Title: Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhonda Belleza
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Fantasy
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars. Good!
Empress of a Thousand Skies follows the narratives of two characters, Rhee, the last heir to the Kalusian throne, and Aly, a Wraetan refugee working for the Kalu Army. The two characters are like Moons, their narratives orbiting around the same plot and narrowly missing colliding into each other at a couple of points. Rhee has been preparing for her accent to the throne for years and focused on getting revenge for her family’s death but is hindered by an attack on her life. Believed to be dead by the galaxy, she tries to unravel who her true enemy is and how to take back her throne. Aly has spent the last couple of years trying to make people forget he is a refugee and is pulled into the story when he is framed for the princesses murder, all he wants to do is prove his innocence to the galaxy but every step he takes pulls him farther and farther into a political battle he never asked for. Around them, their worlds are going to war, and the only thing that can stop it is them succeeding on their journeys.
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.
Like it? Love it? Hate it?
I liked it! I was unsure about reading it because I assumed it being set in space meant it would be too sci-fi for my preferences but it is more YA Fantasy than Sci-fi. I thought the interweaving of two different narratives was very clever and there were a couple of surprises that kept be interested. The story includes some contemporary themes like Xenophobia, thinly veiled and accepted forms of racism, prejudices and a strong focus on extreme nationalism but I can’t be the only POC who is tired of darker skin being the oppressed group. It’s fantasy, couldn’t the refugees be blue or something. But that isn’t why It didn’t get a “Love” vote from me. I just didn’t find the story that exciting. I enjoyed reading it but it didn’t leave me on the edge of my seat.
“Take back what’s ours had become the rallying cry of —’s rabid supporters. It was a veiled call for blood. Aly’s blood, specifically, as well as the blood of anyone who supported Fontisian or Wraetian calls for peace. Aly guessed people were fed up and didn’t need a whole lot of convincing. All — had to do was just remind them how horrible their lives were and point a finger on the sly. See who they blamed then.” I found this quote very relevant to many of today’s political issues.
I felt like the two stories were kind of moving in circles, almost touching on something and then floating away before it got very interesting. I didn’t like Rhee and felt her narrative was annoying and rather pointless. All she focused on for years was not her own empires political climate but getting revenge. And even with that, she had no plan, not enough training for such a big act like assassination, and had no facts and was running on part of a conversation she eavesdropped on when she was 8. I enjoyed Aly’s narrative so much more and wished the book had mainly focused on him rather than the spoiled and ignorant Kalu princess, Rhee.
Also, the description for this book is misleading. It makes it sound like the book is about Aly and Rhee working together but in the book they are on their own separate missions.
Empress of a Thousand Skies was a very enjoyable read that touches on very relevant political strategies and cultural flaws relevant today. While not the most exciting read, I am glad I read it. I recently got an ARC of the second book in the mail and figured I should read the first so I can review it so look forward to my review of the sequel in the near future. I get the feeling it is going to be more exciting now that there are less secrets and world building that needs to be revealed.
Should you read it?
Yes! Especially if you are into Space fiction. Put it on your tbr, the second book comes out next month so maybe now is a good time to pick it up if you already had it on your list.
Have you already Empress of a Thousand Skies? Are you excited for the sequel? Aly or Rhee? Let me know down in the comments.
Thanks for reading!