The Emperor's Edge (a high fantasy mystery in an era of steam)

Rated 4.71/5 based on 49 reviews
Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.... More
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About Lindsay Buroker

Lindsay is a full-time independent fantasy author who loves travel, hiking, tennis, and vizslas. She grew up in the Seattle area but moved to Arizona when she realized she was solar-powered.

Also in Series: The Emperor's Edge

Also by This Author


Review by: readeroholic on Aug. 29, 2015 :
Wow! A very nice book. And the best thing about it is, it's FREE! Thank you!
(review of free book)

Review by: paige p on April 11, 2015 :
This book was really good, in fact good doesn't do it justice it was incredible. I loved this book, infact I have read it no less then three times. If you don't believe me then read it for yourselves. It FREE so read it today!!!
(review of free book)

Review by: Stan Adelman on Jan. 10, 2015 :
Great story. Excellent mix of excitement, character development, and humor. Great writing as well: throughout the book keeps your interest level very, very high. I enjoyed it so much I've just purchased the second book in the series.
(review of free book)

Review by: C C on April 08, 2014 :
Besides the intricate fantasy world that the author created, I very much enjoyed the humor in this book; it was dry and self-deprecating and made me laugh out loud. The greatest compliment I can give is that I purchased the entire series.
(reviewed 3 years after purchase)

Review by: Mak A on March 31, 2014 :
I absolutely love this book!!!! The characters are so real and enjoyable.
I love the way that amaranthe refuses to give up what she believes is right even when everything seems to say give up.... Including dying.
I love sicarius and how at first he seems to cold but warms up and eventually sticks around just cause he likes her, even if he won't admit it.... At first.
I have read almost all of her books and love the way she weaves things together and how everything comes together in the end.
I will definitely read more from her!
(review of free book)

Review by: Tamara! on March 23, 2014 : (no rating)
Fast, furious pace, descriptive, and I read it in about 3 hours, couldn't put it down! Magic and mayhem abound in a fantasy world that was just so much fun for me to read. And praise to the author for actually using words with more than three syllables, sentences that flowed easily and descriptive enough without being overly so made this a wonderful after dinner read! Great characters, all with flaws and foibles to make for some fun times and some funny times along with the edge of your seat action. Well done!
(review of free book)

Review by: Eunice Korczak on March 21, 2014 :
I'm now about to read Book 5 of the series. Love it! It's so amusing. I like reading a book that has few usage and grammar mistakes. I give the series thus far 5 stars and an excellent rating. Great entertainment!
(review of free book)

Review by: Sadie S. Forsythe on Feb. 24, 2014 :
I really enjoyed this book. It's not flawless. The incident that sets the whole thing in motion is ridiculously small and therefore the consequences unbelievable and I found some things really quite predictable. However, even with these gripes I just plain had fun with it. The writing is sharp, the dialogue witty, the characters amusing and the world interesting.

I especially liked Amaranthe and Sicarius. I'll admit that the clean-freak, OCD organised woman and the silent killer of a man are pretty cliché character traits, but they are so often used because they're amusing. So I'm going to call them classic instead. I love a strong-willed woman and I have to admit the emotionally distant warrior is one of my favourite character archetypes. Regardless, their repartee worked, as did their tenuous partnership. The rest of the group also contributed to the fun. The way they sniped at one another, but still got the job done was a laugh a minute.

Some books you just love, warts and all. This is one of those books for me. I'll definitely be on the book out for more of Buroker's works and I'm definitely reading book

Addendum: I've finished the series out now and rated them all 5 stars. I thought the latter ones did get a little ridiculous, but I still loved them all.
(review of free book)

Review by: Daphne Dale on Jan. 27, 2014 :
I wasn't sure I would enjoy this book but it was free so thought I'd give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was hooked! Books #2 & #3 purchased and ready to go so if you'll excuse me ...
(review of free book)

Review by: clarkr on Dec. 21, 2013 :
I have been reading epic fantasy for many years. This is quality epic fantasy. Very good.
(review of free book)

Review by: EngineeringElf on July 31, 2013 :
A delicious read. Four stars because I could not put it down, could not wait for the following books and could not get the characters out of my head in between reading sessions. It reminds me of Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards!
(review of free book)

Review by: Alison on June 08, 2013 :
I love this book. It is a great beginning to a fast-paced, character-driven fantasy adventure series. The Emperor’s Edge has all the ingredients for a great story: loveable characters, witty dialogue, a clever plot, evil bad guys, exciting derring-do, courageous heroics, engaging relationships, a hint of romance, and more! And…it’s a FREE e-book!

It’s a story about a motley group of mostly ordinary people who come together and fight against the evil in their city. I suppose they’re a bit like everyday superheroes – they thump the bad guys and do what’s right in the name of the empire and become the heroes they never knew they were. I like to think of it as Industrial Revolution fantasy with a bit of steampunk thrown in for good measure. There’s steam engines and magic and sword fights and trickery and it’s all a rollicking good time. I think my favorite aspect of the book is the characters and their relationships with each other; these are smart, plucky, amusing, courageous, and delightful people (yes, even the taciturn former imperial assassin and the surly teenage wizard.). The main characters are well-defined and completely enthralling – one comes to love them all and care quite deeply about their well-being. The dialogue is well-written and quite funny at times, especially as the camaraderie grows among our intrepid heroes. The tone is upbeat and lighthearted and good humor abounds. The story is quite positive in attitude; of course, there are dark moments, but the atmosphere remains optimistic throughout. You will cheer the team's triumphs and sigh at their defeats, and you will be excited for the next book, Dark Currents.

