Seven Deaths of an Empire
The Emperor is dead. Long live the Empire. General Bordan has a lifetime of duty and sacrifice behind him in the service of the Empire. But with rebellion brewing in the countryside, and assassins, thieves and politicians vying for power in the city, it is all Bordan can do to protect the heir to the throne. Apprentice Magician Kyron is assigned to the late Emperor’s honour guard escorting his body on the long road back to the capital. Mistrusted and feared by his own people, even a magician’s power may fail when enemies emerge from the forests, for whoever is in control of the Emperor’s body, controls the succession. Seven lives and seven deaths to seal the fate of the Empire.
Matthews (Silent City) launches his Six Kingdoms series with a page-turning dark fantasy that kicks off with the sudden death of the Emperor of Sudrim while he's away on a mission. From within the imperial palace, General Bordan, the leader of the Empire's army, oversees the operation to return the Emperor's body to his family, and with it the amulet "which contains his soul and wisdom" to be passed down to Sudrim's next ruler. Meanwhile, apprentice magician Kyron co-leads the convoy escorting the Emperor's remains. But enemies from within and without stand in the way, among them assassins who aim to dispatch the royal family and tribesmen whose lands the convoy must cross. After two members of the royal family are slain in the palace, a battle erupts between the imperial army and the traitors attempting to hijack Kyron's caravan and steal the amulet. Interweaving Bordan's and Kyron's narratives, Matthews builds suspense with hints of treason and treachery among the Empire's nobility. Though it takes some time to acclimate to Matthews's visceral world, the plot's surprising twists and turns will wow fantasy fans. This is an impressive series opener.