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Seven Deaths of an Empire

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A new grimdark fantasy for fans of Anna Smith-Spark, GRR Martin and Mark Lawrence. The Emperor is dead. Long live the Empire. General Bordan has a lifetime of duty and sacrifice behind him in the service of the Empire. But with rebellion brewing in the countryside, and assassins, thieves and politicians vying for power in the city, it is all Bordan can do to protect the hei A new grimdark fantasy for fans of Anna Smith-Spark, GRR Martin and Mark Lawrence. The Emperor is dead. Long live the Empire. General Bordan has a lifetime of duty and sacrifice behind him in the service of the Empire. But with rebellion brewing in the countryside, and assassins, thieves and politicians vying for power in the city, it is all Bordan can do to protect the heir to the throne. Apprentice Magician Kyron is assigned to the late Emperor’s honour guard escorting his body on the long road back to the capital. Mistrusted and feared by his own people, even a magician’s power may fail when enemies emerge from the forests, for whoever is in control of the Emperor’s body, controls the succession. Seven lives and seven deaths to seal the fate of the Empire.


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A new grimdark fantasy for fans of Anna Smith-Spark, GRR Martin and Mark Lawrence. The Emperor is dead. Long live the Empire. General Bordan has a lifetime of duty and sacrifice behind him in the service of the Empire. But with rebellion brewing in the countryside, and assassins, thieves and politicians vying for power in the city, it is all Bordan can do to protect the hei A new grimdark fantasy for fans of Anna Smith-Spark, GRR Martin and Mark Lawrence. The Emperor is dead. Long live the Empire. General Bordan has a lifetime of duty and sacrifice behind him in the service of the Empire. But with rebellion brewing in the countryside, and assassins, thieves and politicians vying for power in the city, it is all Bordan can do to protect the heir to the throne. Apprentice Magician Kyron is assigned to the late Emperor’s honour guard escorting his body on the long road back to the capital. Mistrusted and feared by his own people, even a magician’s power may fail when enemies emerge from the forests, for whoever is in control of the Emperor’s body, controls the succession. Seven lives and seven deaths to seal the fate of the Empire.

30 review for Seven Deaths of an Empire

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark Lawrence

    The headline is that this is a book which gathers speed and past the half-way mark begins to thunder towards an exciting conclusion. The setting is strongly Roman and the world-building draws heavily on history, mixing in magic and a simpler (easier to engage with than the Roman pantheon) religious side. The story is told through two points of view: in the capitol we have the aging highest ranked general in the empire, and in a distant tribes-held forest, a young apprentice magician. I'll deal with The headline is that this is a book which gathers speed and past the half-way mark begins to thunder towards an exciting conclusion. The setting is strongly Roman and the world-building draws heavily on history, mixing in magic and a simpler (easier to engage with than the Roman pantheon) religious side. The story is told through two points of view: in the capitol we have the aging highest ranked general in the empire, and in a distant tribes-held forest, a young apprentice magician. I'll deal with my two minor-ish gripes and finish with all the good stuff. The first is that while the old man was immediately engaging (after an initial misstep where he seems to fairly gratuitously stab a messenger when alternatives easily suggest themselves), the young apprentice was harder to care about. When I say that Kyron spends a large portion of the book whining and moaning, it's not just my impression from his words - the majority of his dialogue tags are literally "he complained" "he whined" etc. He does grow, and that's good, we like character arcs. But he is somewhat insufferable to start with. The second is a writing thing. The description in the book is curiously generic. Few places are named - we have 'the woods' 'the town' 'the market' 'the plains', and for me a smattering of detail makes things feel real and come to life. Meals are described down to a certain level, we have platters of meats, bowls of fruit, trays of pastries, but I'm not sure a single fruit is named. I recall multiple examples of someone eating or slicing 'fruit' or 'meat', and just going that step further, making it an apple, or some pork, or whatever would have grounded me that bit more. It's a writing thing and might only bother writers. There - we have those things out of the way. Onto the good stuff! Seven Deaths has many deaths, lots of fighting, a twisty plot, intrigue, mystery, royalty with Joffrey-level disfunction ... and with the groundwork in place it builds a head of steam such that I really enjoyed the race to the end. The combat and battle-magic was well done. I wasn't always sure why our general was in the thick of the fighting or why our apprentice and a few priests seemed to be the only ones between the tribal hordes and the vital cargo ... but I appreciated having a PoV in the midst of the battles, sharing the excitement, danger, and fear. The choice of a Roman setting was a good one, giving a new (ancient) vibe to the story and a pleasant change for anyone who has read too many pseudo medieval tales in a row. Additionally, although the story is about the fate of a whole empire, it is in many ways a small scale story for epic fantasy. This is GRM not GRRM. The fate of the world isn't at stake, it's more a political issue. And when it boils down to it, the focus is on a small army returning to the capitol through dangerous territory, and on a small group at the top of the power-pyramid in the capitol itself. Despite its seeming scale the story is quite a parochial one, and again may be a welcome change to those that find epic fantasy scales the heights too quickly, putting the fate of life itself in the balance by page 12. Matthews' traditionally published debut is a solid effort that I enjoyed reading, and something I'd encourage you to try out if any of the praise it has pried from my ungenerous hands has struck a chord with you. Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #prizes ..

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hamad

    This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me ☕ “The hardest truth is the realisation that sometimes there is nothing you can do,” Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars Seven Deaths of an Empire is a novel anticipated by many readers and it is one of Solaris’ biggest publications this year, I mean the title is catchy, the cover is awesome and it has a cool synopsis! I think the book will be successful indeed. My problem is that I have read my fair share of adult novels and found this to be This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me ☕ “The hardest truth is the realisation that sometimes there is nothing you can do,” Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars Seven Deaths of an Empire is a novel anticipated by many readers and it is one of Solaris’ biggest publications this year, I mean the title is catchy, the cover is awesome and it has a cool synopsis! I think the book will be successful indeed. My problem is that I have read my fair share of adult novels and found this to be repetitive! The writing is good, I did not feel like I was reading such a big book and I finished it quickly. The format used is smart because it is a double POV narrative, jumping between General Bordan who has given his life to the empire and is loyal to the throne as someone can be. On the other side we have the magician apprentice Kyron who is returning the late Emperor’s body to the capital. In addition to that, every chapter starts by a small flashback from 10 years ago and with each chapter it advances till we reach the current time. There are good quotes here and there so the writing overall was good. The main characters themselves are well balanced between the two narratives, I think I cared about them and that they were fleshed out equally good. I did find out the connection between them before it was revealed but I think it took me more than it should have because it was well foreshadowed! The rest of the characters are good but I don’t think they are very memorable to me. The Emperor line was a bit lunatic and his son is kind of similar to Joffrey from GoT and we all know how lovable he was! Also there is death all over the place which is not strange given the title! “It isn’t where someone comes from, lad. It is what they do that judges their worth.” The world-building is average, I mean we get to know the world and some of the history but I wanted more from the magic and something different and more exciting which I felt was lacking here. I found myself invested mainly in the first part of the book and the last one, in the middle things got a little stagnant and I was starting to feel bored when things got interesting again and I was reading fast once more. The chapters are kind of short to medium, like 10 pages in average so it kind of keeps things going which I enjoyed. I think the problem is that I saw where things where going from early on, there is a mystery part to the story that is a huge part of the narrative and plot but for me and from my experience reading this kind of books, it was obvious because it is always “that person” and that kind of affected my experience because I hoped for more. Toward the end there was a plot twist that I didn’t see but it was not really a plot twist because it only lead to something I expected! I also did not know if this was supposed to be a standalone or a series but a good friend from GR provided us with the author’s answer is that it is a complete story but there will be a sequel (probably two) depending on how much success this one has. And that brings me to the last point which was that if it is a complete story then I am not a huge fan of the ending although it does make sense one way or another! “The moment we no longer seek new knowledge, we stop living and contributing to our communities,” Summary: I think I am a bit harsh with this one just because I had high expectations that were never met. The writing and characters are good but my main problem was with the plot which I found predictable and similar to many books of the genre that I read before. I know this will be successful though and I hope it sells enough copies to get a sequel!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nick Borrelli

