#SPFBO Review : The Empire of the Dead (The Godsblood Trilogy #1) by Phil Tucker


empireThe Empire of the Dead is one of my remaining four books for the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off.  I will be choosing a winner on Saturday but will first review each of my final books.

Phil Tucker is not a new author to me.  I read and enjoyed The Path of Flames, from his The Chronicles of the Black Gate series.  It was great and in fact I bought the next two books on the strength of it.

Anyway, The Empire of the Dead is completely different from The Path of Flames.  It’s just as well written and its still fantasy but this time its a heist story.  Doesn’t everyone love a heist story?

As we start the story we meet up with Acharsis, demigod and son of the fallen god Ekillos.  Acharsis has fallen on hard times, he’s feeling his age, he’s tired of being a merchant, he’s feeling guilt over his past actions and on top of that he has his very own demon that seems to appear out of nowhere right before bad things happen.  Acharsis has decided to return to his homeland to apologise to his past love Annara and to seek forgiveness from his former friend Jarek (also a demi God).  Of course, having received a recent visitation from his demonic menace perhaps Acharsis should have turned around!  Unfortunately, he ignored the visit and ploughed on and surely enough everything went to hell in a handcart swiftly on the heels of his appearance.  I feel like I’m always saying this and it does make me feel guilty but I’m not going to give away the rest of the plot because it’s best discovered through the read itself.  Although what I can say without giving too much away is that Acharsis and Annara agree to forget their differences and team up to try and make things right.  Along the way they visit Jarek to attempt to enlist his help and after that, and the odds being greatly stacked against them, they also seek further help as best they can.

Given that I’m not going to give anything more away about the plot let’s move swiftly on to world building and characters.  The world here is pretty grim.  Necromancy is abundant with the dead walking among the living and forming an army of very difficult to kill critters. People live miserable lives of poverty and starvation and the whole feel of the world is bleak and oppressive.  The city of Rekkidu, is the destination of our protagonists,  At it’s centre is a huge ziggurat, now the ruling home to an undead lord, brother of Jarek –  Akkodaisis.  This won’t be a happy family reunion.  Akkodaisis, being undead, has a penchant for sacrifice, he has schemes to become more powerful and his brother Jarek (former ruler of Rekkidu) could hold the key to his success.

To the characters: Jarek and Acharsis are something of a double act.  Jarek plays the no nonsense, dry humour, huge-hammer wielding type to Acharsis’ more funny guy, full of one liners, brains of the piece.  Annara, well, to be honest I didn’t really get a good feel for her other than she’s persuasive and stubborn.  Then we have two other characters, also children of former gods, Sisu and Kish – a bit like brother and sister these two enjoy a good spat,   I’m just going to confess straight off that Jarek and Kish were my out and out favourites.  Kish is a great kick ass female and I couldn’t help really liking her.  She has this wonderful, honest, simplicity to her where basically she’s not afraid to say and do as she pleases.  And Jarek, he has a past that has scarred him, he’s a bit of a deep thinker but there’s something about him that you can’t help liking, perhaps his quiet, calming influence.

I do enjoy the way Phil Tucker writes and on top of that I really appreciate the way in which he brings humour to the story to off set some of the darker elements.  He clearly understands the need to break the tension a little and achieves it in what appears an almost effortless way through the snarky dialogue that his characters share.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing too major to be honest.  I thought the first half of the book took a little time to warm up – the second half of course more than makes up for that and the first half is establishing the groundwork so it’s understandable but just be aware that it takes a little time to really take off and be patient.

Overall, I had a great time reading this.  It’s well written, creative and entertaining and it ends with the perfect set up for the next book, which I will definitely be picking up.


5 Responses to “#SPFBO Review : The Empire of the Dead (The Godsblood Trilogy #1) by Phil Tucker”

  1. Captain's Quarters

    A heist huh? Added to the ports fer plunder list. Arrrr!
    x The Captain

  2. sjhigbee

    Phil Tucker is a name I’ve heard before – thank you for yet another thoughtful, detailed review:)

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I really enjoyed Phil Tucker’s Path of Flames which was his entry for last year’s SPFBO. After my experience with his work and now with your review, I am DEFINITELY eyeing this one with interest! 😀

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Did you say “heist”? Then I’m in! 🙂
    (also the personal demon sounds like a nice touch…)

  5. #SPFBO Finalist | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Empire of the Dead by Phil Tucker […]

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