An unsteady new empress in the West and a ruined nation in the East are both threatened by forces unknown, a shadowy group of masked figures with their own grudges to settle and a desire to see their world fall into chaos.
Fantasy epics such as David Hair’s Empress Of The Fall often succeed or fail on the strength of their world-building; it has to be a landscape that readers not only understand, but also want to spend their time in.
The book resides in the same world as David Hair’s Moontide Quartet. It is accessible for new readers, but it does mean that there is a great deal of history waiting to catch up on. There are political machinations, questions of royal lineage, an influential religion, and a long history of conflict.
The first half of the book is dense and, unfortunately at times, a little confusing. Yet the attention paid to such details begins to pay off spectacularly in the second half as the plot speeds into action and the consequences of early decisions begin to emerge.
Vibrant, memorable characters are littered across the landscape and the Lantric masks are a great piece of detail, allowing a glimpse into the arts and culture of Urte, but also used by the nefarious conspirators to retain anonymity. Some identities are revealed, others remain mysterious, but it adds an extra investigative dimension to the tale.
For anyone looking for a new sprawling fantasy epic to stick their teeth into, Empress Of The Fall is an ultimately satisfying journey into a fascinating and chaotic landscape.