    When I first heard about this book, I simply couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Lots of people in the same book circles as me were excited about it and the first reviews that I saw were all pretty glowing. So when I was able to get an advance copy from the publisher Rebellion, you could say I was a little pumped. It appeared to be just the type of epic fantasy that I enjoy, and so I settled in for what I hoped was going to be a fun and entertaining reading trip. I wasn't disappointed. The story When I first heard about this book, I simply couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Lots of people in the same book circles as me were excited about it and the first reviews that I saw were all pretty glowing. So when I was able to get an advance copy from the publisher Rebellion, you could say I was a little pumped. It appeared to be just the type of epic fantasy that I enjoy, and so I settled in for what I hoped was going to be a fun and entertaining reading trip. I wasn't disappointed. The story is told in a very cool manner as each chapter alternates between two main viewpoints: one the magician's apprentice Kyron, and the other loyal General of the Empire, Bordan. There are also mini-flashbacks that begin each chapter that count down from 10 years prior to a couple of years before the events that are currently taking place. All of this is done for a particular reason and starts to make sense with the overall story as you read further. Frankly, I loved this method of storytelling and it just made the experience that much better in my opinion. As SEVEN DEATHS OF AN EMPIRE unfolds we see an Empire somewhat in turmoil and uncertainty with the death of the long-reigning Emperor. Stability must be regained at all costs, for the risk of opportunistic enemies who would take advantage of the transition between rulers is both very real and potentially catastrophic. It is incumbent upon the main characters in the story to play their own part in service to the Empire, yet each have their own daunting challenges that confront them. One wields the weapon of magic (albeit raw and untested), while the other uses the force of military might. It is interesting to see the dichotomy between the two play out as tensions rise and danger looms. This is a book that has a good deal of intrigue and political maneuvering in it, which I am a huge fan of. If done right, it can propel a standard fantasy tale into something much more engaging. And this one is done right. Matthews never spoon-feeds the reader and it seemed like I was always kept on my toes as one treacherous act is followed by another that I didn't see coming. Predictability is a big turn off for me but I'm happy to say that so many things happen in this book that made my jaw drop, especially in the final 100 pages or so. The aspect that makes this book a cut above your normal fantasy read though is the growing anticipation of something transformative building as you turn the pages. There's a creeping sense of dread as the characters desperately try to hold on to some semblance of the status quo in the face of treachery and setbacks galore. Throw in the fact that many of the factions who are attempting to salvage the Empire don't really trust one another, and the task is an onerous one for sure. SEVEN DEATHS OF AN EMPIRE is an excellent book that I recommend to anyone who loves their fantasy with loads of intrigue, deception, action, and magic. A fascinating book about what happens when a once powerful Empire shows a brief moment of weakness, and in doing so, exposes its throat to predators both internal and external. This is a fantasy book that pulls no punches and keeps you ensnared in its clutches from start to finish. I can't wait to see what G.R. Matthews comes up with next. The book isn't officially out until June 22nd, but it can be preordered now to be delivered on release day.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Library of a Viking

    “The desire for revenge can destroy a person or fuel them for a time, but when revenge fulfilled is an empty thing. In the end, it is how we deal with our losses that defines and guides our future.” Seven Deaths of an Empire is a Roman-inspired fantasy set in a world where the empire is actively trying to conquer and control the “barbarians” in the forests. However, due to the sudden passing of the Emporer, the whole empire is struck by uncertainty and fear. This book follows two POVs, Bordan, a “The desire for revenge can destroy a person or fuel them for a time, but when revenge fulfilled is an empty thing. In the end, it is how we deal with our losses that defines and guides our future.” Seven Deaths of an Empire is a Roman-inspired fantasy set in a world where the empire is actively trying to conquer and control the “barbarians” in the forests. However, due to the sudden passing of the Emporer, the whole empire is struck by uncertainty and fear. This book follows two POVs, Bordan, a general that has gained a reputation of being loyal and skilled through his many years of service, and the apprentice Kyron, who is being trained by his Master Padarn, to become a magician. G.R. Matthews does a phenomenal job at introducing the reader to the world and its characters. The reader is introduced to a world with a focus on forbidden magic, politics, discrimination and a brewing rebellion. Although there is a lot of political manoeuvring, the reader is never left confused. Matthews writing style is very accessible, and the pacing is phenomenal, making the reader feel immersed in this world from the first page. This book reads like a classical fantasy, but the fast pacing and the unexpecting plot twists make this story feel exciting and new. General Bordan and the apprentice Kyron are great characters, with a lot of depths and complex motivations. Matthews does a terrific job at making the reader feel invested in the character’s story by explaining their thoughts, feelings and giving the reader some insights into these characters past. Moreover, these characters are put through challenging situations, forcing them to act on their intuition and showcase their character. Having the reader follow these two characters, which are different by age, location, and occupation, keeps this story fresh throughout the book. Matthews is not afraid to manipulate with the readers' feelings by having unexpected betrayals and murders prevalent in this book. If you are picking up this book, then be prepared to get your heart ripped out. Matthews is also analysing some fantastic themes in this book, such as identity, the value of human life and the cost of being loyal. The world-building is also great. The world is inspired by the Roman empire, which is reflected in the Empire's motivations, how the Roman numerals used at the start of each chapter and the mention of gladiators. The reader is introduced to a priesthood, magicians, soldiers, generals, tribes, forest, lore and forbidden magic. The magic system is based around the weave of motes into constructs but has its limitations and rules, making it feel like a “hard magic” system. My primary “criticism” is that the reader is left wanting to know more about the world, such as the tribes, the magic system and the empire’s history. Although we learn about these aspects, the reader does not get extensive knowledge about this, and the reader is left wondering what else there is to discover in this world (which can be a good thing!). Hopefully, we will learn more about this world in the sequel. In conclusion, Seven Deaths of an Empire is a classical fantasy with fantastic pacing, memorable characters and satisfying plot twists. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. If you are looking for something new to the fantasy genre, I wouldn’t recommend this book. However, if you are looking for a classical fantasy, done well, then I can highly recommend this book. Although this is a thick book, it didn’t feel long or drawn out. I will definitely be continuing with this series. My only ‘criticism’ is the 'lack' of explanation about the tribes, the lore and the magic system. Hopefully, we will learn more about these aspects in the sequel. 4 / 5 stars Thanks to Rebellion Publishing and NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    "Seven Deaths of an Empire" is a new fantasy read set in a world of swords and sorcery where there is one mighty Empire slowly and inexorably conquering the barbarians in the forests surrounding the Empire. It is a sort of Roman Empire if you will at its height. There is a tension within the Empire between the priests and the magicians with the priests seemingly in the ascendancy and the magicians starting to wane. The story is told in alternating chapters between the Magician and the General's "Seven Deaths of an Empire" is a new fantasy read set in a world of swords and sorcery where there is one mighty Empire slowly and inexorably conquering the barbarians in the forests surrounding the Empire. It is a sort of Roman Empire if you will at its height. There is a tension within the Empire between the priests and the magicians with the priests seemingly in the ascendancy and the magicians starting to wane. The story is told in alternating chapters between the Magician and the General's points of view. The Magician (and Magician may well refer to the elder Magician or to his young apprentice or both) is with the Emperor on a long journey to the northern lands with a great army. When the Emperor is felled in battle, it is critical that his body be returned to the capital city along with the amulet of the royals so that his heir may take the throne. The magician, the apprentice, a forest warrior princess, and a relative handful of priests and warriors leave the main body of troops in the north and travel through the forestlands among the hostile villages to reach the far-off capital. Meanwhile, in the General's chapters, we have palace intrigue back in the capital as the young heirs are tested and impatiently await the Emperor's body returning and the passing of the crown. In many ways, this is a coming-of-age fantasy as the torch is passed from the older generation of the General and the Magician to the younger not-quite-ready generation of the Emperor's children and the apprentice. In some ways, both the Emperor's children and the apprentice seem almost too young for their years, too naive, too quick to judge. A bit more well-rounding of their characters would be in order. This is clearly the first of several books in a series and the magic works are barely hinted at in this volume. There is far more fascinating stories to be told of the awesome powers that can be wielded and the hidden realms behind the trees. All in all, quite a good read. Although it weighs in at 550 pages or so, it does not quite feel that lengthy.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I received an advance review copy for free via NetGalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. My sincerest thanks to the publisher and author. :) Overall this was not a bad book or story though it fell a bit more flat for me personally than probably the average reader will find. The story itself is told well, the plot is a bit par for the course of the genre, from multiple angles and the prose itself is well done. The setting for this book is incredibly Ancient Roman-esque and is the primar I received an advance review copy for free via NetGalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. My sincerest thanks to the publisher and author. :) Overall this was not a bad book or story though it fell a bit more flat for me personally than probably the average reader will find. The story itself is told well, the plot is a bit par for the course of the genre, from multiple angles and the prose itself is well done. The setting for this book is incredibly Ancient Roman-esque and is the primary basis for the units, armor, tactics, weaponry etc. It has a bit of magic mixed in. The enemies of the empire are clearly either Gauls or Germanic tribes. There is a bit of late Catholic Inquisition thrown in for good measure and conflict between the Gymnasium of Magic. This sadly, is where it falls flat for me. If I had known that a lot of this setting had been lifted from the Ancient Roman era I would have given it a pass. I found myself reading it and going "Man I wish I was just reading a historical fiction novel." My humble point being is that there is too much lifted from that ancient era to really set this novel apart. If it isn't going to be a historical novel I desire a more original world to explore. As it is the bit of magic thrown in along with an Inquisition like church just wasn't enough to make this worth the read as a fantasy in my mind. I felt the author needed to commit, either write a historical novel or create a much more original world setting for his fantasy tale. With one foot firmly in history, the other attempting to gain a purchase in fantasy, this novel collapses into a heap; where it regrettably gets lost in the shuffle.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Julia Sarene

