The Weeping Empress by Sadie S Forsythe
|The Weeping Empress by Sadie S Forsythe|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A manga-like novel in which a displaced heroine battles both inner and outer demons in an attempt to thwart her destiny. Enjoyably direct and energetic with a satisfying, if well-worn, plot. Sadie popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 252||Date: December 2011|
|External links: Author's website|
Chiyo wakes up with the sun in her face and the grass at her back. For a moment, she feels almost as though she's in heaven. But the joy in the moment is short-lived. Around her is mayhem. Uniformed guards are fighting off two rogue warriors intent on freeing a band of captives. Before she knows it, Chiyo is fighting alongside the warriors, showing a ferocity the meek and mild wife and mother never knew she had.
Chiyo's previous life is gone forever. Transported to Dashkalil, forced into banditry and notoriety, and hunted by both the Emperor and an enigmatic cult, she must bury the grief for what she has lost. But Chiyo is not alone: on her side are the two samurai, Muhjah and Senka, and Salvation, the sword that fits her perfectly...
I loved the first few pages of The Weeping Empress. Forsythe has the confidence to forgo scene- and plot-setting. The reader simply arrives in an unfamiliar world at exactly the same time Chiyo does and needs to hit the ground running just as she does. We don't know how or why she has arrived in Dashkalil, only that to survive, she must fight. Fuller details about this new world come very slowly throughout the first chapters, so the reader's attention is set solely on Chiyo's - violent - present. It's a great way to start a book featuring a displaced heroine and my attention was caught and held admirably well.
The interactions between Chiyo and the two rogue samurai are fascinating and the relationships between the three are the focus that holds this story together. The manga-like setting is well-drawn. And, without giving too much away, I enjoyed the treatment of religion, which maintains a clever balance between scheming and manipulative and heroism and sacrifice.
The main theme is destiny, I suppose, and whether anyone can ever avoid it. And, as Chiyo's destiny bears remorselessly down on her, Forsythe also explores grief and loss and the nature of evil. What makes a man a violent monster? Does power necessarily corrupt? These are well-worn themes and The Weeping Empress offers little in the way of new insights, but Forsythe is careful to refine her characters so that the distinction between good and evil is always a little blurred. Readers who enjoy these familiar paths will recognise the tropes and appreciate the energetic pace of this enjoyable novel. I certainly did.
It's a YA novel, but if The Weeping Empress appeals to you, I think you might also enjoy Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye by Alison Goodman, a completely gorgeous fantasy set in an ancient Oriental world, drawing on Chinese myths and tradition. Complex, vivid, and with themes of difference, it's a classy, classy read.
You can read more book reviews and buy The Weeping Empress by Sadie S Forsythe at Amazon
Sadie S Forsythe was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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