Review Sunday: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza (#1)

Empress of a Thousand Skies #1
Duology to date
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.”

This was good.  It just wasn’t as good as I thought it would be.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’m a self-professed cover snob and when I saw this cover, I knew I had to read it because it’s just so gorgeous!  (seriously bookstagram material right there) But I just didn’t find the inside to be as interesting and rich as the outside.

“Survival, it turned out, wasn’t the same as living.”

1.  The characters.  Overall, the characters were okay.  There were a few that I really liked because of their grayness (Dahlen, Rhee’s guide, is great here) but the rest were just characters.  They’re the kind of characters that you’ll forget the names of as soon as you finish the last page.  Enjoyable, but not memorable.  The two main characters, Rhee and Aly, are good and they do have their own character arcs, but I just felt like they were missing something.  There’s that X factor characters have that give them good, tangible feeling and Rhee and Aly just didn’t have it.  I just needed more.

“She was seen as something delicate, a thing to be preserved and protected until she came of age to rule. But Rhiannon had other plans.”

2.  The plot.  This follows a bit of the same vein as the characters.  I wasn’t really sucked into this book and while the action was artfully drawn, I couldn’t make myself become really invested.  The author really takes pains to not follow the traditional arc of a two-POV novel, though, as it seems she prefers to have the two POV’s dance around each other rather than truly intertwine which is what I expected from the blurb (I apologize for the abstract language but I want to keep this as spoiler free as possible!  Generally, just like with the characters, I wanted more.

“Most people thought only of their own comfort and convenience.”

3.  The world.  Again, I just wanted more here.  The book has sort of a Star Wars-esque feel which I thought I’d really enjoy because I’m a fan of Star Wars and all the different worlds that mesh together.  However, while the author did introduce many different races of people (I suppose possibly even species), they weren’t fleshed out enough for my taste.  I think this book could have easily reached 410 pages and have been better for it.  The set-up in the beginning is really good but then it just drops off a bit and there’s a lot of telling instead of showing.

“There’s another way in, Aly, Always a way in, always a way out.”

4.  The romance.  This is the one element I was pleasantly surprised by.  I thought the romance the author set up was a nice subplot that didn’t detract at all from the main arc and actually supplemented it in places.  I’ve read too many YA fantasy and scifi books that allow the romance to take over the story by controlling the characters actions more than the actual events do.  I’m not going to say too much more because of spoilers but I’ll just say this: I’m hoping that this situation doesn’t turn into a love triangle because the romance as is stands is a lovely, slow-blooming flower that I love. (and yes I just used a reluctant flower metaphor, I’M SORRY)

“An entire universe full of stars and planets, and not a single one that would hold her.”

The Final Verdict:
A slightly forgettable and underdeveloped YA scifi that just isn’t for me.
3 stars
Will I continue the series?
Probably not.  I’ll put the next one on my TBR in the off chance I see it at the library, but I don’t think I’ll seek out the next book anytime soon.

Talk to me!  Have you read this?  What did you think of it?  Have you read any good space scifi’s recently (I need recommendations to wipe this one from my mind!)?  How do you feel about long descriptions of multiple cultures in books?

0 thoughts on “Review Sunday: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza (#1)”

  1. I tried reading this one around this time last year, and just couldn't really get into it. I also liked how the two POVs danced around each other, but like you said, the X factor was just missing. I ended up just DNFing it, and I don't think I'm going to pick it back up. Let's hope we both enjoy our next read! 😀


  2. I wish I had your powers of DNFing, Genni! That would have saved me so much time. From the blurb, it just seemed like it was only uphill from the beginning but it turns out it didn't really get any better. Haha I'll toast to that! Thanks for stopping by 🙂


  3. Yeah… I was just expecting something much more spectacular and lush based on the cover (really, I need to stop putting so much stock into covers…). I believe it is the author's novel debut (she's published at least one short story before this was released in 2012) so it could very well improve as the series progresses. I really wish my TBR was a bit shorter because then I'd be more apt to continue with it but as it stands, I need to start prioritizing a little more. Maybe I'll put it up a little higher on the list if the next book gets better ratings from the bloggers I follow. Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie!


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