    I’ve waited what felt like ages for this one, and I couldn’t be happier with the story I got to read! Seven Deaths of an Empire is a grimdark fantasy that is inspired by roman legions and forest tribes. It combines a lot of my favourite things, so in this book you’ll find political manoeuvring, loyalties and betrayals, a whole pile of bodies, action and fighting along with quiet and contemplative bits, magic as well as a realistic feeling world where actions do have consequences. I especially enjo I’ve waited what felt like ages for this one, and I couldn’t be happier with the story I got to read! Seven Deaths of an Empire is a grimdark fantasy that is inspired by roman legions and forest tribes. It combines a lot of my favourite things, so in this book you’ll find political manoeuvring, loyalties and betrayals, a whole pile of bodies, action and fighting along with quiet and contemplative bits, magic as well as a realistic feeling world where actions do have consequences. I especially enjoyed the two different POVs and main characters. One being a battle weary old general trying to hold the young heir and the empire together. Age was an enemy no one could defeat with cunning strategy, clever tactics, or sharp sword. It cut through armour, flesh, bone and blood without pause or care. The other POV being a young and still rather naive magician and his sage master. Kyron looked down at the intricate carving, not understanding. A state of being he was used to. These different styles and manners kept me well hooked and breezing through the chapters as I always wanted to know what would happen on the other side of the empire. I clicked with the early characters early on and found them well rounded and enjoyed seeing them grow over the cause of the book. Besides the darkness there’s also a little bit of humour and banter sprinkled throughout the book, which made the world a bit less bleak and helped to get a good balance overall. Like this one after jumping at shadows: “I will be stabbing a tree in a minute,” he said. “Me too, sir,” the soldier said. “Get your own tree,” Bordan said, his smile growing wider. “Plenty to choose from.” Another bit of the book I absolutely loved is the prose. Most of it is effective but unobtrusive, doing its job well without drawing attention to itself as more purple passages might. And then you get those little bits of more introspection, and it contrasts so well with the unembroidered style. I wouldn’t want to read a whole book this way, but the little bits and pieces strewn throughout worked incredibly well for me. Bordan chose each word with more care than he sharpened his sword. A cut here would not be healed with a simple bandage, but could put him in a grave of his own, next to the messenger, no doubt. The setting also caught my interest quickly. I loved traveling the forest, and while I found the empire rather familiar having read quite a bit about the Romans, I was so very intrigued by the tribes! I really hope we might get to see more of them and their culture in later books of the series, but only time will tell! I didn’t even know who I was rooting for… I definitely hoped and feared for both sides of this conflict, which made the whole reading experience even more gripping to me. I can’t say I noticed even one infodump in the whole book, and the blend of new and well known to me cultures made it a good balance that was both fresh and yet not overwhelmingly new. Even as the sun rose above the trees, turning morning’s gemstone dew into a thin grey mist which drifted to the canopy above, the sense of despondency settled anew into his heart. The aroma of loss overpowered the smoke from the fires and the scent of porridge charring in the pots. He drew it down with every breath, feeling it sweep through his limbs on each pulse of his heavy heart, draining the energy from his legs, and every step became a struggle against lethargy. I love grimdark as a genre, because it so often just feels more realistic than the classics. If you get an arrow in the stomach, it is very unlikely you will get up again later on. Actions do have consequences and the stakes just are a lot higher if you have no idea if your favourite characters will actually make it to the end. It can turn too dark and end up completely hopeless, which will lose my interest, if I can’t see any way forward for the characters at all. GR Matthews always dangles just enough hope in front of you to keep you always ploughing on, hoping for the best while also fearing the worst. So I’ll leave you with one last quote, and hope you’ll do yourself a favour and go read this one! One spark is it all it will take for them to burn us down.” “Let us hope for rain then,” Bordan said. “Always,” ------------------- Old Proof Review, before ARC Very lucky me had the opportunity to beta read a very early (pre editor) ARC a long while ago, and I already loved it in that state so much! I'll start a reread in 2021 of the now finished ARC, and will put up a review after that. So long let it be known that this was an awesome grim read, but still with some hope. I loved the characters and the mystery about possible betrayals. Especially the mix of a Roman inspired empire and a very different society of woodland clans made for fresh reading material that I more or less inhaled!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.0 Stars This was easily one of the best 2021 fantasy books that I have read so far this year. Seven Deaths of an Empire waa a solid fantasy novel, offering a great setup, complex characters and plenty of suspense. There was very little action in this novel, which I personally did not mind. Instead, the narrative was driven by political intrigue and mystery. Switching between two perspectives, both main characters were likeable with interesting stories. The magic system was on the softer side, y 4.0 Stars This was easily one of the best 2021 fantasy books that I have read so far this year. Seven Deaths of an Empire waa a solid fantasy novel, offering a great setup, complex characters and plenty of suspense. There was very little action in this novel, which I personally did not mind. Instead, the narrative was driven by political intrigue and mystery. Switching between two perspectives, both main characters were likeable with interesting stories. The magic system was on the softer side, yet described in such a compelling way.  I enjoyed the tension between the religious leaders and magical users. The middle section felt a bit long and drawn out, but the ending payoff made it all worthwhile. This is currently marketed as a standalone but I strongly suspect another novel will follow after this one. In terms of accessibility, this one was easy to follow due to the scope of the story and number of characters. The length could be daunting to some readers, but I personally flew through the chapters incredibly fast. The writing style was clean, without the flowery language that often bogs down fantasy works. The story itself was not overly complicated, but that did not detract from my enjoyment.  I would recommend this one to any fantasy reader looking for a straightforward epic standalone of political maneuvering for the crown, with similar themes to A Song of Ice and Fire. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Maja Ingrid

