Source: Penguin Random House – I received this in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Daw Books
Series: Sun Eater #1
Edition: eARC, 619 Pages
Genre: Epic Science Fiction
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.
It was not his war.
The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives–even the Emperor himself–against Imperial orders.
But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.
On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world.
Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.
Empire of Silence is a tome. It’s dense and has a story that is so meaty it might as well be a feast. If you are a fan of epic stories that are not afraid to delve into the culture and have lengthy moments that explore the depth of not only the worlds but the characters themselves, then this is one to check out! It’s one that will be sure to leave an impression.
EoS’s story (and the summary above) blatantly tell you how it ends, and the story itself is a reflection by the main character Hadrian. We know where this journey will lead him, but I urge you not to be discouraged by this because he’s not a character that is easily predicted. Hadrian is someone who comes from a place of privilege and is knocked low, he is someone who struggles with pride but wishes for humility. I love Hadrian and all of his odd complexity. He is raised to be the symbol of power, he knows how to fight and speak to people, but he wants knowledge and to explore a universe free of conflict. He has flaws and he frequently sees the consequences of decisions he has made due to those flaws. We even get his older self’s perspective on the things he does, and he frequently points out the moments he wishes he had taken more time to understand something. In these reflections, we see even more humility and get a sense of the man he is, which contrasts with the actions he knows he takes. I think that alone would have been enough for me to continue, just to see why someone who wanted so badly to explore and understand everything would become known as a destroyer of an entire species.
Then there is the massive amounts of world building and character development for the side characters. This book is no small feat and where we see Hadrian fleshed out to the full extent, we also see the universe around him. There are many cultures and social classes to understand, a religion that frequently steps over the line of domination, and alien races that are vilified. This is only the first book in the series and the world is already massive. It takes a lot to make a convincing empire in a different solar system, and even more to place a few alien races and several different languages into it. The world of Delos, where Hadrian is from, feels so different from the world of Emesh, where Hadrian ends up later. The Chantry, the religious body, is one that made my skin crawl every time one of their emissaries uttered the world heresy but the entire context of their religion was fascinating and see how it related back to human’s origins was really cool.
There is so much to say about Empire of Silence that I feel I could ramble for hours about it. I could talk about how Hadrian’s relationships were all too real and the fact that having a character built for power strives for learning is just the best thing ever, but I think I can spare everyone that eight paragraph review and simply say: If you love epic sci-fi then this is a must! I see this carefully detailed series going far, and I really hope to see more people give it a chance.