Foto do autor

Erin M. Evans

Autor(a) de The Adversary

11+ Works 653 Membros 24 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Includes the name: Erin M Evans Erin M. Evans

Séries

Obras de Erin M. Evans

The Adversary (2013) 151 cópias
Empire of Exiles (2022) 113 cópias
Brimstone Angels (2011) 101 cópias
Fire in the Blood (2014) 63 cópias
Lesser Evils (2012) 62 cópias
Ashes of the Tyrant (2015) 42 cópias
The Devil You Know (2016) 33 cópias
Relics of Ruin (2024) 12 cópias

Associated Works

Realms of the Dead (2010) — Contribuinte — 77 cópias
Hath No Fury (2018) — Contribuinte — 28 cópias
When the Hero Comes Home: 2 (Volume 2) (2013) — Contribuinte — 2 cópias

Etiquetado

Conhecimento Comum

Membros

Resenhas

The conspiracy at the heart of the empire has been revealed. The Archivists played a key role in solving a brutal murder and uncovering one of the empire’s longest kept secrets. Now, what’s left in its wake are a series of unearthed artifacts, one shaken city, and the shocking truth not dared spoken aloud. Just as the empire has begun to regain normalcy, another mystery unveils itself when a stolen ancient relic is found. Only no one knew that it was missing from its sacred vault in the first place. And now that the real one has been recovered, who replaced it with a fake? With Quill and Amadea at the heart of another mystery, they will need to quickly follow the clues that all lead back to this new relic. Because all the while, an old enemy is gathering strength beyond the Salt Wall and the Archivists might come to find there’s nowhere left for them to go but over.… (mais)
 
Marcado
rachelprice14 | Nov 16, 2023 |
The unlimited possibilities of the genre make fantasy so enticing to me, and Empire of Exiles by Erin M. Evans, one of the best books of 2022, takes full advantage of that. Its setting is one of the most unique I’ve read in years. The character’s motivations, voices, flaws, and quirks are so well-defined that it is difficult to pick a favorite. The plot is a murder mystery, a thriller, and a fantasy all at once. It contains many secrets, twists, and turns that make the pages fly by. That includes flashbacks of an infamous usurper in his final days that serve as a framework device for the present-day mystery. Suffice it to say, I ate this delicious meal of a book up in quick succession. It’s the kind of book I’ll recommend to everyone to read simply so there are more people to talk to about it.

Everything starts with a murder-suicide. Quill’s best friend and fellow scrivener, Karimo, murders some important figures at a party and then kills himself at a party just as Quill arrives to hear his last words. What starts as a simple scrivener through grief is trying to make sense of how the Karimo he’s always known to take pride in the law could be the same one who commits this heinous crime. This begins a snowball effect leading to a grander conspiracy involving the royal family, a former childhood romance, a poison not seen in years, and an assassin gone missing after a failed coup. In a way, everything starts with that coup when Duke Redolfo Kirazzi’s conspiracy to usurp the crown and put his pawn on the throne. He failed, and we see his final days before his execution when his brother comes to visit. This frames the modern-day mystery to a surprising climax, with me biting my nails and foregoing sleep to finish the book. Who needs sleep anyway?


Actually, all of this starts with changelings, whether they be monsters or a race of people themselves, that can take the form of your loved ones, your neighbors, and your leaders looming over the entire story. The threat of changelings is a constant that underlines a lot of conflict in the story, especially the political ones, with their only protection a large salt wall that keeps the changelings out but also keeps them all trapped in. People of multiple nations forced to flee their homelands, histories, and cultures to all squeeze into this one nation at the continent’s edge is an idea for a world rich with possibilities. The world-building is weaved so well into the intrigue, the mystery, the conspiracy, and the overall plot that you’ll not realize you’re being taught about the Imperial Federation of Semillan Protectorates, or Semilla for short, as it goes along. Politics are front and center in this fantasy mystery thriller of a book as it takes place in Arlabecca, the capital of Semilla, the same city that contains the Imperial Archives, holding what could be saved from the old world.