    After sleeping on it for a couple of days, I'm settling with 4 stars! Will this be a series or is it a stand-alone? In the acknowledgements last line, Matthews says “Thanks for reading this far and I hope to see you in the next book!” is that next book in the series or his general next book? What I’m getting at, this works as a standalone, but there’s enough unexplored stuff for a next book. The ending felt too abrupt for it to be just a stand-alone. For me it feels like a good start for a series After sleeping on it for a couple of days, I'm settling with 4 stars! Will this be a series or is it a stand-alone? In the acknowledgements last line, Matthews says “Thanks for reading this far and I hope to see you in the next book!” is that next book in the series or his general next book? What I’m getting at, this works as a standalone, but there’s enough unexplored stuff for a next book. The ending felt too abrupt for it to be just a stand-alone. For me it feels like a good start for a series/trilogy or even just duology. It was a fun read. Not as grimdark as I’d hoped, but still fun. I would actually say it’s very light grimdark, or not really grimdark at all. So, if you kind of just want to dip your toes into grimdark. This could be for you. The plot is really easy to get into, we all know the stuff. The emperor is dead, his heirs are batshit crazy (view spoiler)[though it takes a bit for Aelia to really shine through on that part since she seemed really composed and calculating for bigger part of the book (hide spoiler)] . Rebellions. Religion and magic do not go along well, like at all. Some twists were easy to figure out, others I did not see coming. Short chapters and Matthews' way of writing also makes the book real fast to read. The book is dual-POV and follows an old general, Bordan, and a young magican apprentice, Kyron. Bordan has devoted a lifetime to protect the empire. Now, with the dead emperor and rebellions, it takes all he can do to protect the heir. There’s lots of unrest going on and to establish order the coronation of the heir needs to be done as soon as possible. Kyron is assigned, together with his Master Padarn, to the honour guard to bring back the emperor’s body back to the capital through hostile terrain, together with not altogether friendly company. I did like the way the narrative was presented. I thoroughly enjoyed the little flashback snippets at the beginning of every chapter (view spoiler)[so it took me like no time at all to figure out the connection between Bordan and Kyron, though I enjoyed learning of their relationship that way (hide spoiler)] . Honestly at most part of the book, Bordan felt like the smartest person of the whole bunch. Always wise and thoughtful. Padarn, Kyron’s master, also seemed to have at least half a brain between his ears. Also really admired Padarn for his patience with all of Kyron’s complaints. Kyron, bless that lad, annoyed me to no end at first. He’s naïve and narrowminded, to the point of almost brainwashed, in that he so wholeheartedly believes that everything with the empire and emperor is good and everything outside is bad. Even though a big chunk of the empire hates him and his kind. He did grow on me a lot. I’ve got a soft spot for magician boys despite how annoying they are. Also Emlyn is my brave girl and I love her. I loved the relationship (so far not romantic) that grew between her and Kyron (also Emlyn putting him in place and challenging his beliefs in the Empire was very satisfying). The dual-POV do create a bit of a narrow scope in the story telling, which made me thirst for more. We have a Gorgeous COLOURED map with named places that are NEVER mentioned in the story, there are named characters that we only catch glimpses of. There’s other stuff to build upon and that ending have many roads to follow and I just IMAGINE THAT BRUTAL WAR WE CAN HAVE! As I said. This works well as a stand-alone. We need MORE stand-alone high fantasy. But gosh does this one needs a sequel. So, Geoff, if you see this, you know what to do. Only have ONE condition: It needs to feature Kyron and Emlyn. - - - A new grimdark fantasy for fans of Anna Smith-Spark? Sign me the fuck up Also the blurb speaks to my soul. I NEEd this book like air.

  10. 5 out of 5

    William Gwynne

    SEVEN DEATHS OF AN EMPIRE IS RELEASED TODAY To hear a short pitch of this debut from G. R. Matthews himself, to see if this is for you, you can click on a link here - The Brothers Gwynne SEVEN DEATHS OF AN EMPIRE IS RELEASED TODAY To hear a short pitch of this debut from G. R. Matthews himself, to see if this is for you, you can click on a link here - The Brothers Gwynne

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jayadev

    Some Spoilers just for context, but Spoilers nonetheless, tread lightly ARC provided by Rebellion Publishing through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The Seven deaths of an Empire takes place in the lands collectively called as 'The six Kingdoms'. The Empire, one of the six is a rapidly expanding kingdom in the process of conquering 'the forest of the tribes', another of the six in the name of bringing the so called 'savages of the tribes' to civilization. The Empire is obviously inspir Some Spoilers just for context, but Spoilers nonetheless, tread lightly ARC provided by Rebellion Publishing through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The Seven deaths of an Empire takes place in the lands collectively called as 'The six Kingdoms'. The Empire, one of the six is a rapidly expanding kingdom in the process of conquering 'the forest of the tribes', another of the six in the name of bringing the so called 'savages of the tribes' to civilization. The Empire is obviously inspired by the ancient Roman Empire and the kingdom of the tribes representing the various tribal factions of Germania with who the Roman Empire clashed repeatedly in their conquest of Europe (I think so, please don't, I'm not exactly well versed in that particular subject). The citizens of the Empire follow the doctrines of church of the flame. The flame which symbolises the single deity who will embrace it's followers with warmth and eternally scorching it's enemies (remind you of something?). The emperor possesses an amulet of the flame, which contains the collective knowledge of his predecessors. Backed by this knowledge and the power of the flame, the Empire rightly moves ahead with its "noble" conquest. Surely their advance would be successful right?. Wrong, the emperor dies and now his body must be transported from the front lines of the war to his capital so that his heir could claim the Amulet and succeed him. This is where we meet the two points of view in the book. General Bordan, one the most trusted men of the late emperor must hold the capital city at bay as they react to the death of the emperor while at the same time dealing with the heirs to whom the time has come to bear the responsibilities of the Empire. The other POV is of Kyron an apprentice magician on the warfront, whose master has been chosen to escort the body of the emperor back to the capital. The escort must battle the tribes trying to thwart their return with the body. Along the way Kyron must come to terms with the ideology set by the Empire and the church as he begin to see things in direct contradiction with what he previously belived. Meanwhile at the capital, Bordan senses that there's more going on behind the scenes and that this isn't going to be a trouble free succession. Subsequent events in the palace only make things worse. As the two storylines converge, the pacing picks up exponentially and the book keeps you at the edge of your seat with an explosive (pun intended, if you know you know) conclusion and setting up of the sequel. The pacing for the first thirty or so percent of the book is quite iffy. The book starts off well but then devolves into a slow trudge. The dual point of view is usually used by authors to keep the story interesting and stop the book from feeling stagnant (unless they've got god tier worldbuilding and character work). This unfortunately doesn't work in this book initially as for some stretches of the story only one character's POV is interesting while the other sort of feels dull. The dual POV works when both are equally or atleast nearly enjoyable. This issue is resolved to an extent once the book picks up the pace. The worldbuilding is interesting, bit we dont get much (close to none) details of th world other than the two main factions at war. There is hope that this is remedied in the sequel. Another issue (this is mostly personal by the way) and is something I've noticed in many characters across many books who have a similar situation to Kyron. The character start with some pre existing ideals, the journey they take makes them question their ideals and they come out as a chaged person. This works well, but most of the time what end's up happening is that the faction or the ideal the character stood behind initially ends ups feeling entirely in the wrong where as the faction the character was initially against are having ideals entirely the right one. This makes the reader choose the second faction without another thought. Wouldn't it be much more interesting if both factions have had holes or flaws in their ideals and the character who is in question undergoes a change to fit the best in both worlds. Only in a few books have I seen this happen and fewer hav I seen it succeed. Mostly it goes quickly to one side or another. With the way the sequel is set-up I hope some of the concept I've mentioned in my mini-rant is explored. I will be looking forward to the sequel.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lena (Sufficiently Advanced Lena)

    Okay, I'll be back with a review in a hot minute BECAUSE OMFG THIS BOOK My thoughts about Seven Deaths of an Empire here Okay, I'll be back with a review in a hot minute BECAUSE OMFG THIS BOOK My thoughts about Seven Deaths of an Empire here

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nathalie

    I received a copy from Rebellion Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I thought the book looked grander in scale than it actually ended up being. We had only two different POVs, both of which were different enough and served their purpose in being a bit more personal and developing their side of the world. (Which I like!) I switched a few times between the two when it came to which POV I was interested in the most. At the start it was Bordan, then in the middle it switched to Kyron and so I received a copy from Rebellion Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I thought the book looked grander in scale than it actually ended up being. We had only two different POVs, both of which were different enough and served their purpose in being a bit more personal and developing their side of the world. (Which I like!) I switched a few times between the two when it came to which POV I was interested in the most. At the start it was Bordan, then in the middle it switched to Kyron and so on. They both had their high points and their lower points. The story itself was interesting, but it had an incredibly slow start. It took me about halfway to really warm up to it, and I was pretty invested by the time I hit the 80% mark, but because of that it took me ages just to get to that halfway point. I scoff a bit when I hear people’s reviews of something being “I know the start is pretty so-so, but it gets good later, I promise!” which is often something I don’t agree with. In this case though, I would say it’s true. Not that the start is so-so at all, it’s just slow, but as long as you’re semi-interested in the characters and what’s going on around them, the road to the end is going to pay off. It isn’t as straightforward as it appears to be. Certainly a promising start!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Omg I want this in my hands, I can not wait to make it colorful with sticky tabs. It looks soo good.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Di Maitland

