cover image Hollow Empire

Hollow Empire

Sam Hawke. Tor, $19.99 trade paper (560p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9694-5

Hawke ably polishes off the two-volume Poison War epic fantasy she began with City of Lies with a richly textured tale of old treachery and new intrigue. In the previous volume, siblings Jovan, a “proofer” who tests foods for poison to protect Chancellor Tain, and Kalina, a diplomat and spy, worked together with Jovan’s magic-wielding lover, Hadrea, to save the city-state of Silastra. Now they face a new, sinister force extending tentacles into Silastra’s ruling council itself and engendering rifts among the city’s rulers, even as an elaborate, colorful street festival unfolds in the city around them. When a nobleman is murdered and plots by a gang of drug dealers to discredit Jovan come to light, Jovan, Kalina, and Hadrea must muster both human insights and Darfri magic to save their homeland from instability. Fans will savor Hawke’s well-shaded characters, the lavish descriptions of their fictional world, and Hawke’s acute analyses of self-doubt, guilt, discrimination, and recrimination. This is a political epic done right. (Dec.)