Today, I wanted to talk about Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza with this spoiler-free review. I’ve wanted to get more into science-fiction lately and this novel sounded exactly like a story I’d enjoy. And despite a few elements I’ll go into details about in this review, I really liked it.
First of all, I’d like to talk to you about the few flaws I found about this novel, so then we can talk about everything I loved about it. To me, Empress of a Thousand Skies suffered from its length, as it is 316 pages long. While it worked great to keep the story moving, the story could have used a bit more world-building; and by that I mean that while things were definitely explained, I wished they could have been shown more instead. Some key story points (one in particular) felt almost brushed off when it had the opportunity to be a truly emotional, heartbreaking moment. Some plot points seemed a bit “easy” as well, realizations of secrets also being a bit too easy for the characters. The first 30 pages or so, I wasn’t sure what to make of the story and Rhiannon. I had a hard time understanding her and her actions as well as the direction of the story, everything felt a bit confused. After that though, it changed and that initial feeling of confusion definitely went away. These elements explain why I rated this book four-star.
Now, let’s go into all the positive. While I said the world-building could have been expanded on, I absolutely loved everything we got to learn about this universe and its history. It was obviously extremely well-thought out. Alyosha’s background and how it goes hand in hand with the history of this universe were especially so well described and developed upon. the religions aspect of things is incredibly well thought-out and developed as well which I loved. The story is constantly moving and we get to explore many places and meet different aliens even if it’s just one character here and there, and I loved that. It truly made the universe feel vast, and like there are so many corners of it we haven’t even been close to yet, it’s so exciting to me. There are so many possibilities and secrets we could uncover next. The general plot was also a very positive point for me. There are quite a few developments I did not see coming which made following Alyosha’s and Rhee’s adventures so intriguing. While key elements from this novel were solved, it sets up the sequel perfectly with more questions and higher stakes. I honestly cannot say how I think things are gonna go, which is great.
Both point of views were very unique, and even if their names hadn’t been the chapter title, it would have been easy to distinguish them from one another. Getting attached to Aly came quite easily for me, and his character is definitely a strong point in this novel. It took me a little longer to understand and relate to Rhee, but I did and she’s a fantastic character with a history that unfolds throughout the whole novel. I could understand her mistakes, her choices and both character felt real to me. After all, even if the universe is much bigger than they are, they are still very much humans and make mistakes. Having two different world views served the story very well and helped getting a much larger idea of how this universe works and all the implications the actions of different characters had.
All in all, I really enjoyed the novel despite a few flaws, it was thrilling and it sets up the sequel perfectly, sequel I will definitely pick up. I really want to know where the story, characters and relationships go. If you love space, fast-paced and full of action stories, with complex characters, I would highly recommend Empress of a Thousand Skies!
Have you read this novel? If yes, what did you think of it? Do you have any science-fiction recommendations for me?
Until next time,