    G. R. Matthews is not currently a well known author but I think he'll gain popularity with this book. I loved it. The plot drew me in from the start and I loved the forest settings and the rather unconventional heroes. "Control the army and you can impose your will on a country on Empire." General Bordan is sixty and starting to feel his years. When his friend, the Emperor, dies whilst on campaign, Bordan must hold together the capital until the heir can be crowned. Far away to the north, Appr G. R. Matthews is not currently a well known author but I think he'll gain popularity with this book. I loved it. The plot drew me in from the start and I loved the forest settings and the rather unconventional heroes. "Control the army and you can impose your will on a country on Empire." General Bordan is sixty and starting to feel his years. When his friend, the Emperor, dies whilst on campaign, Bordan must hold together the capital until the heir can be crowned. Far away to the north, Apprentice Magician Kyron and his Master are tasked with accompanying the Emperor's body as it's returned to the capital through enemy territory. The plot seems simple at first but gains complexity and momentum as it goes. It's the first time I've read a book where the title played an active role in how I read the story. I knew to expect seven deaths, so when the plot slowed but we'd only had four, I knew that there was a lot more to look forward to. (Oddly, I'm not sure we ever did reach seven deaths but that proved unimportant by the end. (view spoiler)[Of the significant characters, I counted: 1) The emperor 2) Alhard 3) The empress 4) Padarn 5) Bordan 6) Aelia (hide spoiler)] ) The story is told from two different perspectives and the protagonists couldn't have been more different. Kyron is seventeen and a nervous, diminutive boy. He's well intentioned and does his best, but is slow to learn and doesn't always think for himself. He does, however, inspire friendship and loyalty in others – sometimes more than he, perhaps, deserves – and won't be pushed over or trodden on. I found him sweet (though I did want to give him a good kicking at times), and I enjoyed watching him grow and learn. Bordan, meanwhile, is both a soldier and a politician. He'll make the hard choices when he has to, but isn't going to throw away the lives of his men for frivolous pursuits. He can lead, and does his best to guide the leadership of others, but, at the end of the day, he will do what his monarch demands of him, no matter the cost. He was far more patient and understanding with Prince Alhard and Princess Aelia than I would ever have been, and far more friendly and trusting of Godewyn and Vedrix than I would have expected. Both warmed him to me and increased my admiration of him tenfold. "Will you two stop joking and fencing with each other? Can't you see I am having a last minute panic about his whole idea," Bordan said, flicking the reins in irritation. "Last thoughts are to be expected, General," Godewyn said. "A least that is what I say to nervous grooms and worried brides on their day of joining." Emlyn, the tribal guide, I knew I'd like from the start, if only because my brother is called Emlyn and I've never seen the name in a book before. I found her surprisingly diligent in her work and knew there had to be more to her story than first appeared. Padarn, Kyron's Master, I loved. He was wise and sweet and an inspiration to teachers everywhere. "I will be stabbing a tree in a minute," he said. "Me too, sir," the soldier said. "Get your own tree," Bordan said, his smile growing wider. "Plenty to choose from." The story itself was inspired by Roman history has an interesting underlying commentary on the value and consequences of imperialism. It's set in a secondary world which reminded me somewhat of Britain, perhaps because of the dimensions of the continent or perhaps because of the forest setting, its tribal residents, and the magic system based upon motes and nets and the power of life itself. I hope we get to see more of this in the next book. "We're bringing peace and civilisation," he answered, though vision of death and smoking pyres clouded his mind. "Civilisation just means a way of living," she replied, her knife moving smoothly along the wood," and we have that. One of our own, not yours. And how do you bring peace? At the tip of a sword or javelin." There's no doubt at all that I will be reading the next book. The ending took a far darker turn that I was expecting, especially given how moderate the rest of the book was, and I'm desperate to know what happens next. I'd definitely recommend this if you're looking for a well written, epic fantasy novel. As epic fantasy goes, it's an easy read but gives good bang for its buck.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book was ok. I had much too high expectations, after seeing glowing reviews from Mark Lawrence and a few other authors. I didn't really like the young magician, his one mode of communication was complaining. I liked the aging general but I don't understand why he had to kill the messenger to gain one day of silence. He couldn't be confined for one single day, he had to be killed? That set me up to dislike the general too. I was happy when the wretched royal family started getting killed off This book was ok. I had much too high expectations, after seeing glowing reviews from Mark Lawrence and a few other authors. I didn't really like the young magician, his one mode of communication was complaining. I liked the aging general but I don't understand why he had to kill the messenger to gain one day of silence. He couldn't be confined for one single day, he had to be killed? That set me up to dislike the general too. I was happy when the wretched royal family started getting killed off though. After slogging through their ridiculous behavior I was glad there would be seven deaths. It was tedious reading, since nothing felt original. Twice Kyron explains gladiators to Emlyn. I had bigger expectations from Emlyn too, given the big shout-out the author gave to "the Emlyns". From the constant naming of weaponry and armor, woad paint, and other vocabulary, I presume this is an alternate Roman Empire expansion into the UK. I'm kind of just glad to be through with this one so I move on to something interesting. I think this book just wasn't for me, since it's getting high praise elsewhere. PS - Turns out Mark Lawrence hadn't even read the book yet, much less reviewed it. My mistake!!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Becca (Horners_book_corner)

    "Seven lives and seven deaths to seal the fate of an empire." Mother forking magical fireballs! I really enjoyed this dramatic, politics filled, tale of an empire told from the perspective of an Apprentice Magician and a super big-job General. Did I guess the main villain?! Hells NO. Did I want to read the next book immediately?! Heck YES. Seven Deaths of an Empire kind of reminded me of elements of classic high fantasy series like the Belgariad, and a bit of Mistborn. You get to experience great "Seven lives and seven deaths to seal the fate of an empire." Mother forking magical fireballs! I really enjoyed this dramatic, politics filled, tale of an empire told from the perspective of an Apprentice Magician and a super big-job General. Did I guess the main villain?! Hells NO. Did I want to read the next book immediately?! Heck YES. Seven Deaths of an Empire kind of reminded me of elements of classic high fantasy series like the Belgariad, and a bit of Mistborn. You get to experience great world building through the medium of travel and learn the history of the land through both beginner and experienced sets of eyes. At points, I was actively counting deaths on my fingers to prepare myself how many more/who else might go 😂🤦‍♀️. So happy to have had the opportunity to read this, thank you to @rebellionpublishing for providing me with an early copy! If you like the sound of it, I *believe* that @goldsboro might have signed editions available for pre-order 🤩😱.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Blaise

    https://undertheradarsffbooks.com/202... I received an ARC of this book by Rebellion Publishing in exchange for a honest review. With every new release and the most anticipated books of the year, I find solace in returning to the classics of the fantasy genre. Whether being Tolkien, Tad Williams, Terry Brooks, or even Raymond E. Feist I am always envious of the literary giants whom have come before. Reading Seven Deaths of an Empire was like taking a time machine back to my childhood for an enjoy https://undertheradarsffbooks.com/202... I received an ARC of this book by Rebellion Publishing in exchange for a honest review. With every new release and the most anticipated books of the year, I find solace in returning to the classics of the fantasy genre. Whether being Tolkien, Tad Williams, Terry Brooks, or even Raymond E. Feist I am always envious of the literary giants whom have come before. Reading Seven Deaths of an Empire was like taking a time machine back to my childhood for an enjoying read of the classics once again. This is classical fantasy done for the modern reader and you will not be able to sit still for two seconds. Twists and turns, magic, war, and even death will follow your every move and you will not be able to escape. This is a highly anticipated release for a reason and you should mark June 2021 on your calendar right now! The emperor is dead in the line of combat and his body must be protected at all cost. His flame (soul and memories) must be left intact in order to be pasted down to the successor, but the tribes of the north have other ideas. We follow two main characters on our journey titled: The General and The Magician. General Bordan is an elderly man who has lived a long life and is aching for retirement. When news reaches his ears of the emperors death, he races to protect the imperial family, assemble the dukes, and determine the plans to bring the emperors body home. Kyron is a magician apprentice whom is tasked with his master Padarn to accompany the imperial caravan through the woods and back to the capital. Kyron will have to learn the essence of magic quickly in order to fend off the tribal assaults. They are in the middle of a battlefield and help will not come from the most likely source. Let me explain the great work that G.R Matthews has written for the world to enjoy. I love how he plays with the traditionally troupes of a general and magician but essentially reverses these roles in the beginning. Normally you see magicians in court and away from the battle and generals on the front line, but not here. The author is constantly making you question the moral implications of the good vs evil and which side you may fall on. The action will be coming at you from every direction and at some point you will be screaming “let me get some room to breath”, but you will want to stay below the surface once more unto the breach! Another familiar troupe in this book is religion and how it is on edge with its rival, the magicians. The church believes that the divine one left this world, but the magic left behind is sacrosanct and shouldn’t be trifled with. The magicians believe the divine left the magic or essence behind for a reason, and using it must be his will. The tension between these two factions are so intense, you could cut it with a butter knife. The chapters are relatively short and they always alternate between Bordan and Kyron. The pacing is quick, but not to the point where you feel like missing out of the world. Information will flow naturally through character dialogue with no end in sight. This book reminded me so much of when I first read Magician by Raymond E. Feist and the classic that it is. Those are high remarks but I feel that they are well earned. Are you a classical fantasy lover with shocking moments, magic, and grey characters? This is the books for you, read it! Cheers!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Yuli Atta