However, the Imperial Archives is the backbone of this book. A request for artifacts within is the catalyst of the inciting incident; it is an integral point of interactions for the POV characters; it is where the book’s best secrets are kept and then revealed, and what may be most important of all is where we learn about the world’s magic system. People with affinity magic can speak to and manipulate particular objects like bronze, ink, and bones, but some have too much of it. The Archive’s specialists often have affinities so strong that the material they connect with can overtake them physically and mentally to the point of hurting themselves and others. This level of affinity magic reads like anxiety and panic disorders, but Evans never writes them like they are a weakness, which is both commendable and remarkable. Even when the characters think of it as a weakness themselves, they have a support system to talk them down and hype them up. Like all great fantasies, secrets about the magic of this world are hinted at throughout Empire of Exiles. Still, no matter what is revealed, I hope the excellent depiction of its similarities to anxiety disorders continues.

Not counting the flashback sections of the book, there are four point-of-view characters, each brought into the murder mystery for different reasons, with different goals and stakes to resolve what happened. Brother Sesquillo, or Quill to most, is a member of the Order of Scriveners of Parem who is better with people than the more detail-oriented part of being a scribe as opposed to his closest friend Kirimo until he witnessed the traumatic incident of his friend murdering a political figure and then killing himself. It’s heartbreaking to watch Quill become obsessed with proving his friend’s innocence as he becomes increasingly hyperfixated with grief to the point that he puts himself in the crosshairs of a greater conspiracy at work. Quill’s loyalty to his friend, his charm without being smarmy, and his cunning without being overly clever are the qualities that make him so enjoyable to read and root for. You could see Quill’s faults in anyone who had gone through a traumatic experience like him: jumping to conclusions, becoming obsessed with the murders, and acting before thinking. Amadea Gintanas, archivist superior of the Imperial Archive, balances Quill’s more erratic grief-ridden behavior by being the voice of reason for Quill and all the specialists. Due to her past trauma, she is very protective of her charges, even Quill, whom she has just met. What I love about Amadea’s depiction is so often, mental disorders are treated as a hindrance to protagonists in stories, but in what resembles PTSD, Amadea manages her trauma and uses her experience to help others. She is strong with the disorder, not because she has magically overcome it. Her past is integral to the plot, and Evans does not leave the reader hanging along trying to figure it out before laying her cards on the table.

One of those specialists under Amadea’s care is Ynni, quite the opposite of Quill in terms of personality but just as lovable. She is soft-spoken, anxious, and full of self-doubt, but get her talking about a subject she’s interested in and lights up with joy as Quill quickly learns. Her growth in confidence as the book goes on while dealing with her affinity to ink feels partially due to Quill’s influence as the two grow close but just as much her wanting to take action to help with the situation Quill and Amadea have gotten themselves into. Quill likewise learns to think things through more, be more careful, and suspect in his actions as he tries to figure out what happened to his friend. Through her eyes, we learn how harrowing it is to have an affinity and learn about the Oruzandi’s culture and how it is very conducive to Ynni’s condition. If Amadea is the voice of reason, Ynni is the voice of compassion and caution. She has a lot of empathy for others, and the readers likewise get plenty of it by reading her perspective. Richa Langyuan is a member of the Vigilant Kinship, the equivalent of the lawkeepers in Semelia. Langyun is straight-up the beat detective of the story whose chapters tend to contain all the juicy tropes of a whodunit story I love. He has a checkered past that colors his perspective on the case when his instincts tell him it doesn’t feel right. He is ordered to stop asking so many questions, but that only makes him want to ask more. When the choice of his career or the truth is presented to him, he puts the white hat on and chooses the truth.

All of this is helped by the rapport of the point-of-view characters. Amadea and Richa both have their pasts, secrets, and jobs to do, which sometimes clash, but often, you can see they have a good banter back and forth between them. Likewise, as the book goes on, it’s clear that Ynni and Quill have a growing affinity to each other. They grow closer as the conspiracy unwraps, each being there for the other, Quill casually flirting with Ynni, Ynni growing more fond of Quill as he sticks around. By the end, Quill and Ynni are so adorable together that it’s easy to put aside that their meet-cute is built on a traumatic incident and just rooting for them to smooch. Likewise, the mutual respect between Amadea and Richa feels like there might be something more there, but not necessarily. The supporting cast goes a long way, as well. From the eccentric members of the Imperial Archives to the Semelian Royal Family, each helps set the tone for the scenes they’re in and the overarching story. It helps that Evan’s dialog doesn’t suffer from people don’t talk like this, even with the fantasy concepts thrown in. It has levity, hubris, longing, frustration, flirtation, and utter fear that you can read coming out of these characters when they speak.

