with psychological torture in the form of dreams that feel real and through the suffering of her loved ones. Her torment is finally interrupted by a mysterious voice in her head, which results in Eliana’s greater knowledge of the Deep and the world’s mythology. Meanwhile, 1,000 years in the past, Rielle’s storyline follows her as she, fleeing heartbreak and rejection from Audric (now regretful of his reaction, deposed, and seeking asylum and allies), is dragged deeper into darkness by Corien. Rielle’s storyline leans hard on the love-triangle element. Many of these plotlines (using primary and secondary characters’ viewpoints drawn from the large, unwieldy cast) spin in repetitive ruts so that all of the pieces land in place for a dynamic, flashy final act that unifies the storylines and themes. Race and ethnicity carry no significance in this diverse fantasy world with many secondary characters of color; Corien, Simon, and Rielle are White; Audric has brown skin. Same-sex relationships also have casual, positive representation.

Pacing issues aside, a conclusion sure to satisfy fans of the trilogy. (map, list of elements) (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5668-5

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020


Fun while it lasts but not one of Scalzi’s stronger books.

Some people are born supervillains, and others have supervillainy thrust upon them.

Charlie Fitzer, a former business journalist–turned–substitute teacher, is broke and somewhat desperate. His circumstances take an unexpected and dangerous turn when his estranged uncle Jake dies, leaving his business—i.e., his trillion-dollar supervillain empire—to Charlie. Charlie doesn’t really have the skills or experience to manage the staff of the volcano lair, and matters don’t improve when he’s pressured to attend a high-level meeting with other supervillains, none of whom got along with his uncle. With the aid of his uncle’s No. 1, Mathilda Morrison, and his cat, Hera (who turns out to be an intelligent and typing-capable spy for his uncle’s organization), Charlie must sort out whom he can trust before he gets blackmailed, blown up, or both. This book serves as a follow-up of sorts to Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society (2022) in that both are riffs on genre film tropes. The current work is fluffier and sillier than the previous novel and, indeed, many of Scalzi’s other books, although there is the occasional jab about governments being in bed with unscrupulous corporate enterprises or the ways in which people can profit from human suffering. This is one of many available stories about a good-hearted Everyman thrust into fantastical circumstances, struggling to survive as a fish out of water, and, while well executed for its type, the plot doesn’t go anywhere that will surprise you.

Fun while it lasts but not one of Scalzi’s stronger books.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9780765389220

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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