    A big thank you to Rebellion Publishing for sending me a review copy. I found out about Seven Deaths of an Empire on Bookstagram and was immediately drawn to it. I rarely read standalone novels, but I'm often curious about them. While I find standalones often lacking in one thing or another, I'm pleased to say that it wasn't the case with this one. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. I really liked the storytelling method even if I got confused a bit, but that's mostly due to the audiobook since I A big thank you to Rebellion Publishing for sending me a review copy. I found out about Seven Deaths of an Empire on Bookstagram and was immediately drawn to it. I rarely read standalone novels, but I'm often curious about them. While I find standalones often lacking in one thing or another, I'm pleased to say that it wasn't the case with this one. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. I really liked the storytelling method even if I got confused a bit, but that's mostly due to the audiobook since I started listening to it while I was at work and I hadn't seen the formatting. On audio, you can't really tell when the small flashbacks start and end, so for half of the book I thought there were two timelines but that's on me. There are short paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter starting from 10 years ago and working their way up to the present, which I found very intriguing. They start making sense with the progression of the story, which I loved seeing. The story itself unfolds slowly, but I actually didn't mind that. I enjoyed seeing the whole process of it and it actually managed to surprise me a lot. I didn't really know what to expect from it at all, so I was anticipating every twist and turn. I particularly enjoyed Kyron's POV. He's a magician's apprentice tasked with the job of taking the emperor's body safely to his family. What's more, I think that Kyron's part of the story truly shows the world and its depth, along with the two main clashing cultures- that of the "civilized" empire and that of the "barbarians". I loved seeing the two cultures clash when Kyron was working with his guide, who would ask him questions he wasn't ready to answer for himself, instead of giving the answers taught him by the empire. I love it when a character's views get challenged and they realize there's more to what they've been shown. I also loved seeing Kyron's personal growth, as well as his magical one. On the other side, we have Bordan, a skilled and loyal general who's served the empire for many years. His side of the story leans more on politics I believe and that's where the other half of the events take place at. I enjoyed his POV a lot too, I loved the contrast between the characters, their ages, and experience, as well as their natures. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the themes explored. To me, this is the type of novel I can't really talk about that much after reading it, but instead, I need some time to think about it and absorb it. There were a few turns of events that I really didn't expect at the end, which made my enjoyment even bigger. Another thing I also loved was the world-building, the magic, and the tribes. I would love to learn more about them, it was all so very interesting to me. Especially how the empire works and its war with the tribes, the empire's history with magic and all that. Personally, these were some of the most interesting aspects of the novel for me, and I found them fascinating.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Oliver

    ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. "The hardest truth is the realization that sometimes there is nothing you can do" Seven Deaths of an Empire is a tale about the turmoil that succession of power can lead to. The book takes place in an Empire heavily influenced by the Romans. The titular Empire is in a long-lasting conflict with the tribes surrounding its borders and one of the military campaigns leads to the death of the old Emperor. The novel focuses on people having to ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. "The hardest truth is the realization that sometimes there is nothing you can do" Seven Deaths of an Empire is a tale about the turmoil that succession of power can lead to. The book takes place in an Empire heavily influenced by the Romans. The titular Empire is in a long-lasting conflict with the tribes surrounding its borders and one of the military campaigns leads to the death of the old Emperor. The novel focuses on people having to pick up the pieces after such an event happens. The book is divided between two protagonists: The General who has faithfully served the old Emperor his entire life and The Magician who is just beginning to grasp the extent of his powers. "A sword might end a single life, but a word can lead to the death of thousands" General Bordan has to keep The Empire from dissolving into chaos during the power vacuum until the new Emperor is crowned. He has to deal with plotting dukes, rebelling crowds and a reckless crown prince who is not handling the situation very competently. It is up to Bordan to ensure The Empire remains strong while an entirely different mission is underway. The Magician Kyron is an apprentice to a powerful mage and has the task of protecting the old Emperor's dead body and escorting it back to The Empire from behind enemy lines. On the journey back he has to deal with bloodthirsty natives and zealotry priests who treat magicians as abominations of the natural order. "Fire cleansed, the priests taught, but Kyron now saw the truth, heard it in those screams. It burned. It destroyed. Lumos of charred meat, scorched store, night dark charcoal wood, the residue it left behind was a husk of all it had once been. Smoke rose upon the air, spreading the pollution, the reach of the fire, to everyone and everything, tainting with its touch. It was not holy to be cleansed, to be cremated, it was destruction. It was not a new beginning: it was the end. Fire did not create, it consumed." I had a great time reading this book and it was thoroughly entertaining all the way through. The pacing is quite fast and the chapters rather short. Structurally the PoVs alternate every chapter which worked really well for the story. It was easy to get in the "One more chapter" mindset. The plot was gripping and offered plenty of action alongside some mystery and even a few emotional gut-punches. I liked the way the novel tackled the juxtaposition of progressiveness and tradition. We saw the cultured Empire slowly dismantle the traditional lifestyles of the tribal community in favour of a progressive lifestyle. At the same time, The Empire faced a problem where their religious faction relied on tradition to weed out the magicians who were originally a huge part of the Empires own progressiveness. I was happy with the overall experience and I do strongly recommend it although it does come with a small caveat. The author has said that the novel is a complete story but has a sequel written. The sequel is currently at the agent but it isn't completely clear how many books are actually going to be released. This is where the caveat comes into play: I do not believe that it is a completed story. It works really well as a part of a series and it feels like it is designed this way from the start. Having it remain a standalone would hurt the experience and there is a lot of potential to be tapped. I really do wish to see more of this world!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anj✨

    A refreshing and engaging read, a traditional fantasy for the modern reader. Seven Deaths of an Empire is a story of a conquering empire at the peak of its power but the sudden death of the Emperor during a campaign leaves a power vacuum. The Magician Apprentice Kyron, a naïve, young man struggling to find his place in the Empire. He and his master were tasked with overseeing the safe return of the Emperor's body and the amulet to the citadel. Enter General Bordan, an old man who dedicated his life A refreshing and engaging read, a traditional fantasy for the modern reader. Seven Deaths of an Empire is a story of a conquering empire at the peak of its power but the sudden death of the Emperor during a campaign leaves a power vacuum. The Magician Apprentice Kyron, a naïve, young man struggling to find his place in the Empire. He and his master were tasked with overseeing the safe return of the Emperor's body and the amulet to the citadel. Enter General Bordan, an old man who dedicated his life to serving the royal family. He has a strong sense of honor and duty and he needs to keep the Empire from falling into chaos and protect it from machinations until the body of the emperor and the amulet is safely returned to the citadel and the new Emperor is crowned. — Seven Deaths of an Empire is a grimdark fantasy based on the Roman Empire. Told in two POVs, switching every chapter between General Bordon and Magician Apprentice Kyron. This was a refreshing and engaging read, a traditional fantasy for the modern reader. It has political intrigue, betrayals, great battle scenes, and a well-crafted world. This was a political and character-driven story. It's well written and executed skillfully. The prose is straightforward, clear, and precise. It has a solid and intricate plot. GR Matthews did a great job balancing politics, fantasy, and magic. The plot moved reasonably well. The characters are complex and realistic. I especially enjoyed seeing Kyron's development. Bordan and Kyron's POV complement each other. The world-building is top tier and well researched. It's Romanesque with its structure, culture, weapons, the conflict between the Church and the magicians, and the Empire and the tribes. The battle scenes are well written and realistic. The magic system is described well. The hows of it are simple enough to follow and visualize. It's not that powerful but it has its merits. I do hope this will not be standalone as this is a promising fantasy series. I recommend this for someone who's fed up with all the mainstream fantasy (heh) and would love to try something new. Thank you Netgalley, GR Matthews, and Rebellion for an opportunity to read this amazing book!

