Pope Benignus is dying, and the man who takes his throne will hold the reins of an empire.
Conspiracies swirl like shadows around Livia, the pope's daughter, who refuses to be anyone's pawn: chasing the whispers of a deadly coup, she vows to expose the truth and save her church from disaster. Livia has secrets of her own, though, and one wrong move could cost her life and her soul.
Felix is the scion of a dying merchant house, a man with just one chance to save his family and the woman he loves. His last hope lies in the snowbound hell of Winter's Reach, a former prison colony turned "free city" under a brutal tyrant's reign.
Livia and Felix have never crossed paths, but they've both been snared in a far greater web than they can imagine. They - along with a pair of veteran bounty hunters, an exiled politician, and a sadistic coven of witches - are cogs in one man's apocalyptic plan for revenge. A plan that, if it succeeds, will leave an entire nation in flames.
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A solid story
Her voice was pleasant to listen to and was a backdrop the story, which is good as it makes the experience more about the story than about the narrator.
Note: This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com.
This book has a fairly large cast of characters, which makes it slightly difficult to listen to as an audiobook versus reading in print. Although I enjoy listening to audiobooks, I am very much a visual learner, so it took me a while before I was able to fully place each of the characters and remember from scene to scene who was who and how their stories were interconnected. (I probably should listed to the beginning again just to get the clarification once I got to know all the characters.) Therefore, I found that I really needed to concentrate on listening to the book to keep everything straight and follow along with the story, so you might want to keep that in mind depending on your own audiobook preferences (this obviously will matter less if you are reading the book in print--I don't think it's very confusing, so keeping the characters and details straight shouldn't be too much of a challenge).
The plot has a lot of politics involved, with different families plotting to gain power for their families or themselves as individuals. The church is also very much involved within the political scheme. A couple of characters do stand out from this plotting: Felix, whose actions are shaped by him wanting to save his family from downfall yet at the same time wanting to be with the woman he loves (and of whom his family does not approve); Amadeo, who serves the pope and seems to make choices that are much less self-serving than others--he truly seems to be the only really religious person in the mix; and Livia, the pope's daughter who finds a book that offers possibilities and danger.
The story is gritty. If you're looking for something happy and light, this is not the book for you. With the multiple points of view and the very real stakes the characters are playing for (not all of them make it out alive or unscathed), in many ways it resembles the Game of Thrones series. With lots of twists and turns, and especially toward the end as the many plot threads started to come together, it is a gripping story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. But if you find yourself fully invested in the story, you'd better have the next book (The Instruments of Control) available because all of the characters have been set up, ready for their action in the next book; very few story arcs are resolved (which is typical of this genre).
As for me, I enjoyed the book and am glad that I gave it a chance. And I will probably move forward with the series at some point, but for now I have a few other books that are calling to me that I'd like to read first. So since I am able to put this story and these characters aside for a while, as much as I liked the book, that means I'll give it 4/5 stars.
- Karen R. "I'm an avid knitter and reader, so I love combining the two by listening to audiobooks."
- 1-Click Junkie "Rabid Listener/Reader and Shopper!"