I could write a thousand more words about why I love this book, probably more, but I’d prefer you go out, support it, read it yourself, and get the same feeling I did when I first read it. Empire of Exiles by Erin M. Evans is a triumph of fantasy, murder mystery, and political thriller that handles grief, PTSD, panic, and anxiety disorder with tact. Its characters, from the protagonists to the supporting cast, are lovable and flawed, with villains that are inexcusable with swagger you can’t help but smile at. The reveals will have you reeling but unable to stop reading. I cannot wait to read what Evans has cooking up for the follow-up.
… (mais)
 
Marcado
FourOfFiveWits | outras 3 resenhas | Sep 19, 2023 |
I had very few expectations going into this book. I'm not the biggest fan of the mystery genre and everything about the marketing about this book screamed "generic fantasy world" to me. Well, Erin Evans definitely proved me wrong in every way, and I absolutely devoured this book over a couple of sittings.

The novel takes place in a small country on an isthmus/peninsula behind a giant wall made of salt. There are evil magical creatures on the other side of the wall known as Changelings that can control people's bodies, thoughts, and actions. They swept throughout the continent, ravaging chaos wherever they went. The survivors moved all moved behind the salt wall, giving their allegiance to their emperors. This conceit for a story is so clever and Evans uses it to its maximum potential. On one hand the existence of the Changelings creates a tangible feeling of paranoia and anxiety throughout the book. Have the Changelings crossed the wall? Who is good and who is bad? While reading I kept thinking that this book was like the White Walkers from A Song of Ice and Fire turned up the maximum speed because the Changelings are not only on the other side of the wall, they can literally control people like puppets.

Evans also uses her worldbuilding to explore the ramifications of all of the survivors coming in and forming a single nation (where the title of the book gets its name). Evans fills her book to the brim with people of different nationalities, ethnicities, races, and species. For example, one of the POV characters, Yinii, is a member of a species that has horns and a third eye that allows them to see in the dark. Evans world feels so complete and lived in because the setting is full of diverse people with different religions, worldviews, and philosophies.

I do want to point out that a lot of the worldbuilding in this book is quite passive. There are no info-dumps, and as the reader you have to put a lot of the pieces together on your own. This creates some confusion in the beginning as you try and follow what is happening in both the plot and the worldbuilding. In most cases this just par for the course in reading epic fantasy, but there are some of the ethnicities/nationalities that are thrown at you with such speed that they all just felt the "same" and I didn't really make any attempts to separate the minor ones out. I would like to see this developed more in the sequels!

Empire of Exiles is also a multi-POV book, following four major characters, along with a couple of others in a series of flashbacks. The POVs are used well, and Evans nicely prevents the story from sprawling too much. Instead of the using the various POVs to expand the stories sprawl (a la Jordan or Martin), she instead uses them to give us four different perspectives on the one major single plot driving the narrative (that is, what is essentially a murder mystery). We get the perspectives of a young legal scholar, a magic user, a police detective, and a mysterious woman who is in charge of the Archives - the place where all of the cool stuff the exiled people brought with them behind the salt wall. The brief flashback chapters also intriguingly dripped information to add context to the present narrative, allowing Evans to continue to keep twisting the plot.

Evans has also imbued her novel with some interesting magic, although don't go looking for an "all magic, all the time" kind of story. Other than the Changelings that I talked about earlier, there are some people who have specialized magical power over particular elements or substances (think things like copper, ink, bronze, wool, iron, etc.). The strength of their power cycles, and at its peak the magic can overwhelm the user. This puts the magic user into an extreme state in which they are of a danger to themselves and others. Because of this, individuals with powerful skills are sent to the Archives where they can be monitored (not necessarily in a really bad way, but in a “we need to keep everyone safe” kind of way). At the Archives, the magic users become specialists in order to help preserve and document the world’s many wonders that were brought with them during the Exile. The "Spiral" creates a lot of tension in the book since magic users are so powerful, but also so unstable. This creates a particularly tense climax to the novel for a few of the characters!