  22. 4 out of 5

    T.O. Munro

    I got an ARC of this epic Rebellion publishing debut, and will post a full review on the fantasy-hive in due course. and here it is https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/2021/03/se... I got an ARC of this epic Rebellion publishing debut, and will post a full review on the fantasy-hive in due course. and here it is https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/2021/03/se...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rach_Reads

    Thanks to Netgalley and Rebellion Publishers for the arc. For a debut, this is a very well written book. The prose is beautiful and descriptive. The characters are also really engaging and I enjoyed following both Kyron and Bordan's POVs and also many of the secondary characters. Kyron goes through a bit of a growth arc as well, which helps to flesh him out from a whiny apprentice at the beginning of the book. However how the two characters are linked became clear fairly quickly. Little shocked m Thanks to Netgalley and Rebellion Publishers for the arc. For a debut, this is a very well written book. The prose is beautiful and descriptive. The characters are also really engaging and I enjoyed following both Kyron and Bordan's POVs and also many of the secondary characters. Kyron goes through a bit of a growth arc as well, which helps to flesh him out from a whiny apprentice at the beginning of the book. However how the two characters are linked became clear fairly quickly. Little shocked me in this book as the foreshadowing was maybe a bit too clear. Nonetheless, these twists added depth to the plot. I have seen Seven Deaths of an Empire described as a grimdark, and I'm not sure I would agree with that. It doesn't have the bleakness and darker aspects I would expect to see in that genre. However as the title suggests, there is a lot of deaths which are a natural part of an Empire at war both internally and externally. The Roman Empire influence is clear throughout the story, but doesn't overwhelm or detract from other elements of the story. The magic system is only loosely explained and the limitations of it are not very clear. As we follow an apprentice magician there is some talk of the basics surrounding it, but not a huge amount of depth to it. Overall, Seven Deaths of an Empire was an enjoyable read and I would be interested in reading more from G R Matthews in future to see how he builds upon the skills shown in the book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    S. Naomi Scott

    DISCLAIMER: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review. My thanks to Rebellion Publishing for giving me this opportunity. My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars The Emperor is dead, having died while on campaign in the Northern forests, and a new Emperor must be quickly proclaimed to ensure the smooth running of the Empire. The problem is, before that can happen, the former Emperor’s body has to be brought home, along with the sacred pendant that DISCLAIMER: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review. My thanks to Rebellion Publishing for giving me this opportunity. My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars The Emperor is dead, having died while on campaign in the Northern forests, and a new Emperor must be quickly proclaimed to ensure the smooth running of the Empire. The problem is, before that can happen, the former Emperor’s body has to be brought home, along with the sacred pendant that carries the souls of every previous holder of the title, and there’s a whole lot of hostile territory in the way. Meanwhile, back in the capital, the former Emperor’s family and friends try to come to terms with their loss, even as the transition of power threatens to destabilise an Empire that’s existed unchallenged for centuries. Seven Deaths of an Empire is a complex book, set in a world analogous with the expansionist period of the Roman Empire and the Gallic wars in North-Western Europe, and told through the eyes of two primary characters in alternating chapters. The first of these protagonists is old General Bordan, commander in chief of the Empire’s military forces, and the former Emperor’s closest friend. Left to oversee the administration of the capital while the Emperor goes a-campaigning, it falls to Bordan to keep things running smoothly when the news of the Emperor’s death reaches the city, and to make sure the transition of power goes off without a hitch. The other protagonist is young Kyron, apprentice to the magician Padarn, and part of the force tasked with returning the Emperor’s body to the capital. Initially unsure of his own abilities, Kyron is suddenly thrust into a role he feels unsuited for and has to quickly learn to master his powers and deal with the responsibility he has been given. Each chapter also begins with mini-flashbacks that, taken together, build up the relationship between the two protagonists, and this helps define the narrative as a sort of coming-of-age novel, with Kyron as the focus of the growth and development. Certainly, the passing of the torch from one generation to the next is an important theme throughout the novel, with Bordan fighting to ensure the Imperial family holds on to its legacy despite the hurdles placed in their way. This is a remarkably well written tale, and definitely feels like the first in a series. The main characters develop in definably different ways, with Bordan proving fatalistically immovable in his loyalty to the Empire, while Kyron gradually comes to question his views and beliefs of the society he has grown up in. Despite their obvious differences, both characters are presented sympathetically, and as a result are both highly relatable in their own ways. That said, one of the things that really stands out is the way the narrative keeps the reader on their toes. Just when you think you know which way the tide is turning, a sizeable spanner gets thrown in the works, and you have to reassess everything you thought you knew. Every few chapters we’re given another twist, and every few chapters we’re made to question what we think is going on. If you like fantasy with a vaguely historical flavour and characters who grow on you, then this is definitely one you want to read. Certainly a much better than average addition to the modern fantasy bookshelf.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Traveling Cloak

    Read the review at:https://fanfiaddict.com/2021/06/01/re... Seven Deaths of an Empire is a new standalone fantasy novel from author G.R. Matthews. It is being billed as grimdark and comparable to George R.R. Martin; however, I would not make those comparisons, myself – at least not to Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. To me, this would closer to old-fashioned, classic fantasy. A big reason why I say that is that I do not consider the story to be epic in scope. It follows two storylines – those of G Read the review at:https://fanfiaddict.com/2021/06/01/re... Seven Deaths of an Empire is a new standalone fantasy novel from author G.R. Matthews. It is being billed as grimdark and comparable to George R.R. Martin; however, I would not make those comparisons, myself – at least not to Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. To me, this would closer to old-fashioned, classic fantasy. A big reason why I say that is that I do not consider the story to be epic in scope. It follows two storylines – those of General Bordan and Apprentice Magician Kyron. General Bordan is doing his best to protect the royal family after a series of assassinations takes place. His history with the family and strategic mind come very much into play during this time, and his loyalty to the Empire create some conflicts of interest. Kyron is a young Magician’s apprentice who was with the Emperor’s retinue when he was killed. Their sole purpose is to get the Emperor’s body back to the capital so they can perform the rights of succession to the next in line for the throne. This trip is not as easy as it sounds due to the group having to pass through hostile tribal lands. That is the gist of the narrative, which I really liked in the beginning of the book. It is a great idea for a story, and definitely had some potential. In my opinion, Seven Deaths of an Empire did not live up to that potential, though. In the end, the story was really basic. I spent the second half of the book looking for an aspect of the book that would take the story to the next level, but it never came. The suspense in the narrative consisted mostly of these two storylines that were on a collision course, and that was enough to keep my interest for a while. At some point, I was expecting it to elevate, though, but that just did not happen. I still enjoyed this book for what it is, but parts of it fell flat, seemed repetitive at times, and I was not a huge fan of the ending. It felt to me like the way things ended did not fit with the tone of the rest of the book. There were a decent amount of characters, which was a real positive for the book. The character set was really diverse, with each one being very distinct. My favorite was Kyron. He is a young man trying to make it as a magician and find his place in the world when he gets thrust into this incredibly difficult situation. He makes mistakes, has many learning experiences, and grows as a character in a short amount of time. There was always a lot of drama surrounding Kyron, and it added some needed tension and depth to the narrative. Overall, Seven Deaths of an Empire was an average book, which is not necessarily a bad thing to be. While I thought it could have been more, I did enjoy it for what it is: a standalone classic fantasy novel. In my opinion, it was not done any favors by being compared to Martin and labeled as grimdark. I recommend fans of fantasy check it out, but keep expectations at a reasonable level coming in.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sammy Smith

    I received an ARC from the author and can honestly say this is a page-turner. I devoured it in a day and felt for all the characters. They were layered, nuanced, and relatable. The novel is a fantastic mix of fantasy, politics, magic, relationships, and... subterfuge. I'll write a full review in due course, but you HAVE to read this! I received an ARC from the author and can honestly say this is a page-turner. I devoured it in a day and felt for all the characters. They were layered, nuanced, and relatable. The novel is a fantastic mix of fantasy, politics, magic, relationships, and... subterfuge. I'll write a full review in due course, but you HAVE to read this!

