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Empress (2007)

by Karen Miller

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Godspeaker (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8603018,924 (3.39)41
Sold into slavery, Hekat is taken to Mijak's largest city, where she grows into a beautiful and determined woman, driven by ambition, ingenuity, and fierce dreams of success to become powerful enough to take over as ruler of Mijak.
  1. 00
    Empress by Alma Alexander (reading_fox)
    reading_fox: Similar story - slave to empress in one book.
  2. 00
    Odalisque by Fiona McIntosh (quigui)
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» See also 41 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Almost 700 pages where we follow the exploits of an emotionally stunted hero. Did I need the full saga of Hekat's life to understand her motivations? No, no I did not. The plot of the book is essentially a Cinderella story: a slave from the savage north becomes empress because she is chosen by god. This is a good concept on paper except that the protagonist is extremely unlikable, and this is mostly because she is a sycophant, and it makes it really difficult to care about what happens to her. She does everything, and claims it is for her god. She is the exception, and claims that it is because she was chosen by god. Do the gods exist? Who knows? Who cares? At the end of the day the conflict comes from three people who all claim the god speaks through them, but are hearing drastically different things. This has the effect of making the character seem crazy. I get it, she was unloved as a child, and she is determined to never be a slave again, but that is not enough to garner sympathy by the end of the book. Like, I read Medea, and still had sympathy, but the difference is that Hekat's actions do not feel just, and it is difficult to care. She has a lot of hubris ( like any tragic hero from your High School lit class), there is a lot of misplaced confidence in her decisions on all fronts. She became empress because she has so much arrogance that everyone thinks that she knows what she is doing, but the plot has to literally flex itself around this ridiculous conceit, until things fall apart. If she were a bit more of a character, and maybe if she had a bit more interaction with the guy who inexplicably fell in love with her, the majority of the book wouldn't have felt so pointless. I was reading this trying to figure out how she was succeeding, because she shouldn't have been succeeding, and whenever she succeeded ( because she is a sycophant) it is proof that she was "in the god's eye," but as a thinking reader of fantasy, supernatural powers do not prove the existence of a god or demons in the world, and I think it is interesting that there is nobody who is definitively "demonstruck" people point fingers, like in the Salem Witch Trials, but who is demonstruck is determined more by who holds different beliefs to you. That was the really realistic thing about it, god isn't a character in this book, god contradicts himself, not everyone has the same god. The world is clearly built influenced by classical civilizations like ancient Rome and Greece, as well as with the philosophy of imperialist societies, especially christian ones. The voice of god swings back and forth between New Testament God and Old Testament God, and the voice of god and the motivations of god change with both the individual and the needs of the new world. The last couple of chapters that are told from the viewpoint of her son were a much better read for me, and really redeemed the rest of the book. The problem is that grimdark is not my trash. I do not like seeing horrible people succeed and good people fail. I also have issues with racial coding in fantasy because a race of people with vitiligo, and brown-skinned people with blue eyes is... problematic especially from a white Australian author. I think that people who have problems with the dialogue are, right, the characters talk weird and it is draining to read. ( )
  Kittyfoil | Oct 25, 2020 |
The first time I read this book was after finding this series on sale as a teen(I think). Back then I really liked the book, even if Hekat is not very nice. This time around I listened to the audio even though I still have my paperback copy. My husband tried to read the series because I encouraged him to, but got stuck on Hekat, and eventually put the book back on the shelf. I can't help but agree that she is selfish, mean, elitist, and brutal. I appreciate her as the initially sympathetic villain she is. It really is too bad that her twisted psyche is able to twist the lives of what otherwise seem to be good people when working with the ugliness of the culture of Mijak, the setting of this novel. I think that I like this book because I like Hekat as a villain. She's endlessly annoying, but she's pretty real to me. I wish someone in the world of the story would show her that she's wrong, but I'm not willing to say that this story is a bad one because she's so wrong or because of the odd formal . I would recommend this series for people who are interested in creative writing, anthropologists, and those who like knowing more about the villains in their stories. I think these kinds of readers would appreciate the culture's complexity and variation, even if no one I know would approve of it. Mijak is well planned out as a pious and brutal culture with mild to extreme misogyny depending on locale, and this story to me explores what that kind of controlling, hard environment could do to people. ( )
  Noeshia | Oct 23, 2020 |
It takes a bit to get used to the language used, but once you get past that this book is hard to put down! I definitely have a love/hate relationship with Hekat...but this is a must read simply because it is so different. ( )
  amurrheew | Oct 15, 2020 |
In the interest of my goal of DNF more this year, I'm dropping this book at 60%. I just realized I have exactly zero desire to continue reading. I want to see where this is going, but not enough to actually read it. I don't like the main character - she is absolutely batshit insane and everyone is enabling her "because the god wills it". Personal theory is that the god just happens to be people with magical abilities, because every time the god wills something for Hekkate, it takes 2 or 3 times to get the result she wants.

Plus the whole plotline is just boring. Resources are dwindling, "because the god is angry" with people or whatever. And war is on the horizon.

I just truly have no desire to keep going.
  keikii | Jan 23, 2020 |
this was... weird. I loved the depth of the world building, I loved awful fierce Hekat, but god the pacing was horrendous, and that's pretty hard to forgive in a 700 page novel ( )
  ireneattolia | Feb 8, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Karen Millerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cotton, PeterCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timmony, MarkMap bysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyatt, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For Dave Duncan, a scholar, a gentleman, and a damned fine writer. Thanks for all the fabulous reads - and lunch. Here's to many more!
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Despite its two burning lard-lamps the kitchen was dark, its air choked with the stink of rancid goat butter and spoiling goat-meat.
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Sold into slavery, Hekat is taken to Mijak's largest city, where she grows into a beautiful and determined woman, driven by ambition, ingenuity, and fierce dreams of success to become powerful enough to take over as ruler of Mijak.

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Hachette Book Group

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Orbit Books

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