And yes, there are plot twists! I'm not a reader who tries to "predict" what will happen (I just like to be shocked!), and there were definitely some twists and turns that completely got me! And, unlike a lot of other twisty or other mystery fantasies, I never felt like the twists were unfair or unearned. They all make sense in the context of the story, characters, and setting.

One aspect of the series that I am intrigued to see develop is the tone and overall "purpose" of the story. As I stated above, Empire of Exiles is a fantasy mystery whodunnit. By the end of the novel, this mystery is solved and larger political and supernatural conflicts are brewing. Some authors/series nicely transition out of these growing pains to become something greater than the small, targeted plot of their first volumes, while other series grow and meander into stereotypical "good vs. bad" epic fantasies (while others, like Era 1 Mistborn lose their way before finding their footing again). With what Evans gave us here in this first book I have no doubts that she has awesome things in store for Quill, Yinii, Medea, Richa and the rest!

Concluding Thoughts: Erin Evans has written a propulsive fantasy mystery with subtle yet intricate worldbuilding and the promise of much bigger things to come in future books.
… (mais)
 
Marcado
Nathan_Reviews | outras 3 resenhas | Jan 24, 2023 |
An absolutely fantastic, character-driven epic fantasy novel with a mystery plot on par with mystery genre greats. It has a truly unique magic system that seems almost like a panic disorder. Add to that fantastically well-written main characters and villains, and you’ve got one of my new favorite books. (Bonus points for being cliffhanger free, a good sense of humor, and having no petty antagonism between female main characters over men.)

MAGIC SYSTEM:

Each magic user has an affinity for a particular material: bronze, bone, ink, iron, salt, paint, etc. Magic-users can manipulate and connect with the material they have an affinity with, but this comes with dangers. During typically-cyclical episodes called alignments, their connection with their affinity material is so strong that they are vulnerable to panic-attack-like downward spirals where they can lose themselves in their material. They can lose themselves in their magic and even end up entombing themselves in their magical medium. But, their abilities are also temptingly strong during alignments. In addition, emotional turmoil can trigger an alignment out of the cyclical pattern. Finally, sorcerers have constant access to immense power over their affinity material because they are constantly in an alignment. Hence, they are constantly on the edge of a spiral and are constantly at risk of losing themselves in their affinity material.

This magical ability is very reminiscent of panic disorders. Some people are constantly on the verge of a panic attack. Some people get occasional panic attacks or clusters of panic attacks. Some people become prone to panic attacks in times of emotional stress. Some people aren’t prone to panic attacks at all. Except, in this book, magical power and emotion are entangled to the point in which emotional turmoil and magical strength are fused.

PREMISE:

The book followed an eclectic bunch of characters (including a young scribe, a few magic-users, an archivist, and a detective) caught up in a murder with mysterious ties to a failed coup two decades before. Despite there being half a dozen witnesses to the actual murder and a confession, the seemingly open-and-shut case just made less and less sense the more the characters investigated. Soon the characters found themselves on the trail of a very dangerous plot that could endanger their fragile society. A society protected from an outside world overrun with changelings by only an iron wall.

PLOT:

A fantastically twisty mystery plot with all the clues, misdirects, and detective work you’d expect from a great mystery writer. It started a bit slow, but it really picked up and had plenty of action once things got rolling. I was absolutely captivated by the mystery from the beginning, spinning numerous theories. There were so many twists that I never saw coming. The reader has a sporting chance at predicting some of the twists. Each twist made things make more and more sense as the pieces of the puzzle came together. Even the clues that seemed like red herrings at first turned out to be significant. The mystery ended up being quite complex, but it never came off as needlessly or excessively complicated. In the end, the solutions and explanations made sense and rang true.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT:

I grew to love each of the many main characters (even the ones I wasn’t sure about at first). Even better, I ended up finding all the major characters impressive. Even the villains. Especially the villains. There were some brilliant and rather terrifying villains. The villains were so diabolically smart that it was just plain fun to figure out their schemes. Honestly, a lot of the good guys could be rather terrifying themselves. The main characters all turned out to have a bit of a morally gray edge. Yet, they never lost their likeability or empathy.

