cover image The Throne of Five Winds

The Throne of Five Winds

S.C. Emmett. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (704p) ISBN 978-0-316-43694-6

Emmett debuts with a lackluster, exhaustingly overwrought epic fantasy inspired by East Asian cultures. Ashan Mahara, princess of Khir, and her lady-in-waiting, Komor Yala, travel to Zhaon, where Mahara’s marriage to a prince of Zhaon is intended to unite the two warring countries. However, this union isn’t met with much enthusiasm in Zhaon. While mourning her brother, who died in the war, Yala solemnly takes the duty of protecting and comforting Mahara as they navigate their new palace and politics, assessing veiled threats and finding allies. Assassination attempts lead Yala to accept help from Gen. Zakkar Kai, who’s also been threatened, and Third Prince Takshin, who has no loyalty to his family; these connections hint at a love triangle but are never adequately developed even as individual friendships. When Yala is mistaken for Mahara and kidnapped, Kai and Takshin hunt for her, drawing closer to discovering who is behind the assassination attempts. Emmett’s convoluted background history and descriptions leave out important information and sometimes interrupt the scene, delaying the progress of what might otherwise have been a strong tale of intrigue. An overwhelming number of characters creates a dense story with an exciting final chapter that arrives much too late. Agent: Miriam Kriss, Irene Goodman Literary. (Oct.)