cover image The Bloody Throne

The Bloody Throne

S.C. Emmett. Orbit, $17.99 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-316-45343-1

The grisly path to power reaches its blood-drenched conclusion in Emmett’s complex final Hostage of Empire epic fantasy (after The Poison Prince). The story opens shortly after the deaths of Garan Takyeo, emperor of Zhaon-An, and his sister, Sabwone. With tensions boiling over at court, Takyeo’s successor, Garan Kurin, is desperate to hold his position, even if it means committing unspeakable acts. Meanwhile, Komor Yala, a Khir noblewoman trapped in Zhaon-An’s court, uses the protection of her betrothal to Third Prince Takshin to investigate who was behind Khir’s Princess’s death. As Khir wages war against Zhaon-An, the death toll climbs at court, and it becomes clear that there’s no safety among the treacherous royal family, nor sanctuary outside of the kingdom walls as Khir inches closer to victory. Though the pacing is improved from the second volume, the myriad subplots and expansive cast still prove challenging to untangle. Once readers get reacclimated, they’ll be able to appreciate the detailed, expansive worldbuilding and subtle shifts in strategy. Series fans will enjoy seeing this one through. (Mar.)