Review: Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke

41555965I’ve been waiting very patiently (not that patiently) for this book, and so when I was given an opportunity to read a copy of it a little early, I jumped at it headfirst.

So, thanks to the author, as well as Tor for the review copy!

Poison was only the beginning…. The deadly siege of Silasta woke the ancient spirits, and now the city-state must find its place in this new world of magic. But people and politics are always treacherous, and it will take all of Jovan and Kalina’s skills as proofer and spy to save their country when witches and assassins turn their sights to domination.

“She was different, and some folks can’t tolerate that, can’t see a thing they don’t understand without feeling angry or wanting to force it to be something they do understand.”

This is the (continuing) story of Jovan and Kalina Oromani, who are nobles in the city of Silasta. Since the events of City of Lies, life has for the most part gone on. Jovan has taken on an apprentice proofer (poison taster), Kalina has thankfully recovered from things that occurred, and Tain Iliri is doing his best at being chancellor, despite his health being in somewhat of a decline since those events.

When strange things begin happening, and the Oromani family (as well as two others) are seemingly being specifically targeted for scandal and assassination, it takes all three of their skills to unravel what’s really happening and who would have a grudge so large on their family that they’d resort to witchcraft and assassination.

Having really liked City of Lies, I knew going in that I was going to like Hollow Empire. I love love love Jov, Tain, and Lini as characters. They are flawed, but never let their disabilities or differences stop them. I especially see myself in Jovan, who has anxiety and something similar in presentation to OCD.  He has ticks and compulsions that sometimes even help him solve the mystery at hand.

And mystery it is. Just like City of Lies, this one had me suspect pretty much everyone of being the baddie. With the exception of the three main characters, I had my eyes metaphorically narrowed at nearly every single other character. When things really did start coming to light in the end, it was very much a surprise to me.

This book, especially the last quarter of it, gave me a couple really good kicks in the feels, and while they weren’t necessarily good feels (some were, though), they really gave the story that depth that always gets me so invested in it. I continue to be invested in these characters after the fact. The story was left in a place that fully closed the plot at hand, and yet left the world open to further exploration, and I for one hope that more exploration comes along.

All told, I loved Hollow Empire just as much as I loved City of Lies. Characters that I can’t help but love put into situations that I can’t help but fear for them in. That, to me, a good story makes. It was fantastic! 5/5 stars!~


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