REVIEW: Empress by Karen Miller

REVIEW: Empress by Karen MillerEmpress (Godspeaker Trilogy #1) by Karen Miller
Published: Orbit Books (2007), eBook, 717pg
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Source: Bought


Summary:

Her name is Hekat--
And she will be slave to no man.

In a family torn apart by poverty and violence, Hekat is no more than an unwanted mouth to feed, worth only a few coins from a passing slave trader.

But Hekat was not born to be a slave. For her, a different path has been chosen. It is a path that will take her from stinking back alleys to the house of her god, from blood-drenched battlefields to the glittering palaces of Mijak.

This is the story of Hekat, slave to no man. (from Goodreads)

Buy on Amazon | Goodreads

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I got this during last month’s $1 Orbit sale, and then somehow forgot about it until last week. I started reading it and couldn’t stop, even though I had a paper to write for school. It’s seriously good!

I wasn’t really expecting anything when I started reading, but honestly, the first chapter alone shocked me. It’s got rape, domestic abuse, child abuse, slavery, and many other messed-up things, and it gets worse as the book goes on. Religion plays a huge part, and it’s the kind of religion with blood sacrifices and self-flagellation and smitings, and while it hasn’t escalated into human sacrifices (that I remember, anyway), it does seem to be right on the edge of it. However, the book isn’t vulgar, which I appreciated, and the writing was so good that I felt compelled to keep reading even as I kept thinking “ew, ew, ew.”

It’s a long book, but it never really felt long to me until around…page 400? Or whatever the equivalent from my ebook to the paper book is. At that point, a lot of the dialogue and situations got repetitive, I started noticing some run-on sentences, and some of the new characters introduced were a little boring. Time wasn’t spent on them, or the events, as maybe it would have been spent earlier in the book, and I think the narrative started to fall apart a bit. I think that the next two books will make up for that, though, so I’m not really worried about it.

Hekat was a complicated character, although not a likable one. I really wanted to like her, even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to (somewhere around reading chapter 4 I snuck a peek at an interview with Karen Miller that says just that); in fact, I could pinpoint exactly when I actively started to dislike her. I suppose what I really wanted to do was empathize with her situation and her character, but, um, that didn’t happen. I just kinda feel bad for her, and I hope someone bumps her off because she’s bad news and a lot of the problems in the book come from her. But then– without those problems we wouldn’t have a book! So.

The religion thing was intense and I have a few problems with it, mainly that I’ve never been into crusades and that part of the book made me really uncomfortable. I never understood how people don’t seem to think about these sort of things. Like: God A is my god, and it’s awesome and all-powerful and everywhere, and it wants to be your god too except it’s never talked to you or even been in your country before? Um, wouldn’t that mean that maybe God A is not all-powerful? That maybe there’s other gods? And that maybe your god is crazy? I dunno. Maybe they thought demons where blocking the god-thought waves, or something.

I’m sure someone has a semi-reasonable explanation for this that would make sense to a non-religious person like myself, but right now I’m just kinda annoyed that no-one in Empress has the ability or even a willingness to dump their god and get a better one. Or to even be an atheist! It treats them like crap, and yet they’re all “Ooo, please keep treating me like crap some more!” And sure, it might be because they’re afraid of being smited, but some of the so-called god-driven things in the books seemed a little suspect to me. It might really be the god smiting people and talking inside your head, sure, but it might also be that you’re crazy and the godspeakers (priests who do the smitings) simply have access better technology than you. Y’know?

Okay, I wanna get off this religious thing, now. It’s going nowhere and I’m not even sure if I’m making sense. Moving on!

I really did have a good time reading Empress, though it was long and kinda depressing, and I ended up buying the next two books in the trilogy. I haven’t quite worked up the nerve to start reading them, yet, but I do plan on it!

Read: April 2009

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