  27. 5 out of 5

    ash | novelly rooted

    I finished Seven Deaths of an Empire by G.R. Matthews. I'm going to be upfront here for a moment and say that it took me about 30% to get interested in the story, and although I enjoyed the plot overall, I was hoping for a more complex and layered story-line. The plot ended up feeling too formulaic. Depending on your familiarity with fantasy, especially adult (dark) fantasy, you may not find anything new being added to the (sub) genre and you may or may not want to go into this tempering your ex I finished Seven Deaths of an Empire by G.R. Matthews. I'm going to be upfront here for a moment and say that it took me about 30% to get interested in the story, and although I enjoyed the plot overall, I was hoping for a more complex and layered story-line. The plot ended up feeling too formulaic. Depending on your familiarity with fantasy, especially adult (dark) fantasy, you may not find anything new being added to the (sub) genre and you may or may not want to go into this tempering your expectations. “The hardest truth is the realisation that sometimes there is nothing you can do,” I do think that the marketing was a bit misleading because it was described as "an all new grimdark fantasy" for fans of "GRRM and Mark Lawrence" but it left a lot to be desired and it was not epic in nature due to a limited cast of characters doing predictable things. I'm a character first, world building second sort of reader. I enjoyed the Ancient-Rome inspired world more than some readers did, I think. What I was missing was in the characters. Most of the characters felt the same in the story- especially in dialogue. I didn't feel that there was anything distinct enough to make the characters unique. The dialogue felt too formal in every character - I enjoy more nuances. The writing and world building were average. The magic system was pretty interesting and I want to learn more about the motes and all of the different magical abilities one can have. Matthews introduces us to just enough magic to get us interested and leaves the rest to be pondered over until the sequel. The ending felt a little rushed when things began happening and I didn't exactly like how a certain character was handled. I do understand that we were learning everything as this character did which would explain the surprise of it all, but I just feel that the execution of this could've been handled better. All in all, the events near ended up missing the mark. Overall, I would recommend if you are looking for your next dark fantasy series. I am looking forward to continuing. Thank you so much for the advanced reader copy.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    *copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review* Seven Deaths of an Empire is a sprawling work of epic fantasy from G.R. Matthews. It begins, as one might expect, with a death.And, in the interest of full disclosure, it doesn’t stop with just one. What it does do is give us a complex, clever storyline with narrative threads interwoven between two disparate viewpoints in different places. What it does do is give us a world which has familiar cultural undertones, and asks thoughtful questions about E *copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review* Seven Deaths of an Empire is a sprawling work of epic fantasy from G.R. Matthews. It begins, as one might expect, with a death.And, in the interest of full disclosure, it doesn’t stop with just one. What it does do is give us a complex, clever storyline with narrative threads interwoven between two disparate viewpoints in different places. What it does do is give us a world which has familiar cultural undertones, and asks thoughtful questions about Empires, and what they are actually for. What it does do is do this through the lens of some compelling characters, and by providing intriguing mystery, kinetic, bloodthirsty combat, top-quality dialogue and believable relationships. This book is the whole package. To be fair, at over five hundred pages, it is also a pretty big package. But it’s all useful stuff. Each page carries with it some snippet of character, a witticism that makes you chuckle, another strand in the world building tapestry, or a moment that makes you think you know what’s going on - having already made you think that, and switch dit up on you a couple of times before. But I digress. The Empire is the world. Everyone outside its boundaries is a barbarian. Or at least, so those in the Empire would have you believe. And the Empire thinks it has a mission to civilise. By which it means, to assimilate. It does so by fire and sword, cracking skulls and leaving trails of bodies across a continent over centuries. One strand of the narrative follows the aftermath of one of these expeditions, into the dark forests of some as-yet unconquered tribes. The clash of cultures is as much soft power as armed force. Those outside the Empire have no desire to pay its taxes, no desire to kneel to an Emperor who burns their woods and would throw away their religion. But the Empire is there anyway, legions invincible, or at least endless. And it brings learning, and books, and indoor plumbing in its wake. Are those within it better off than those without? It’s something to ponder, and I think the text explores the nuances of liminality on the borders of strong polities really well. And it makes the forest feel alive, from the close packed trees and dark mulch underfoot, to the people within who fade in and out of sight of their adversaries, and have a rich sociocultural life of their own. And as an army retreats back through that forest to the safety of its borders, we get to see some of Imperial military life. Harsh, sometimes, hierarchical, but also a place of opportunity, and one where comrades stand by one another; where the people in the machine help bend or shape the machine.And they do so with religion and blood, yes, but also with magic, and ties of friendship and history. The other strand of story is deep within the Empire, in the capital. Here the lavish lifestyle of the aristocracy is made visible, but so too we see some regular people; all of whom seem fairly content with their lot. Sure, there are problems, but they’re not living in forests and crapping in compost heaps like barbarians. But this is a place of byzantine politics, patient schemes, and, well,murder. We’re here for the aristocracy, for their backbiting and human tragedy and moments of genuine growth - and, of course, the potential for their demise. But the world, the Empire, the marble palaces and the stone dry hills, the thronging streets and the simmering conflict between religion and magic - they all combine to help us see a living, breathing world. The viewpoints. Well, I don’t want to give much away. But we get The General, and The Magician; one steeped in the service of the Empire, mired in old struggles and old loyalties, and keen to hand over the reigns of power. The other is younger, more idealistic about their role in things, but also perhaps naive, and willing to question their assumptions. Each brings their own biases, their own weaknesses and strengths as a narrator to the table - and it’s to the author’s credit that each is a totally unique voice. When the General speaks, you can hear the world weariness seeping through his bones, the rigid armour of old competence and quiet secrets. And in the Magician is youth and hope and that simmering insecurity, and a need to do something, to choose to be better, to be, even if changing, doing, being can end badly and bloodily. In both cases, their inner lives are opened to us - well, mostly. And What we see is rich and detailed and plausible; these are people, living in the spaces we see, with friendships and enmities and, well, everything that makes people..er..people. The story I really won’t spoil. But yes, you can count the number of deaths. It’s in the title. Eqal parts murder investigation, explosive combat, suspense thriller and, well, magical shenanigans, this is all great fun. There’s enough twists and turns here that you could probably use the book to crack open a bottle of wine, and enough heartfelt emotion left on the page to make you laugh or weep. It’s a good story; at times a tragic, poignant one, at times hilarious, often thoughtful, and always interesting. If you’re a one for big fantasy tomes, this is one for you; and if you aren’t, generally, you might give this a look anyway, because it has so much going on that it may well grab your attention and not let go, much like it did mine. A very fun read!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Robert Collins

    Congratulations This wins the top fantasy book 2021 The only thing missing is sex. But who needs it when you get brutal Murders, crucified bodies, torture, madness, brutal wars and insane royal family. I glade are Royals are not like this lot. You may have difficulty work out who 7 death are after no. 4 good luck. Matthews has brilliant new fantasy a cross between Terry Brooks and David Gemmell if love brutal crime books that are different from normal this for you. The Prince cause a riot and kills t Congratulations This wins the top fantasy book 2021 The only thing missing is sex. But who needs it when you get brutal Murders, crucified bodies, torture, madness, brutal wars and insane royal family. I glade are Royals are not like this lot. You may have difficulty work out who 7 death are after no. 4 good luck. Matthews has brilliant new fantasy a cross between Terry Brooks and David Gemmell if love brutal crime books that are different from normal this for you. The Prince cause a riot and kills thousands over a statue that know one remembers he is utter twit his sister is gay witch of brutal bitch The second part of the book is that roller-coaster hell ride that is spoiler that I not tell.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Very interesting way to write a book. Told only by two of the main characters, nicely done by creating a bit more tension in the storytelling. Really recommend this one to all my good read friends who read fantasy.

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