cover image The Poison Prince

The Poison Prince

S.C. Emmett. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (560p) ISBN 978-0-316-45342-4

The intricate, slow-moving second fantasy in Emmett’s Asian-influenced Hostage of Empire series (following The Throne of the Five Winds) opens shortly after the murder of Crown Princess Mahara in Zhaon, leaving Komor Yala, Mahara’s lady-in-waiting, stranded in the foreign kingdom. Grieving and duty-bound, Yala is determined to discover the culprit, even if it means entangling herself in perilous court politics and allying with Zhaon’s conniving royals. Yala enlists honorable Gen. Zakkar Kai and unpredictable Third Prince Takshin to assist her in the investigation—and both men fall deeply in love with her and seek her hand in marriage. Meanwhile, the ailing Emperor’s condition grows suspiciously worse, and sly Second Prince Kurin schemes for the throne. As the battle for power corrupts the royal family and Yala continues her unyielding quest, the plot is weighed down by an overabundance of detail and a large ensemble of complex characters. Still, Emmett’s worldbuilding is sophisticated and captivating, hinting at a larger culture even as the novel remains narrowly focused on the petty intrigues of the court. New readers may have trouble catching up, but returning fans will find plenty to enjoy. [em](Nov.) [/em]