This is a fun, fast-paced, engaging novel which will keep you up all night. I highly recommend it, as well as the subsequent books in the series, which only get better as we get to know the characters and see their growth (there are six books currently, as well as various shorter pieces.). Lindsay Buroker has created a very appealing steam-driven world filled with captivating characters and exciting adventures – The Emperor’s Edge is a brilliant read.
(review of free book)

Review by: Sarah (Workaday Reads) on May 15, 2013 :
This was a fun, quirky steampunk read featuring a strong heroine. Amaranthe starts out as a good-guy all the way, and through some bad luck ends up on the wrong side of the law. She still has the best of intentions with a noble and good goal, however she is learning that sometimes rules need to be bent.

As the leader of a motley group of guys, she is the heart of the story. Amaranthe has the ability to talk her way into and out of any situation, and can get almost anyone to do anything. For example, she somehow managed to talk the world’s best assassin into not just letting her live, but also into joining her crew and helping her out.

The dialogue in this book is great. It feels real with the various characters bickering and provoking each other. Amaranthe’s smooth-talking is amusing and believable. She could totally talk me into anything.

Overall, I was surprised at how quickly this story drew me in. It has steampunk and fantasy elements, but it’s more of an adventure story than anything else. The characters are a crazy crew, and I want to see what adventures, and misadventures, they get up to next.
(reviewed 2 years after purchase)

Review by: Kahain Mueller on April 03, 2013 :
I adore this book, as well as the rest in the series. Every time I reread it I enjoy it even more.
(review of free book)

Review by: Kathleen Schmitt on March 29, 2013 : (no rating)
The Emperor's Edge (a high fantasy mystery in an era of steam) by Lindsay Buroker, Smashwords 2010.

I have enjoyed The Emperor's Edge (a high fantasy mystery in an era of steam) by Lindsay Buroker the most of any book I have read in a long time. I do not ordinarily read fantasy, and have only read one steampunk novel before, so the genres do not account for the positive experience. I think what made me love this book is the character-protagonist Amaranthe, the idealist corporal societal Enforcer. Amaranthe, for passionate loyalty to the Emperor, shifts from law enforcement to outlaw and rebel, all the while keeping her incredible cool, her warm and caring humanity, and her respect for others (except the villains, of course, although she would prefer negotiation to fighting). All other characters are drawn so specifically and endearingly that the reader can see them clearly in the mind's eye and feel like s/he knows them, whether they would be considered scum in the real world or just the walking wounded who Amaranthe manages to enlist to her cause. And the subtle and gradual revelations about Sicarius, the almost machine-like assassin, endears him to the reader as well.

The book is well-plotted, moves at a good pace and has its ample store of surprises waiting for us. The steampunk setting feels, strangely enough, quite natural. The powers that be are, as usual, in conflict. Amaranthe, Sicarius and the others choose to try to save the Emperor, rather than give in to the cold and calculating former Regent who has seized control is trying to get rid of the Emperor.

Now I am a person who feels three bodies are quite enough for a mystery book (which this is not, exactly). Here, lots and lots of people die gory deaths, which normally would put me right off. Buroker offsets that natural human aversion by means of Amaranthe's dismay, grief and regret, and as well, the horror other characters experience. Then, steampunk relates to the nineteenth century when armies were still running around, in this case, with crossbows and knives and swords. These kinds of weapons protect us from the all-out slaughter one might witness in a book set at a later time in history. In a sense, Amaranthe's world is more simple than ours, although no more predictable.

I strongly recommend this book and look forward to more from Ms. Buroker.
(review of free book)

Review by: E. Patrick Dorris on March 11, 2013 :
After opening several books on my e-reader, each in turn by popular authors, and being unable to find something that caught and held my interest, I opened Emperor's Edge and found an intriguing and entertaining read. Other reviewers have covered some of the weaknesses of the story... but the writing was so effortlessly done that I rarely found myself overanalyzing the characters and plot. It is simply an enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading more from the author.
(review of free book)
(review of free book)

Review by: Elizabeth McCoy on March 06, 2013 :
Feels like a first novel, & I'm enough of a punctuation pedant to wince now and then (plus: grisly, not grizzly!), but the dialogue is generally natural & the characters are fun. Some aspects of the plot/interactions feel simpler than is "realistic," which contributes to "first novel" feel. The action scenes, however, seem well-done -- not over-detailed, and no gratuitous thews. (Despite one character's wishes, probably!) There's a goodly number of amusing lines in it, which contributes to the overall "light" feel despite a high body count (mostly spear-carriers).

I would bet other fans of Bujold's /Cordelia's Honor/ would find this an entertaining (if with fluffier feel) read.

