#SPFBO An Empire of Tears (Tales of a Prodigy #1) by Tim Marquitz

EmpireOfTearsAn Empire of Tears is one of the nine books that I chose to roll forward and read completely as part of the first stage of the SPFBO competition.

This is without doubt a story for readers of grimdark that can be quite brutal in parts involving an unusual character, a man bred to kill who finds a chance of redemption when he least expected.

Gryl was a slave of Avantr.  Magic lies beneath his skin and his memories are all unkind usually involving insights into the pain inflicted upon him in order to increase his endurance.  He’s a man of war, shaped to feel no remorse and to fight to the bitter end.  As the story sets out Gryl, and the rest of the prodigies created for war, are sailing across the sea to make war on the Shytan Empire.  Unfortunately the invasion fails and Gryl finds himself a survivor in enemy territory.  Under the circumstances he turns to the only way of life likely to ensure his survival.  He becomes a sellsword, taking work where he can, although it’s not always easy with a price on his head and bounty hunters keen to collect.

This is a story that, for me, improved as the chapters went by.  The start was undoubtedly bloody and in fact I was almost reaching a threshold in terms of the fighting and violence – I will also mention at this point that there are potential triggers contained within in terms of the brutality and scenes of rape/molestation – to be honest, I didn’t feel that these were dwelled on but be aware this can be a most unpleasant world.

What I enjoyed about this is that each chapter is told almost like a small story in itself which makes Gryl’s tale move forward at a fairly fast clip, without all the filler in-between. The writing is definitely a strong point, there’s enough detail to give you an idea of the place and I think Marquitz does a good job in turning Gryl’s character around.  He’s definitely got a dark past and as the story begins his lack of emotion can be grating, particularly when he makes a number of mistakes that lead to deaths that could have been avoided, but he finds a cause and it helps to bring out some redeeming qualities that gave his character a chance to grow.

There were a number of other characters involved along the way, most notably the Priest who sees something more to Gryl than simply a killer, and the young children in the priest’s care who became a cause for Gryl to fight for.  Gryl undoubtedly plays the main role though.

In terms of criticisms.  I think the first thing I would mention falls more into the realms of personal taste.  This is dark fantasy, it’s bloody and the world created is a nasty place to say the least.  It won’t be for everyone to be frank and I did have a moment where I was starting to feel like it was too much, as it happened the author changed tack and I found myself pulled in – although, to be clear, this is still dark reading, it morphs into something different than simply a bloodfest but it’s still a long shot from a Disney extravaganza.  I found Gryl’s attitude a little annoying at the beginning, he made a number of mistakes that felt like they occured due to his over-confidence and, well, he had very little remorse when such things happened – that being said, he’s been tortured and manipulated to leave him an almost emotion-free zone so I guess that’s to be expected.  The only other thing I would mention is that I think an injection of some humour might have lessened the dark feel – I realise that humour probably isn’t appropriate for a lot of the content here but I just feel like the inclusion of something to relieve the tension every now and again would have been welcome, snarkdark if you will – perhaps that’s one of the drawbacks of the episodic chapter style – we were moving forward with such haste that there was very little time for moments of light relief.

Overall, I thought this was a good read.  It definitely had a decent pace and I read it relatively quickly.  The writing was self-assured and the ending left me wanting to read more.

I would rate this 3.4/3.5 on Goodreads.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




8 Responses to “#SPFBO An Empire of Tears (Tales of a Prodigy #1) by Tim Marquitz”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Ah Tim Marquitz, I’m glad he was part of this SPFBO. I’ve enjoyed his work in the past 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      I thought his writing was very impressive and I liked the style of each chapter being its own story. Perhaps a little too grimdark at times and a bit of humour could have helped with that but I would like to read on with this one.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Shalini

    Nasty world building seemed like a different theme here. Great review.. Intriguing 😍

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s a well written story and one that I had no problem in getting through. I think it got better as the story progresses and the main pov changed and had more of a focus. I would like to read on so I guess that’s always a good indication.
      Lynn 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    This sounds like the kind of book that requires a particular frame of mind while one reads it, because its grimness would not work well, for example, in a moment when the reader might be troubled for any reason. Still, the path to redemption of the main character offers a glimmer of hope, and that’s something to be taken into account.
    Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂

  4. Weekly Wrap Up : 17/2/19 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] being and read something else, clear my mind a little and then return.  I posted another SPFBO review this weekend just gone which means I have three more reviews to […]

  5. waytoofantasy

    Great review, Lynn! I don’t think this one is for me as I rarely read grimdark.

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