Empire in Black and Gold

Empire in Black and Gold

4.7 16
by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace for decades, bastions of civilization, prosperity and sophistication, protected by treaties, trade and a belief in the reasonable nature of their neighbours.

But meanwhile, in far-off corners, the Wasp Empire has been devouring city after city with its highly trained armies, its machines, it killing Art .


The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace for decades, bastions of civilization, prosperity and sophistication, protected by treaties, trade and a belief in the reasonable nature of their neighbours.

But meanwhile, in far-off corners, the Wasp Empire has been devouring city after city with its highly trained armies, its machines, it killing Art . . . And now its hunger for conquest and war has become insatiable.

Only the ageing Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, can see that the long days of peace are over. It falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people, before a black-and-gold tide sweeps down over the Lowlands and burns away everything in its path.

But first he must stop himself from becoming the Empire's latest victim.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Longtime epic fantasy readers will find many familiar elements in this intriguing debut. There’s the peaceful, vulnerable land, in this case the Lowlands, threatened by the Mongol-like Wasp Empire. The lone man who sees the danger is unwilling Lowlands spymaster Stenwald Maker. A charmingly diverse group of agents and allies draws from most of the strictly delineated insect-themed clans (which rather resemble the character classes of role-playing games) and runs the gamut from naïve student to embittered mercenary. Patriotic but conflicted Wasp Thalric puts a sympathetic face on evil. Tchaikovsky exercises considerable talent in assembling these well-worn pieces into a new puzzle, developing an interesting story and world with humor and skillful prose. Readers may be pleasantly surprised to find themselves looking forward to future installments. (Mar.)
Book Spot Central
Empire in Black and Gold is a very strong debut. It is a fast-paced and action-driven novel that nonetheless leaves plenty of room for character-development. Its primary strength is, however, the highly imaginative world that Tchaikovsky's has created. ...a remarkably strong fantasy debut and I for one am eagerly anticipating the sequels Dragonfly Falling and Blood of the Mantis.
Fantasy Book Critic
'Adrian Tchaikovsky makes a good and enjoyable mix between a medieval looking world and the presence of technology' —Starburst 'Full of colourful drama and non-stop action involving mass warfare and personal combat.'
Graeme's Fantasy Book Review
Empire in Black and Gold has enough going for it to make it one of the most enjoyable books that I've read so far this year. I want more and there's nothing I can do but sit it out and wait...
Library Journal
The Wasp Empire of winged armies now wages a campaign of conquest and destruction along the borders of the Lowlands. Occupying themselves with competitive games and trade, the Lowlands city-states refuse to hear the words of artificer and spymaster Stenwold Maker, who senses the danger posed by the Wasp Empire. Tchaikovsky's first novel exhibits a vibrancy and creative spirit that commands attention. Set in a world where human tribes are identified with totem insects—e.g., messenger Fly-kinden, military-minded Ant-kinden—the story moves quickly between intensely personal interactions and scenes of large-scale battle. VERDICT This original and well-told series opener belongs in most fantasy collections and deserves exposure to a wide audience.

Product Details

Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Publication date:

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Meet the Author

Adrian Tchaikovsky was born in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire before heading off to Reading to study psychology and zoology. For reasons unclear even to himself he subsequently ended up in law and has worked as a legal executive in both Reading and Leeds, where he now lives. Married, he is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor, has trained in stage-fighting, and keeps no exotic or dangerous pets of any kind, possibly excepting his son. Catch up with Adrian at www.shadowsoftheapt.com for further information about both himself and the insect-kinden, together with bonus material including short stories and artwork. Visit shadowsoftheapt.com.