Usefully, while it does have a set-up for the rest of the series (of course!), it's not a frustrating cliffhanger. Always appreciated!
(review of free book)

Review by: carmen on Feb. 05, 2013 :
Girl Hero/Goodlooking Rogue...collection of well intentioned followers and young and innocent Emperor with magicial creatures ALL WINNERS loved it
(review of free book)

Review by: Stephen Flaherty on Dec. 01, 2012 :
A competent book from an author I'd never heard of. And it's free, which is why I got it. I liked this book. It was enjoyable, nice characterisation, if a little cliched at times, and an interesting plot that I didn't see all the twists of. Which is why I've given it three stars and intend to buy the next one.

5 stars - which most of the reviewers here have left - really ought to be reserved for incredible, life changing books. And this isn't one of them. But you often get a form of grade inflation on online review sites.
(review of free book)

Review by: Carol on Aug. 06, 2012 :
Great fantasy action adventure. I wouldn't have categorised it as steampunk though. Great characters and non-stop action. This is the first of a series and definitely makes me want to get the next one.
(reviewed 2 years after purchase)

Review by: Tam Winn on July 27, 2012 :
I enjoyed reading this book! It took me a bit to get used to her style of writing and I had to use the kindle dictionary to figure out some of the words but I fell in love with every character in the team.
(review of free book)

Review by: Sophia DeLuna on July 25, 2012 :
After having enjoyed reading Ice Cracker II, I was looking forward to reading The Emperor's Edge. Having read it now, I must say, it exceeded my expectations! I love the characters! The humour, the writing style and the interesting story line definitely make me want to read more of these characters' adventures.
(review of free book)

Review by: R.L. Meyers on July 12, 2012 : (no rating)
Great book! I have to admit at first I was a little wary of reading; I expected it to be mediocre. However, I was pleasantly surprised! I really enjoyed this book and fell in love with the characters!
(review of free book)

Review by: Lovey Dovey Books on May 09, 2012 :
The Emperor's Edge kept me on the edge of my seat. It has the perfect balance of politics and fantasy, and the character relationships were amusing and believable. Even the unique character names added to the flare of a different kind of world where magic may or may not be practiced and no one can be trusted. Despite not being sure exactly how some names were pronounced, the characters' personalities fit well with their given names.

Amaranthe, the ex-Enforcer and main character, was definitely admirable.She was a natural born leader, even though her efforts to save the empire had her resorting to illegal activities. She was extremely good with people and her new cohorts understood how focused she was. When her actions led to more trouble she never toyed with the idea of giving up or beat herself up to do better next time. She took everything at face value and learned from her mistakes. Her slightly skewed honor system made the story exciting.

I can't wait to continue the EE Series, joining Amaranth and the Emperor's Edge as they work towards exoneration from Emperor Sespian. The story's undercurrent of romance gives me hope that there's more than just action and adventure to look forward to.
(review of free book)

Review by: TheSFReader on May 06, 2012 :
The story is well written, with lots of witty and humorous situations and dialogues. Action doesn't miss either.
The gallery of characters is well depicted, and I had great pleasure getting to know them and see their by-plays. The setting, more "late Renaissance" than Steampunk, is interesting too, with some magic to boot.

All in all, a good book, clearly not (for me) worth 5 stars, but well worth not only the time reading, but also buying the three follow-up books.
(review of free book)

Review by: Jon Thysell on March 30, 2012 :
Not my favorite writing style (a little too verbose) but the plot was interesting and original enough. Some of the situations/dialog felt a little forced, and it definitely took a couple chapters to hook me.

I'd also classify it 70% fantasy, 20% steampunk, 10% mystery. Though I disagree with others' complaints that there wasn't enough steampunk description; the mark of an immersive world is that the characters act and react as if they actually live in it.

I think the author did a better job than most, specifically by not clumsily forcing descriptions/explanations of steampunk gadgets, treating them as casually as we would cars, planes, etc. - just a fact of life. In the same way since magic in the main character's world isn't a fact of life, she (the main character) spends suitably more time talking about it.

Worth the read, even if you have to muscle past the chapter where "Commander of the Armies Hollowcrest" is annoyingly referred to by his full title and name constantly.
(review of free book)

Review by: LisaMH on Jan. 09, 2012 :
Loved the book (and books 2 and 3 in the series, all of which I read back-to-back). Never read steam-punk before, until I came across the free version of Lindsay Buroker's short story collection Ice Cracker 2, which takes place after this one (though the time-scale is out because it supposedly takes place a year after the end of this, when Dark Currents carries on the story only three months along from this book). Wasn't too sure about that book at first, though I liked the cover and the synopsis. I've re-read it since reading this, so it now makes more sense, and it's grown on me.

Great action, great plotting, great characters - especially enjoyed the development of the relationships between Amaranthe and Sicarius, and Maldynado and Books (a great comic duo!)
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)

Review by: Nancy Beck on Jan. 02, 2012 :
This is a fantastic beginning to the series. Amaranthe is an enforcer (police) in a world vaguely reminiscent of the Victorian Era on earth. She comes face-to-face with the emperor, Sespian, while investigating a possible crime. She next gets a call from the head of the army, Hollowcrest; she is given an order to seduce/kill a known assassin, Sicarius.

Why is she chosen? She hasn't been an enforcer for too long, but Amaranthe can't disobey an order, especially as this assassin is in town to kill the emperor...

