Series: Empirium #1
Author: Claire Legrand
Date Published: May 22nd 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA Fantasy
When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first. One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire's heart is more terrible than she ever imagined. As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other.
The style of this book is unlike any other I have ever read. We have two POVs throughout the book, alternating chapters between Rielle and Eliana’s POV, but what makes this unique is that Rielle’s chapters take place 1000 years before Eliana’s. Even before we start, the prologue essentially tells us how Rielle’s story ends, as well as the origin of Eliana’s story. This setup means that we know how Rielle’s story ends, and what the events in her chapters mean for the world. It’s an incredibly interesting way to set up the book. Eliana is set in the world all these centuries after Rielle lived, it’s so long ago that the events of Rielle’s chapters are a sort of myth to Eliana. Rielle lives in a world where the empirium (the magic) is present and people can wield the empirium in ways specific to their class of magic. Eliana however lives when the empirium is no longer around or accessible.
I really loved that we essentially get spoilers for Rielle’s life as in Eliana’s time everyone knows how her story ended. Even so, I was very interested in Rielle and her power. We get to see her life change completely as she continuously tries to prove herself whilst also resenting the fact that she has to do that. Rielle’s story gives us the origin story of how the world ends up as it does in Eliana’s time.
To start with, it takes a bit of time to connect with both women but once you do they both have interesting chapters, and each chapter drives the story forward and offers new information or plays an important role in the storytelling. It took me a while to get used to the style of alternating chapters from two completely different story/ timelines as it essentially means every chapter ends on a cliff-hanger. I can see how this style wouldn’t be for everyone, but I think it was excellently done and such a unique way to tell the story I could help but be invested in the book.
Eliana’s chapters give us insight into life as it is currently in the world and so her chapters give us surprise after surprise. Eliana isn’t a character I liked particularly as she is only concerned about herself and her family in a world where everyone needs help, she cares about no one. However, as time went on, we get to see Eliana open up more and then I start to like her a lot more. I enjoyed the story of both POVs and they both gave me a lot of new questions that meant I had to immediately start the next book! Despite knowing the outcome of Rielle’s story – told to us in the prologue – I feel like so much more was going on than we’re told and it's very intriguing to see the details and truth of what happened from Rielle’s point of view. And of course, in Eliana’s time, we see a world at war that needs someone to fight for it, so it’s very interesting seeing Eliana handle everything.
The writing was excellent, very layered with a lot of depth in every aspect, the characters, the plot, the world-building. However, it wasn’t overcomplicated, and it is easy to read whilst still feeling very high fantasy. The world-building for both time periods was fantastic, and the two time periods feel so very different which shows how much the world has changed, so I think the author did that very well. The antagonist was incredibly interesting, and I loved their interacting with our MC, and that we never quite knew where we stood or what would happen next was very gripping. I thought the concept of the empirium (magic) and how that was used as a new take on elemental magic was great and it fitted in very well with the world. Overall, I think the book was excellently done, and every aspect was clearly so well thought out to be able to have so much linking with such a massive time jump. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a unique high fantasy book series.
Rating: 4 Stars