Customer Reviews for

The Emperor's Knife

Average Rating 3.5
( 195 )
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5 Star

(63)

4 Star

(39)

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(45)

2 Star

(23)

1 Star

(25)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

23 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

Gripping novel by a talented new writer

This novel, set in a fantasy land which could be central Asia before the rise of Islam (but isn't), is peopled by a cast of finely drawn characters who bring the action forward briskly. The writing is taught, the plot not artificially complicated, and, in spite of being...
This novel, set in a fantasy land which could be central Asia before the rise of Islam (but isn't), is peopled by a cast of finely drawn characters who bring the action forward briskly. The writing is taught, the plot not artificially complicated, and, in spite of being fantasy, is logical, one event building securely upon the last. The villain is a disease, and the story unfolds with the action various characters perform, often at odds with one another, in their quest to find a cure or conceal its depredations. The character of Sarmin develops over the story arc, from an inexperienced young man held hostage for years into a -- well you'll see if you read the book. This reviewer is an avid reader, and can recognize good writing. This novel is on a par with Gaiman, Martin and the rest. Williams has hit the bulls eye on his first attempt.

posted by ffred1932 on November 4, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

37 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

3.5

This one's hard to judge for me. On the one hand, I couldn't put it down and know I'll buy the next one. At the same time, over and over again the character's actions felt forced, too fast. Not that anyone ever acted in a way I didn't think was plausible...eventually....
This one's hard to judge for me. On the one hand, I couldn't put it down and know I'll buy the next one. At the same time, over and over again the character's actions felt forced, too fast. Not that anyone ever acted in a way I didn't think was plausible...eventually. But the change of heart, the bold, brave decision, the sacrafice, whatever usually happened without enough set up. All of a sudden the decision was made without any debate or struggle. It was very frustrating, especially because the first half had felt a bit slow, and the last half tumbled along far too fast to be satisfying or feel like anything but skimming on the surface, only touching the most important parts and ignoring everything that should stitch them together.

That said, the story and early character development was good enough that, at the end, my overall feeling is that I enjoyed it and want to know what happens next.

posted by LeahPetersen on June 16, 2012

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  • Posted November 4, 2011

    Gripping novel by a talented new writer

    This novel, set in a fantasy land which could be central Asia before the rise of Islam (but isn't), is peopled by a cast of finely drawn characters who bring the action forward briskly. The writing is taught, the plot not artificially complicated, and, in spite of being fantasy, is logical, one event building securely upon the last. The villain is a disease, and the story unfolds with the action various characters perform, often at odds with one another, in their quest to find a cure or conceal its depredations. The character of Sarmin develops over the story arc, from an inexperienced young man held hostage for years into a -- well you'll see if you read the book. This reviewer is an avid reader, and can recognize good writing. This novel is on a par with Gaiman, Martin and the rest. Williams has hit the bulls eye on his first attempt.

    23 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 19, 2012

    Very enjoyable new author

    I am an avid reader and am always on the lookout for new authors in the field and this is one to look forward to. The characters and world building were top notch and I am looking forward to continue reading in this world.

    I would have given five stars but the ending of this first segment was a little trite and I saw it coming from a long way off, but still a very good read.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2012

    A good read

    I thought it was a pretty good book. It was a little slow getting going but I think it was because of all the characters involved. It was definitely worth the read though.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2011

    Enjoyable, filled with potential!

    3.9 stars.
    The Emperor's Knife is a good book, but it is not a fantastic book. The best thing about this book is how it gives at least four very different characters enough time and sufficient voice to introduce and explain themselves to us. And you need to understand them if you hope to understand the book.
    Its strongest point has to be the intricate court politics that keeps the reader on tenterhooks as a coup, many years in planning, is finally carried out.
    The Emperor's Knife is Eyul, an assassin chosen in his boyhood because of his inability to take a life out of vengeance. He was given the Knife to wield, to carry out the Emperor's will and only he could ever spill royal blood without damnation.
    In the very first chapter we watch as he carries out a dead king's last command and earns the hatred of two young princes.
    The most intriguing idea that this novel explores is that of a prince kept a prisoner in a high tower (Rapunzel, anyone?) from the day his father dies to his manhood, with only his mother an occasional (if cold and distant) visitor. Sarmin is the spare, kept alive in case something happened to his elder brother, the boy-king - Beyon.
    They live in a land plagued by inexplicable marks that appear suddenly on a body and takes over ones soul.
    In a distant land, in a tribe that prepares to ally itself to Beyon's empire as they ready for a war, the chief's daughter is promised in marriage to the Emperor's brother. But Mesema knows nothing about the patterns that plague the Cerani kingdom, nor of the tradition that demands the lives of young princes when their brother ascends the throne.
    And finally there is Tuivani. A cousin to the Emperor, a keen eyed Vizier, a patriot in his own way and an unwitting tool in the hands of the Pattern Master as he spins a web that will soon unseat Beyon and bring the empire to his own feet.
    Sarmin, Eyul, Tuivani and Mesema are the eyes that tell the tale from their own corners. Sometimes their paths intersect and information is exchanged, but most of the time they are each stumbling around blindly as they try to make best of situations thrust at them.
    Tuivani is the man who kept Sarmin imprisoned most of his life, for he feared that a living brother might have the Emperor's ears more than a distant cousin and adviser could. He whispered the wisdom of keeping the prince segregated in Beyon's ears and Beyon - strong and weak - listened and hated him for it.
    But I couldn't hate Tuivani. Individually the characters are given so much soul, so much complexity that I came away with an odd sense of empathy for each of them.
    Unfortunately, when the characters interacted this wonderful complexity fell short of what it could have been. There were dramatics, but suddenly all the feelings went missing.
    Sarmin and Mesema spent a better part of the book imagining what the other might be like and yet when they did meet, it was a sadly flat union.
    The world created is rather fascinating. The rituals and traditions, intriguing. The magic is curious and divergent, and the palace's wariness of the Tower of the Mages is understandable. But the Tower has kept the empire protected and so it must stand. The Cerani empire is the picture of a once great kingdom rotting and leaning towards its downfall despite the apparent prosperity of the nobility (Think: fall of Rome).
    I'll read the next two installments, of course, though this book stands alone and complete all by itself - the end, ex