One of the fun parts of the story was Amaranthe getting together a bunch of men to do...something...and they are the unlikeliest bunch of guys you could ever imagine acting as a team. (Yet, they do, including the "pretty boy," Chippendale type, Maldynado.)

Combining humor, action, a number of gruesome scenes, and a few twists I didn't see coming, this story kept my interest throughout; the only times I stopped reading was when I had to go to bed!

Definitely worth your money! I'm off to buy the next in the series, and if it's anything like this one, I'll keep on buying! :-)
(review of free book)

Review by: sharon on Dec. 30, 2011 :
This is a great read ,I have thoroughly enjoyed it ,the characters are quirky ,the story line is very different from what I normally read a few times it had me laughing out loud . I recommend it even if steam punk isn't your thing (I've never read one before) give it a go , I'm off to read book 2..
(review of free book)

Review by: Lucie Le Blanc on Dec. 29, 2011 :
I am listening to this story on so I am not at the end yet. ;) But when I like an audio version I tend to buy the books to support the author. In this case, I will definitely do so ! This story is really different to what I am used to. It keeps surprising me and it is a nice feeling.
(review of free book)

Review by: slc333 on Dec. 17, 2011 :
Fantastic story. I the story is engaging, the dialogue witty and entertaining and the characters are delightful. Cannot recommend this book highly enough.
(reviewed 50 days after purchase)

Review by: Jenna Elizabeth Johnson on Dec. 10, 2011 :
Having finished The Emperor's Edge, I have to say I'm extremely pleased with my purchase. The book itself is well-written; the author using a varied vocabulary with a dash of humor nestled amongst the dialogue. The characters, in my opinion, are wonderful. Amaranthe, the main female protagonist, is a very strong lead and comes off as a genuine, able leader. Her companions, all male of varying ages and `occupations', are very likeable as well and the diverse relationships between all of them grow throughout the book.

I won't give a synopsis, since that is provided in the book description, but I'm much impressed with the author's style and the world she has created. Miss Buroker has managed to interlace a fast-paced and well executed plot while creating a cast of characters that, while sporting their handful of faults, bring along a list of assets and virtues as well. I can't wait for the sequel to come out, and I'll be sure to check out her other books while I'm waiting.
(review of free book)

Review by: calebblake on Nov. 13, 2011 : (no rating)
Can a fugitive enforcer redeem herself? Does the kingdom's most wanted and deadly assassin have a heart? Can a motley crew of outcasts save the emperor?

Back in the 1980s, people enjoyed watching "The A-Team", a team of renegade ex-somethings that performed good samaritan tasks while being hunted by the law. These days, a more sophisticated equivalent may be "Leverage" where an ex-insurance investigator creates and leads a team of criminals in performing good samaritan tasks while avoiding the scrutiny of both baddies and goodies. "The Emperor's Edge" is a fantasy steampunk-ish novel that is cut from a very similar cloth. In fact, the first novel reads like a movie-length pilot episode for an ongoing series - and it is the first book of a series.

Amaranthe Lokdon, the main character, is a strong woman in a man's career, proving herself first as an enforcer and then as a fugitive attempting to uncover and stop a plot against the emperor. She has attitude, almost always knows what to say, can sway most people to follow her with her fervour and determination and spends a great deal of time trying to gain the trust of a notorious assassin. There are moments between these two in the book that I could see quite clearly on the small screen: meaningful looks, sassy banter, dry and sarcastic retorts and a fair amount of secrecy and distrust. It becomes the "will they, won't they" stuff of which television series are made.

There's a bit of well-disguised ogling at the male form in many scenes and a reasonable amount of blushing, but the author never actually presents a romantic scene. Again, the sexual tension would have suited television quite well where fans would have relished the eye-candy while savouring the addictive frustration of fancies unrequited. The quiet and hit-and-miss relationship that develops between the main character and the assassin is quite entertaining with the assassin remaining unfathomable and Amaranthe becoming more determined to penetrate his mysteries.

And then there's the story.

There is a plot to assassinate the emperor. It sounds pretty simple, but the author slowly paints a picture of an atypical emperor and the various special interest groups/persons who might want to unseat him to maintain the status quo. Concerned parties and their plots are gradually uncovered by the enforcer-on-the-run and her motley crew. I found the pace quite satisfying. Everything was not revealed at once, but rather in small doses after key scenes. And in the downtime, Amaranthe and her crew put together a plot of their own. Actually, this could have been a rather slow moving part of the story, but the author made sure that the development was punctuated with ample action scenes and even the introduction of something sinister prowling the streets of the empire at night.

All threads eventually meet and there are some fairly dramatic revelations. But just when it seems that our team is successful, there's another turn of the wheel, and then another. Again I'm reminded of a very well-written television drama - keeping the audience off-balance, taking them through one more leg of the journey on the edge of their seats. It's good stuff.

So what didn't I like? Not much, to be honest. I did find Amaranthe a little too successful in negotiation and planning. I can see where she might need to have been talented in this area as a successful woman enforcer in a world full of men. Negotiating and perhaps manipulating men would have been a necessity. She was obviously talented as an enforcer which explains her success in investigation and deduction. However, it sometimes felt a little far-fetched. On the other side, the impressive assassin was just a little too impressive for me. He moved like a super-hero and it would almost have been in keeping with his portrayal to see him leap tall buildings in a single bound.