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Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt Series #1) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
MSquared More than 1 year ago
A refreshing new fantasy series. I am a big fan of the traditional Tolkien-Dungeons & Dragons type fantasy, with Elves, Dwarves, Dragons and the sort. But this one is a wholly new idea. Humans with a kind of cultural-mystical connection with insect-arachnid species. Beetle-kinden are industrious artificers who build mechanical devices (like fixed wing flyers, trains, automotive vehicles); Ant-kinden are hive-minded warriors; Mantis-kinden are warriors of an ancient tradition, deadly and efficient; Spider-kinden are seductive manipulators, stalkers and stealth experts...all human, but with characteristics (both physical, and personality-wise) tied to their kinden roots. Adding to this is a steam-punk like technology based nation, exciting fantasy combat, magic & mystical abilities, a rich and thorough history (not unlike the depth created by Tolkien himself)...the book paints a picture like no book I've read in a long time. I want to be immersed in this world, I want to play a role playing game set in this universe, I want to play a video game based on this story, I want to see a movie with these characters brought to life. I just finished this book, and am looking forward to reading the next two in the series.
dalnewt More than 1 year ago
This was a really great read that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy fiction. It's the beginning of a really engaging story arc featuring brilliantly realized main characters, spectacular action (ranging from individual combat to full-scale battles) and fascinating emotional sub-plots. Plus, the world created by Adrian Tchaikovsky (aka Czajkowski) is unbelievably expansive and diverse. I LOVE the insect-kinden. Both the concept and execution are very, very cool. Note, the Insect-kinden are humans whose ancestor tribes forged a mind link to particular (man-sized) insects giving them certain superhuman abilities and physical traits. For instance: Spider-kinden are usually alluring, have calculating/subtle minds and can crawl up any surface; Beetle-kin are stout and stoic with the ability to manipulate mechanicals; Dragonfly-kinden are lithe and good looking with unparalleled flying ability; and, Mantis-kinden are pale and tall with spines on their forearms and unbelievable warrior ability. The book establishes the conflict and world in the first 150 pages, then the characters really come to life. And, the pace just keeps accelerating until the action-packed climax is reached. The character ensemble is composed of: an aging, balding and slightly bulging Beetle-kinden artificer and college master; an embittered mercenary Mantis-kinden weapons master; a mystic Moth-kinden raider; and four young people of various insect-kinden ancestry from the Collegium. Every one of them becomes vividly realized as the book progresses. Even the antagonist, a Wasp-kinden spymaster named Thalric, develops into a complex and arguably sympathetic character. I just received delivery of "Dragonfly Falling" and am awaiting delivery of "Blood Of The Mantis." This first book really enthralled me, and the story arc completely captured my interest.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Since the revolt decades ago that overthrew the ruling Moths, the city-states of the Lowlands have lived in prosperous peace with one another. The Beetles are probably the most powerful, but they prefer trade as merchants and development as engineers over war. The Spiders are the most aristocratic with their lofty attitudes while the Ant cities prefer internal squabbling with one another as to who has the most royal queen. The Flies live a nomadic lifestyle flying all over the Lowlands. Finally the deposed Moths and their foot soldiers Mantids live in the nearby mountains with hopes of returning to power. On the northeastern side of the Great Barrier Ridge is the invincible Wasp Empire. They believe peace can only be achieved through conquest. The Lowlanders ignore the threat as the Beetles are becoming wealthy selling weapons to the Wasps who are at war with the Dragonfly Commonwealth; the ants are too busy with internal fighting; the Moths are angry over losing power; and the Spiders and Flies disregard anything outside their respective lifestyles. Beetle Stenwold Maker fought and lost against the Wasp military defending Myna almost twenty years ago. Few are interested in his warning, as he is considered a crazy victim of battle fatigue. However, he has operatives inside of the cities ready to counter the Wasp agents' subversive activity. His key followers are his Spider foster daughter Tynisa, his Beetle niece Che, the combat hardened Dragonfly royal Salma and Totho the apprentice engineering Beetle. They fly to Helleron on a key mission but may be too late with betrayal and Wasps awaiting their arrival. With a not so subtle message that racism divisiveness leads to everyone losing and is normally not the answer but sometimes is; Adrian Tchaikovsky provides a powerful fantasy that uses various insect species to create his world. The story line is action-packed once the customs of each genus is introduced. Readers will be hooked early on with this terrific opening act as the insects are personified but within their species prime traits. Harriet Klausner
toreadisdivine More than 1 year ago
I picked up Empire in Black and Gold when I was in a bit of a reading slump. I bought it along with Throne of Glass and Hyperbole and a Half. Actually, I think this book has been sitting on my shelf for over six months, waiting to be read. I left it because I was somewhat skeptical that I would really like it, and everything else appealed to my tastes before Empire in Black and Gold. I have to admit now that I was really wrong to put off reading this book. It was waaaaay better than I thought it would be. Empire in Black and Gold is the first book in a ten book epic fantasy series called Shadows of the Apt. It centers around different races, or kinden as they’re known in the book. The kinden are all based on insects, such as the moth kinden, the beetle kinden, the mantis kinden, etc. Each kinden has a different attribute that makes them different from the other races. The older races - e.g. the spider kinden - have their own special Arts. These arts are more based on magic and legends, such as the spider kinden’s Art which helps them manipulate and charm, and the mantis kinden’s martial Art. The younger races - e.g. the beetle kinden - are Apt, and function in tandem with machines, contraptions and logic.  Empire in Black and Gold focuses on the adventures of Stenwold Maker and his young band of spies - his ward Tynisa, the Dragonfly noble Salma, halfbreed Totho and Stenwold’s niece Cheerwell. The Wasp Empire is focused on taking over the Lowlands, and Stenwold knows it. However, no one is willing to listen, and because of this the characters are forced to deal with very difficult situations as they try to save the Lowlands. I found the underlying feud between magic-followers and technology-followers makes the entire premise that much better. Steampunk-esque technology and unwitting allies equal a genius depiction of a rich fantasy world, full of different cultures and their own personal grievances with the other races. The relationships between the characters themselves were also super complex and made me want more. [spoiler] The relationship between Che and Achaeos is adorable and made me want to hug them forever!![/spoiler] The ending was fast-paced and just one heck of a battle as befits a fantasy book. You need a good battle in a good fantasy novel - it’s just a requirement. I can’t wait to read the next book! In summary, Empire in Black and Gold is creative with a well-constructed world. Tchaikovsky immerses the reader in this complicated setting within a chapter, and creates diverse and interesting characters who have a hint of magic. I love magic, and this book is great for including magic without depending on it as a plot healer. The history is interesting, and the relationships are complex and real. The only small problem I had was that it started a bit slow, but the rest of the book makes up for it. I’m giving Empire in Black and Gold four and a half stars out of five, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes epic fantasy.
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This book never slows down. It is action packed and well written. The magic system is orginal as is the different races of bug/people. A must read and if you do pick it up, good luck putting it down.
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