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'Brian Staveley’s storytelling gets more epic with every book, and The Empire’s Ruin takes it to a whole new level' – Pierce Brown, author of Red Rising
The Empire's Ruin is the first book in the epic fantasy Ashes of the Unhewn Throne trilogy by Brian Staveley. If you liked Game of Thrones, you'll love this.
One soldier will bear the hopes of an empire
The Kettral were the glory and despair of the Annurian Empire – elite soldiers who rode war hawks into battle. Now the Kettral’s numbers have dwindled and the great empire is dying. Its grip is further weakened by the failure of the kenta gates, which granted instantaneous access to its vast lands.
To restore the Kettral, one of its soldiers is given a mission. Gwenna Sharpe must voyage beyond the edge of the known world, to the mythical nesting grounds of the giant war hawks. The journey will take her through a land that warps and poisons all living things. Yet if she succeeds, she could return a champion, rebuild the Kettral to their former numbers – and help save the empire. The gates are also essential to the empire’s survival, and a monk turned con-artist may hold the key to unlocking them.
What they discover will change them and the Annurian Empire forever – if they survive. For deep within the southern reaches of the land, a malevolent force is stirring . . .
'Epic in every sense of the word' – Nicholas Eames, author of Kings of the Wyld
'An aching, bruised, white-knuckled symphony' – Max Gladstone, author of This Is How You Lose the Time War
Three intertwined tales reveal the cracks of a dying empire in this grim, disappointing epic fantasy, which returns to the world of Staveley's Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series to launch the Ashes of the Unhewn Throne series. Gwenna Sharpe, a disgraced former commander of the empire's elite warriors, is sent on a mission to a treacherous continent to retrieve the eggs of a rare species of gargantuan birds used as military transports. Meanwhile, Ruc Lakatur Lan Lac and Bien Qui Nai, priests of an unpopular religion, are forced into arena combat as sacrifices to gods they don't believe in. And monk-turned-thief Akiil plans to con Emperor Adare herself with the promise that he can teach her the secrets of powerful portals called kenta. Despite complex politics and conflicting cultures, the characters are simplistic and unmotivated, and their relationships to one another feel uninspired. Few surprises and little suspense along the way does nothing to make it easier to root for the protagonists. Fans of Staveley's other works will enjoy revisiting the world and appreciate the appearance of familiar characters, but this ambitious trio of adventures falls flat and lacks heart.