    7 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Intriguingly Twisty, good read

    The Empire, with its capital in the city of Nooria, is the strongest power around. Beyon, the emperor, was brought to power one blood-soaked night when, after the death of his father, all his brothers were killed in order to prevent any problems with the dynasty. Well, all but one ¿ Sarmin was kept alive, as a back-up. It appears that this was a good thing, because there is a terrible disease that is sweeping through the Empire, one marked by patterns appearing on the victim¿s skin. Those who succumb either become mindless and obey the commands of the mysterious Pattern Master, or die a terrible death. And Beyon ¿ is Marked. In the midst of treachery, betrayal, and fighting over power and position, what will happen to the two brothers? Who is the Pattern Master, and what is his ultimate goal? And will anyone survive his terrible plague?

    ¿The Emperor¿s Knife¿ is a very complex and interesting story, a high fantasy with aspects of suspense. The twists and turns just keep on coming and it is impossible to know who to trust or who to believe. The characters¿ development is done very well, and the plot moves quickly from one point of view to another, which at times left me a bit confused. By maintaining careful focus while reading the story, it is possible to keep up with everything, however, and the careful reader is rewarded with many subtle subplots. Fans of high fantasy and the sort of intricate, twisting plots often found in spy novels should enjoy this book.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2013

    Good Book

    Once I got a hold on the authors writing style it wasn't at all confusing or hard to read.

    I enjoyed the fact that it was familiar with the ideas of different factions and cultural differences. However it was its own tale and not just a knock off of some other story. I hate it when a popular story gets recycled and slightly altered just so a author can ride on another authors success.

    Could the book been a little smoother? Sure, but it was still a good enough read for me.

    I'm looking forward to reading book two.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

    Engrossing fantasy novel

    I picked up this book on a whim as part of the "free Fridays" promotion.

    It is a fantasy novel ... in a vaguely Middle Eastern setting ... with magic. But hear me out! There is a web of political intrigue and a shadowy enemy of the Empire. The novel raises questions of racism and religious difference. As the story plays out, alliances shift and the reader begins to wonder who is really loyal to whom, and who can be trusted. I even began to question whether the Empire is worth saving.

    One character seems to have a personality transplant about three-quarters of the way into the book. Another unfortunate aspect is the paucity of strong female characters.

    This would be a worthy novel from an established author. For a first novel, it is outstanding. I hope the author continues to perfect his craft.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This was a wonderful change in a Fantasy world.  The story was f

    This was a wonderful change in a Fantasy world.  The story was full of twists and turns that often leave you wondering
    how it that could happen.  The characters are diverse and full of promise.  This book is hard to put down once your eyes 
    start taking in the maze.   Enjoy the ride.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2013

    bizarre story

    I kind of liked it, once I looked past the out of sync dialogue. It's a dark story with some interesting supernatural ideas. Not a kid's book. The author jumps around a bit too much for my taste, but it's not too hard to follow. It has a good satisfying ending. I'll probably read the next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    Good fast reading adventure!

    This book is well written and fairly fast paced,only seems a bit slow where the author,by necessity,creates the physical background of the world and politics of the area.I enjoyed it and look forward to the next book of the trilogy. I appreciated the way this volume could stand on it's own. I would recommend it for junior high level and older reading adventure lovers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2013

    An Enjoyable Read

    I truly enjoyed reading The Emperor's Knife, and couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. For some reason, I never fully felt fully invested in the characters. Instead, it was the story itself that drew me in. The writing was good enough to want to read the next book where I hope the characters are given a little more dimension.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2013

    A Great Read

    I found this book a little difficult to follow in the beginning, but if you stick with it, you won't be disappointed.

    lmr - chicago

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2013

    Very inreresring. Enjoyable

    I always like immersing nyself in a world with both similarity and subtle differences from ours.
    The trick is learning the rules. Each chatacter in this story helps weave the finished tapestry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2013

    Solid

    Believable characters make their way through a trecherous world. Fun and intimidating magic. Second book here I come.

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  • Posted May 31, 2013

    Good Read

    Interesting book. I don't normally read fantasy, but this was good.

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  • Posted May 29, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Slightly different than your regular fantasy fiction.

    Starts out slow but picks up the pace as you become familiar with the characters, histories, and understand the plot twists that happen. Somewhat formulaic but keeps you going.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 24, 2013

    Good reaad, read it!

    Good book for a rainy day!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2013

    long read

    interesting but long

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    Wht would happen

    Does anyone know what would happen if a friend of mine looked at something he did not know was illegal in his state on his nook

    0 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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