That said, I found it easy to easy to put aside my relatively small issues with the book and sit back and enjoy a story which could well find its way to prime time television. Move over "Leverage", this is the "A-Team" of steam.
(reviewed 6 months after purchase)

Review by: Kelly Christensen on Nov. 02, 2011 :
LOVED THE BOOK!!!! I started listening to it as a podcast novel but the story completely grabbed my attention and I had to read it quickly. I'm on book two now and am equally happy with the story and quality of writing. I plan on reading other books of Lindsays as I enjoy her writing style.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: mysteryhorse on Sep. 23, 2011 :
Until reading The Emperor's Edge, I was uninterested in the steampunk genre and would stick to more "traditional" fantasy novels that focused on vampires, werewolves, and other such creatures of myth or legend. As a fan of strong female protagonists, I took a step outside my usual fare of vampire slayers and demon hunters and picked up a copy of Lindsay Buroker's Ice Cracker II short story (featuring the characters in The Emperor's Edge). Like only the best short stories can do, Ice Cracker II drew me in and made me want to read more about the fascinating characters. I was thus compelled to pick up a copy of The Emperor's Edge to see if the full-length book would live up to the promise shown in the short story.

From the start, the engaging heroine pulled me into the novel and made me forget my reticence of the unknown steampunk genre. The story was fast-paced with distinct, interesting characters and the interaction between Amaranthe and Sicarius was particularly enjoyable.

Although I noticed a few very minor typos, there were none of the usual glaring grammatical errors that often characterize indie authors. I enjoyed not being derailed in the middle of my reading by having to stop and untangle awkwardly phrased sentences.

For any others who are as wary as I was of diving into the world of steampunk, I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and give The Emperor's Edge a try. I'm glad I didn't pass over this novel just because it was outside my usual tastes and am eager to read the sequel.
(reviewed 12 days after purchase)

Review by: Isobelle Clare on Sep. 17, 2011 :
A word of warning - the subtitle of The Emperor’s Edge is “a high fantasy mystery in an era of steam.” As a mystery reader myself, I think calling it a mystery is probably mistaken, and I doubt this book would appeal to mystery fans. Fantasy and steam are the two key words here.
The book opens with Corporal Amaranthe Lokdon (an “enforcer” or police officer) being called to the scene of a fire. We learn that in the world of the book women dominate business, but are excluded from other roles, and Amaranthe’s role as the first female enforcer has caused some friction. The fire kicks of a series of events that forces Amaranthe to go on the run and assemble a group of misfits on a mission to save the emperor.
In terms of plot, the book is well-paced but the plot itself seems underdeveloped in places. It is possible that Buroker has left some aspects to be developed further in a sequel or series, but there are a few too many unexplained incidences for my liking.
Rather than plot, the strength of this book is its characters. A more hard-nosed reviewer would probably say that they lack originality. But they are just so damn likeable! Amaranthe is a painfully honest school-prefect type at the beginning of the book, but she gradually changes as she discovers that people in authority aren’t always right. She’s a nerd and a dag in the best way, someone who stubbornly refuses to compromise her values. Unlike too many fantasy novels, she is not beautiful, or endowed with special strengths. As a character I found her incredibly endearing. The other characters are less well fleshed out, and many of Amaranthe’s team appear to be there primarily for comic relief. However, they redeem themselves by being laugh-out-loud funny, The hunky male-model type without much of a brain is comic gold.
The other important component of a book such as this is the setting. Buroker does a relatively good job of setting the scene gradually, without dumping too much world-building information onto the reader. However as a whole it somehow failed to convince me. Perhaps it is because I haven’t really engaged with t he steampunk movement, but to me this felt a lot like standard fantasy with added steam. One issue that left me uncomfortable was the use of magic in a book that is supposed to be based on the pseudo-scientific principles of steampunk. Although it was dressed up as “mental sciences” it seemed primarily there in order to facilitate certain elements of the plot. I think it would have been a better book if Buroker had been able to devise ways to move the story forward without this additional element to confuse matters.
So ultimately, would I recommend this book? I have read some truly bad (traditionally published) fantasy in my time and this was certainly not in that category. It was an enjoyable read and I would like to spend more time with the characters and see how Buroker fleshes out their world. If there is a sequel, I will probably buy it. It’s not in my list of top books of all time, but fo the price of a cup of coffee I spent an entertaining few hours.

If you enjoyed this, you can read more of my reviews on
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)

Review by: Estara Swanberg on Sep. 01, 2011 :

Okay, this book might shine even more without some of the deus-ex-machina twists that happen to the action, but the author is very good at creating great characters and character dialogues and interactions. I like that Amaranthe, even when she loses everything right at the start, keeps her impulses of OCD (I think? She's a cleaning freak, in any case) because they help her deal with the shock of what is happening.

If you let yourself fall into the whole caper and action situation (I'm reminded of the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink nature of Around the World in 80 days, for example) then some of the plot weaknesses won't really come up and you'll enjoy the dark enigma of the utterly unapologetic assassin striking a partnership deal with a female former cop, who was never appreciated in her previous role but had chosen it (partially because she had lost the money to go to business school) to better herself and really likes sticking by the rules - or so she thinks.

