I recently buddy read with the awesome Social Book Club a new diverse sci-fi fantasy! Yes, I’m talking about “Empress of a Thousand Skies”.
I was really excited to pick up this book, but sadly – as it happens sometimes, the book wasn’t everything I expected it to be. From what I could tell, from our 15 people buddy chat, this book is a hit or miss. Some people got into it a totally loved it, while others (like me) had trouble reading through it.
Thanks to SocialBookCo.com for providing me a copy for book club and review purposes!
Empress of a Thousand Skies
by Rhoda Belleza
Publication Date: February 7, 2017.
Goodreads Rating: 3.47 stars (2,039 Ratings)
My Rating: 2.5 stars (⋆ ⋆ ⋆)
CROWN PRINCESS RHIANNON TA’AN WANTS VENGEANCE.
The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.
ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.
Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.
The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.
In this exhilarating debut for fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, RHODA BELLEZA crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.
I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, because it’s a genre that usually doesn’t call me… but when I saw the synopsis (AND THE COVER!) of Empress of a Thousand Skies, I knew this was a book I HAD to read!
The book alternates between two POVs, which I LOVE if executed properly, and this book nails it! This story is about a princess, Rhee/Rhiannon, who is seeking vengeance from the people that murdered her family. She’s been living sheltered ever since her family was murdered, but now she’s of age and will finally claim the throne… OR SO SHE THINKS! It is said that Rhiannon has been murdered, and that’s where our second main character comes in; Alyosha, a reality show star -and a refugee- who’s framed as the mastermind behind Rhee’s murder.
Our setting? Space, obviously. But there wasn’t much detail put into the world building. I understood a lot about how the different groups worked and their political issues. There’s also a device (cubes) where people can store their memories and use it to replay them or even modify them! That’s a very scary weapon. Which obviously leads to leaders starting wars for said weapon…
Although the story revolves around Rhee, her character wasn’t one that intrigued me. Sure, she’s been a sheltered girl all her life, and now she’s finally out into the world (well, the universe) and she’s growing and learing, but I couldn’t connect with her at all. We don’t know much of her, and although we learn some things as the book goes, we just don’t get enough backstory to feel connected to our main character.
On the other hand, Alyosha, was a very intriguing character. He’s definitely my favorite character in the book! He’s had to deal with racism. He’s been called savage. He’s a refugee, so of course he’s been discriminated against! Doesn’t matter that he’s a famous reality TV star, he’s still framed for a murder because he fits the mold the racist leader is pursuing. I think the book touches the topic of racism and white privilege when we see the interactions between Alyosha and Vic (his white best friend / reality TV companion) and it is done in a very interesting way.
I really love the concept of the book, and THAT EPILOGUE! (Totally loved it!) but I wish the book didn’t just throw you into the story without some backstory… so many things are unknown and so many things had me confused. This book had me on a deep reading slump, it took me almost a month to finish it! I kept putting it off because I felt lost on the story.
But don’t let my rating fool you, I will still read the sequel, because like I said… I really loved the concept of the book… and I believe the story has a lot of potential for a strong second book.
Overall rating: 2.5 stars