All the characters changed over the course of the story. Even the bad guys, in their own scary way. All of them made mistakes. Every character managed to surprise me without breaking character.

The main characters were both terrifyingly impressive and plagued with anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, or heart-wrenching grief. The strongest main characters (female and male alike) were survivors of trauma, resilient, and sometimes deserving of a little extra care. Many of them were impressive because of their resilience in the face of these emotional struggles. To balance out all that heartache, the book had some wonderful examples of healthy and supportive attitudes regarding mental health. You saw characters employing calming, panic-attack-averting mental techniques. You also saw characters helping each other with empathy and understanding. There was a lovely theme of characters helping each other remember not to lose themselves. There was a lot of maturity, self-reflection, personal growth, and listening to the special kind of friends that tell you things you need to hear, but don’t want to hear.

I was so impressed by the skilled portrayal of panic attacks, anxiety/panic disorders, and PTSD in the main characters for this book. These psychological troubles were seamlessly worked into the story in a way that furthered the plot, without ever calling them out by name. Some of the characters even used classic grounding and management strategies to stave off panic attacks or flashbacks.

Peeks into the characters’ thoughts drew me into each characters’ state of mind better than any description could. Grief, panic attacks, anxiety/panic disorders, and PTSD were quietly incorporated into the story through the characters’ thoughts. Nothing conveys barely restrained panic quite like a character silently naming the colors of objects around them in their minds to stave off a panic attack. Nothing quite conveys empathy and kindness like characters reminding themselves (and each other) that everyone is deserving of a little extra care sometimes.

The most impressive part: none of the characters that struggle with grief, panic attacks, anxiety, or PTSD are portrayed as weak. All of them were portrayed as all the more impressive for it. For many characters, these struggles were tied to their strengths. For some, it was because of the sheer emotional resilience and strength of mind required to survive with their struggles. For some, it was because their anxiety/panic attacks and magic were entangled to the point of them being at their most magically powerful when on the verge of losing themselves in a psychological downward spiral (and vice versa). For all of these characters, much of their strength of character lies in their ability to pick themselves up and come back from a psychological downward spiral instead of completely losing themselves to it.

There’s nothing like a character that regularly fends off panic attacks being the only one able to keep their cool enough to competently handle the toughest and scariest crises because they have the most practice at successfully fending off panic. The particular brand of confidence that comes from knowing you can fend off panic is both beautifully ironic and incredibly compelling. I’ve never before seen an author believably make a character formidable because of their panic disorder, anxiety disorder, or PTSD. Typically, characters are portrayed as formidable despite their panic disorder, anxiety disorder, or PTSD.

WORLDBUILDING:

Great building, it just took a while to get there. You’re thrown right into the deep end of a high fantasy world with multiple species and a magic system unlike any I’ve read about before. The world got filled in as the plot progressed, instead of having big info dumps. It was occasionally a little confusing without having had all the different species (and their traits) explained upfront, but things never got too confusing. The world had a rich history. It had complex politics befitting a world that once held many, many countries. The world also expanded beyond the scope of the story’s immediate setting.

ENDING:

It didn’t end on a cliffhanger, but there are still antagonists undefeated. There were still dangers left. There’s plenty of material for the sequel and character arcs to be continued. Things didn’t end with a perfect happily ever after, but they also ended fairly happily. A few smaller mysteries were left open and all the revelations brough new questions. The ending was satisfying, but also left my itching for a sequel.

Warnings: death, violence, suicide, panic attacks, PTSD, flashbacks, mind control, kidnapping, drugging

I received a free eARC of this book via NetGalley. I am writing this review completely honestly and voluntarily.
… (mais)
 
Marcado
Lunarsong | outras 3 resenhas | Jan 2, 2023 |

Prêmios

You May Also Like

Associated Authors

Estatísticas

Obras
11
Also by
3
Membros
653
Popularidade
#38,652
Avaliação
3.8
Resenhas
24
ISBNs
25
Idiomas
1
Favorito
1

Tabelas & Gráficos