There's actually a lot of female empowerment in the various shady and straight female business powerhouses that Amaranthe meets during her quest. The whole country is on the cusp of the warrior/soldier aristocracy class losing its power, because commercial interests are actually the ones starting to wield it - and those have a large percentage of female owners.

The fact that Amaranthe meets on of her wary misfit group of helpers at an escort service for wealthy business and aristocratic ladies speaks volumes.

Another aspect of female empowerment is that Amaranthe can strategize until her battle plans come into contact with reality and THEN she manages to talk her way out of various scrapes by sheer ingenuity (not by trading on her feminine wiles, although it's made clear that she's actually quite good-looking) until she has breathing space to make further decisions.

Really, she reminds me a lot of Miles Vorkosigan's situation in Warrior's Apprentice - and you can think of Sicarius (as long as you can imagine him as the one-person killing machine the book sets him up as) as her personal Dendarii fleet: she has to learn how far she can use his powers, but he could just as well decide to finish her.

We only find out in the very last pages why Sicarius is willing to work with her, and by that time it is believable that the rest of the motley crew have enough loyalty towards Amaranthe's aims (out of personal self-serving grounds, none of the men is a Samaritan by nature) that they'll let her involve them with various further plans towards the final aim: supporting the current Emperor (who is a really nice guy, actually) and clearing their names.
(reviewed 37 days after purchase)

Review by: venmars1 on Aug. 18, 2011 :
I liked the relationship between Amaranthe and Sicarius. How they worked together to achieve essentially the same goal and how they kept the members of their team together.

I also liked the plot and it's many twists even if they were a bit predictable.

What I didn't like was how easily Amaranthe convinced Sicarius to work with her. And how about how quickly she found the perfect members for her team. It just didn't seem realistic. But other than that it was still a great read.
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)

Review by: Kelson Lucas on Aug. 16, 2011 :
An awesome read full of twists and turns in the era of steam. The Emperor's Edge provides plenty of excitement and adventure while presenting three dimensional characters with faults and virtues who live very human lives. They make mistakes, own up to them and make the best of the ones they can't fix.

The main character, Amaranthe, comes across as organic, if a bit overeager in the trust department. The conflict between her aims and methods to save the emperor provide a continuous, poignant tension throughout.

Her crew of misfits give a whimsical air to their otherwise serious endeavor. The sprinkling of magic was tantalizing and I am eager to find out more about Stumps, the Empire and the rest of Amaranthe's world.

An excellent and engaging story that will leave you wanting more. Thank you for the journey Lindsey.
(reviewed 24 days after purchase)

Review by: ggrise on Aug. 07, 2011 :
Excellent read, follow-on to Encrypted and the 2 second Dark Current book is excellent as well . Can't wait for the next book in the series. Thank you Lindsay.
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)

Review by: bucksheewheeler on July 18, 2011 :
I loved this book! The characters are engaging and two-dimensional. They make mistakes and have to work through problems which makes them very believable.

The book is wonderfully written and the story seems to race by. I ended up staying up just to find out what happened. I've just got the next book and I can't wait to read it!
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)

Review by: Caroline Cryonic on July 04, 2011 :
The Emperor’s Edge is a charming and exhilarating fantasy adventure set in an era of steam. It follows Amaranthe, a lawful good-type police officer, who ends up being charged for crimes against the throne. She finds herself working with unlikely allies, including an amoral assassin, as they try to stop nefarious plots to kill the emperor, with a lot of adventure, mystery, and humour.

It’s fast-paced, action-packed, and it grabbed me right from the first page. It keeps a playful tone with a lot of banter and witty commentary on each page. With the writing style’s wit and genre-savvy moments, I’ll venture out on a limb and compare it to Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. Buroker also does the world-building so smoothly that the reader doesn’t notice that they’ve absorbed essence of the city of “Stumps” with each newspaper headline of bear attacks on Wharf Street and each strange beheaded statue.

The world is really interesting. It’s high fantasy, yet it takes place in an empire where magic is outlawed and is only used by foreign subversives or urban gangs. Amaranthe working as an enforcer is quite the exception, as women have dominated the eras of commerce, but haven’t been accepted in other sectors of this militaristic empire. It’s filled with lively interactions between denizens of various social classes, and it makes the setting very distinctive.

Amaranthe is a likeable and memorable protagonist. She has some combat ability, but her skill lies in persuading others to work with her and coming up with creative ways to solve problems. There’s quite a bit of chasing, escaping, and combat, and it’s all refreshingly fun to read because of the original methods she employs. She uses a lot of odd props and the environment to her advantage, and comes up with a zany but practical plan to save the emperor. The other characters are also lively individuals with a lot of depth, and I liked every member of their misfit crew.

What makes this book especially strong is the conflict between Amaranthe’s goals and the amoral approaches to attaining them. While there are a few evil guys, everyone else is just a normal person doing their jobs. She feels sympathy for many of the mooks that they have to take down, because she used to be an enforcer just like them. I liked how she didn’t take the decision to harm others lightly, and the choices she made were consistent with her values.

