Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.I won a copy of The Emperor's Edgeby Lindsay Buroker and it is a wonderful fantasy romp. Buroker is one of a growing list of indie authors I'm following and love to read. She's definitely an author to keep an eye on with her strong writing, clean and thorough editing.
Worse, Sicarius, the empire's most notorious assassin is in town. He's tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills... or someone wants her dead.
Buroker's world building was solid without burdening the story and had a bit of a steampunk feel. Where Buroker shined was in her characters. They were all fully developed, even the secondary ones, and I had a good sense of their motivations.
The heroine, Amaranthe, started out as a 'by the books' officer but as the story progressed she had to change and grow. She was a strong female character who could fight her way out of a mess if she had to but was just as likely to talk her way out of trouble. She becomes the leader of her little band of misfits somewhat out of default, another layer to her character as she struggled to fit into that role.
The hero (anti-hero?), Sicarius, was everything you could wish for in an assassin. I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding him that we learn bit by bit along with the heroine. Buroker did a masterful job of making me sympathize with Sicarius though arguably he's more villain than hero.
I loved the banter between these two characters. It often stole the show for me. Add to that the diverse characters within Amaranthe's gang and there were times I laughed out loud. This is a fantasy so I wasn't expecting a romance to develop between the leads yet I could see where their respect and friendship might someday lead in that direction.
The Emperor's Edge stands alone beautifully. The story questions are answered yet enough are left unanswered to allow for more in this world. And I really hope Buroker has more stories planned. There is a short story, Ice Cracker II, that picks up after The Emperor's Edge ended in a kind of Epilogue. Both are well worth the read.