“Honor, loyalty, bravery. Revenge.”
Empress of a Thousand Skies is definitely a fast paced adventure from the very first page until the end of the book, without a boring moment in between. In fact, you really have to try your hardest to keep up with what is going on so you don’t get lost, because there’s so much happening at any given time that is completely vital to the story. I’ve seen this book being called a space opera, and to be honest, if it is an accurate description, it’s the first of its kind that I’ve read, and I really enjoyed it!
Princess Rhiannon is the last of the Ta’an family, and while they have been ruling for generations, she is the only one left – her parents and older sister Joss died when she was younger. However, just when she believed that she would have the chance to rule as planned, a close family friend, and member of her guard, tries to kill her. Surviving the attack, Rhee decides that she not only must avenge her family’s deaths, but she must seek revenge for the man who ordered her killed, as well. Rhee will do everything in her power to make this happen, including changing her appearance and allowing everyone to believe that she has, indeed, been killed.
Alyosha is one of the stars of a popular DroneVision show, and he is used to being in the spotlight. However, when he is falsely accused to killing Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, he must do what he can to prove that he is innocent, even if it means putting his life on the line and going into hiding to the best of his ability. Aly loses some he cares about, as well as teams up with someone who might help him, finding out horrifying things along the way. Trying to clear his name is proving to be quite difficult, and Aly might need all the help he can get.
Rhiannon’s character is made out to be this independent, fearless type from the very beginning, with the desire to seek out revenge on the person who caused her family’s death.
“There were two things for certain: that her family had been murdered, and that she was supposed to have died at their side.”
Essentially, the fact that Rhiannon survived isn’t going down well with someone, as she was supposed to have died with the rest of them, causing the entire line of Ta’ans to die out. However, when Rhee survived, that wouldn’t do – instead, she murders the man who tries to kill her, cuts off her hair, and sends it as a warning message to the man she knows is responsible. Talk about badass. I loved Rhee’s character from the very beginning of the book.
Aly’s character was interesting as well – falsely accused of murdering the princess, he is forced to come up with a way to clear his name so that he might go on with his life instead of being punished for a crime he didn’t commit.
One of the things I thought was interesting about Empress of a Thousand Skies was the emphasis that is put on the Cube, which is an online network that essentially records daily life and keeps a log of your memories, both good and bad, that you can sort through and actually watch again whenever you’d like. This is a really neat idea and added a bit to the story, especially when the characters were trying to stay undercover so they couldn’t be tracked. It added a big science fiction boost to the book, and really made gave me something to think about – I mean, how far off are we from something like this? It’s kind of a neat thing to think about.
The diversity of the characters in this book is also something to mention. It’s done so very well, and blends in so well with the story that allows you to note it, but it isn’t overdone in a way that it’s constantly reminding you that the characters are not all the same race or have the same kinds of traits. I wish more books featured diversity in such a perfect way as this one.
The ending was a nice touch, as well, and it wasn’t really something I was expecting.
From the synopsis of the book, I thought that there was going to be some scenes actually involving Rhiannon and Alyosha together, so I was kind of bummed that they had two different story lines going. The chapters are told from alternating viewpoints of both of them, though, so that was a really nice touch. It was easy to really connect with both characters since it was written this way.
If you enjoy YA science fiction, you really should check this one out. Aside from that stunning cover, this book is so well written and will keep you entertained the entire way through!
About the Author
Rhoda Belleza was raised in Los Angeles, where she grew up writing X-Filesfanfiction and stuffing her face with avocados. She’s a children’s editor at a publishing house and writes from a sunny Brooklyn apartment stuffed with far too many bikes and far too many shoes. When she’s not writing, Rhoda obsesses over nail art tutorials, watches kung fu movies, and sews together crooked things that pass for clothes. Empress of a Thousand Skies is her debut novel. Follow her on Twitter @rhodabee.
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