There were a few eyebrow-raising moments. I felt like that a few humourous quips were taken too far, as they didn’t fit the tone of the scene. I was also a bit skeptical of the extent of Amaranthe’s ability to charm others. Somehow for me, it wasn’t established that Amaranthe was that charming until midway through the story. But these moments only happen a couple of times, so these are minor nitpicks that won’t affect your enjoyment of this book.

The Emperor’s Edge is a fantastic novel, and it’s one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year. If you’re looking for a fantasy adventure, you really can’t go wrong with this one. It’s highly recommended and I’m definitely reading the sequel.

Note: a free review copy was provided by the author.
(reviewed 42 days after purchase)

Review by: Readin Chillin on July 02, 2011 :
I give the novel five stars. I really am not a fan of steampunk but I found this book to be an adventurous, mystery/fantasy and entertaining read. I like the authors writing style which painted a vivid pictures of the settings, characters, action. I enjoyed the conversations the characters engaged in and it gave me a chuckle. Amaranthe was fantastic. Everyone loves a strong woman.
Highly recommend!
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)

Review by: Claire Rooney on June 26, 2011 :
To my knowledge, I've never read anything that might be considered "steampunk", but because I love the author's blog, I decided to pick up all of her novels. I started with The Emperor's Edge and I'm so glad I did.

The word I'd use to describe this book is "fun". Everything struck the right cord for me. The plot is excellently constructed with foreshadowing and minor details coming to play later in surprising ways. The main conflict is resolved, but the "tag" at the end, promises much more adventure and danger, and I, for one, will be following along for the ride.

The characters are a joy. Every one of them has strengths and flaws that bring them to life in cinematic flavour. Their interactions with each other are wholly believable and endearing. In fact, most of what made this such an enjoyable book is their interplay.

I could quite easily picture this story transformed into a screenplay and brought to life on the big screen. It's not a text that wastes any time, and that makes it perfect for those of us who are more visually minded. Plus, it has, I thought, an extremely strong female character that outshines most "strong" female characters on-screen these days, simply because she utilises her own strengths, rather than tries to mimic a man's.

The style of writing is crisp and easy to get sucked into. It was, as another of my beloved on-screen characters might say, electromagnetic candy. Read it when you're having a bad day, and it will certainly perk you up.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: AKK on June 13, 2011 :
The Emperor's Edge is a fast-paced, character-driven page-turner which -- together with the related short story collection _Ice Cracker II_ and EEs just published sequel _Dark Currents_ -- literally gobbled up my last weekend, including the nights.

The imaginative - and neatly anal-retentive - female (former) police officer Amaranthe and the taciturn, mono-if not no-syllabic (not-quite-former) assassin Sicarius (yes, the one from _Encrypted_, but as a grown man now!) are an irresistible composition.

The setting is a refreshing genre mix with elements of steampunk, cop story, military and fantasy rolled into one to form an utterly compelling, self-carrying world that reminds as much of 19th Century London as of 19th Century Moscow.
Language and the style of the story-telling remind me of Lois McMaster-Bujold's early Barrayar books (most notably Shards of Honor), but the dry wit & humor shown by the well-defined characters are utterly unique and not to be missed.

I hope this series continues soon (though I would love seeing _Encrypted_, playing in the same universe but 25 years before the events in Emperor's Edge, continued as well).
(reviewed 5 months after purchase)

Review by: Bob on May 02, 2011 :
Loved it! This was one of those books that I stay up late reading. The characters were great, I also liked the time setting of steam and cross bows.

I hope this is going to be a continuing series. I would defiantly read more. I highly recommend to the fantasy / sci-fi group.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)

Review by: Anke Wehner on March 27, 2011 :
I had a lot of fun reading it thanks to witty dialogue, interesting worldbuilding, and, oh, the plot...

What happens, in one sentence? A former police officer and a hyper-competent assassin (and a few other misfits) try to stop a plot against the young Emperor by counterfeiting money.

It makes more sense in context. I love stuff like that. I'll mentally shelve it along with "military-school dropout becomes admiral of a space mercenary fleet by accident" (The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold).

The book has a subtitle/tagline of "a high fantasy mystery in an era of steam". The setting is a nice blend of genres, this book taking place in or around the capital of a militaristic and industrial empire where things just happen to be run by steam (occasionally involving punchcards), without the preoccupation with gadgetry that I associate with Steampunk. Magic does crop up, but isn't common - the Empire's official position is that a) it doesn't exist and b) it's banned.

What makes this take on saving the country interesting is the perspective. Amaranthe, who is our viewpoint character most of the time, nearly finished business school before entering what the Empire has for a police force, which informs a lot of her actions, such as recruiting a male escort for her cause on the basis of "someone that good-looking is bound to get good deals from businesswomen. (By the by, I think by making running businesses "women's work", Lindsay Buroker nicely balanced the "What, a woman Enforcer? How cute" chaff Amaranthe catches early on.)

Amaranthe is rather on the idealistic side, and her greatest strength seems to be talking people into things.

Sicarius, the assassin she is sent to kill but teams up with since he seems to be on the Emperor's side, by contrast is practical, amoral, and emotes about as much as a rock for most of the book. (We also don't get into his head.) He's so hyper-competent when it comes to killing people that he gets away with dressing in black accessoried with an armoury of knives in plain view, which I find rather hilarious, but may say more about the setting than anything else, come to think of it.

The second viewpoint character is the young Emperor. There are considerably fewer scenes from this perspective than from Amaranthe's; it seems to work rather well together.

The plot is fast-paced, somewhat twisty, and well interwoven, and thus for me a joy to follow. The book is a bit on the zany side, so I'd say it needs some more willingness to suspend disbelief in favour of rule of cool/rule of funny than some other books out there.

Content warnings? There's violence of various stripes (between an assassin and an evil empire, to be expected) and an attempted rape.

Proof-reading and formatting? I spotted something like three typos (and that the writer prefers "a couple [things]" over "a couple of [things]").
A few chapters had, on my reader and at my chosen font size, an empty page before the start of the next chapter. I'm quite sure that has to do with following the Smashwords Styleguide, which concerns making one master file to be converted into several formats, not all of which honour page breaks.
The book also has the neccessary meta-info that lets me jump to chapters through my reader's "table of contents" function.
That makes this book better proof-read and formatted than at least half the titles I got from big publishing houses.

Bottom line: Under aforementioned caveat, I recommend it highly. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel.
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)

Review by: K. Gorman on Feb. 24, 2011 :
This book kept me up at night. And made me late for class. A definite screen-turner, if I can use the phrase. The characters were what really drove the book. All very well developed, changing and adapting as the story progressed. I hear there is a sequel in the works, and I am finding it hard to wait for the release. Kind of like when I read The Hunger Games.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

Review by: Sherri Meyer on Feb. 23, 2011 :
Buroker's world building was solid without burdening the story and had a bit of a steampunk feel. Where Buroker shined was in her characters. They were all fully developed, even the secondary ones, and I had a good sense of their motivations.

The heroine, Amaranthe, started out as a 'by the books' officer but as the story progressed she had to change and grow. She was a strong female character who could fight her way out of a mess if she had to but was just as likely to talk her way out of trouble. She becomes the leader of her little band of misfits somewhat out of default, another layer to her character as she struggled to fit into that role.

The hero (anti-hero?), Sicarius, was everything you could wish for in an assassin. I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding him that we learn bit by bit along with the heroine. Buroker did a masterful job of making me sympathize with Sicarius though arguably he's more villain than hero.

I loved the banter between these two characters. It often stole the show for me. Add to that the diverse characters within Amaranthe's gang and there were times I laughed out loud. This is a fantasy so I wasn't expecting a romance to develop between the leads yet I could see where their respect and friendship might someday lead in that direction.
(reviewed 41 days after purchase)

Review by: Richard Hocking on Feb. 17, 2011 :
Just started reading this book but have read a previous short book, or rather it was supposed to be story directly following this one. Found both stories to be very good and have enjoyed reading them would recomend sci-fi and fantasy readers to buy books.
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)

Review by: Josephine Harvey on Feb. 03, 2011 :
Well, I read a ton of all types of fantasy and have pretty high standards for the genre, but I L-O-V-E-D this book. The steampunk-esque elements make it unique, though it keeps all the best aspects of traditional high fantasy as well. And I loved the characters--the #1 most important factor to me in enjoying a book. I really hope it will be the first in a series, and you'd better believe I'll be snapping up the rest as soon as they come out.
(reviewed 10 days after purchase)

Review by: A Sylvana on Dec. 27, 2010 :
A good fantasy adventure with solid writing and editing. The events in this happen before the Ice Cracker short story, which I read first, and show how the characters first got together. The main character Amarenthe is very proactive in snooping around and making things happen so there aren't really any slow spots in the novel. The plot itself has a lot of familiar elements like empires and wizards and creepy monsters, but there are lots of original twists and turns. Some unique settings too. I liked the steam-powered maze and the showdown in the smelter. Good read overall.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)

Review by: Amber Miller on Dec. 24, 2010 :
This is a mystery/adventure fantasy novel in an urban setting that reminded me of an 1800s London or New York. I wouldn't call it steampunk or swords & sorcery but it has elements of both. The story is fairy fast-paced and there isn't a ton of the world-building you often see in the fantasy epics (religion is only lightly touched upon and magic is mostly in the hands of the enemies so it's not a big part of the story), but I didn't mind. The characters were what made this an enjoyable read for me. I was pleased when I read the epilogue because it was clearly setting things up for future novels with these guys (this works fine as a standalone story though).

Amaranthe, the main character, started out as something of a goody-two-shoes, quoting regulations at the criminals she was arresting, but she grew a lot as the story went along, and she was the one leading the team and coming up with the schemes in the end. I liked that she was a strong female character but not boringly so (no uber skills that let her hack down legions of soldiers single-handedly). She can handle herself in a fight, but she's just as likely to scheme her way out of trouble.

Sicarius, the other main character, is everything you'd expect from an assassin, but he felt quite original as well, and I was even more intrigued by the mystery surrounding him than the main plot mysteries. One of the big questions about him does get answered by the end of the book (I was close with my guess, but didn't get it quite right), but it left me with new questions that better be answered in following books! The author did a nice job making me like him and sympathize with him even though he's arguably still more of a villain than a hero in the end.

The relationship between these two was what I really enjoyed. I have to admit I was hoping for a kiss by the end, but if things are going that direction, it'll have to be in a future book.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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