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Publisher's Summary

Empire in Black and Gold is the first novel in Adrian Tchaikovsky's critically acclaimed epic fantasy series The Shadows of the Apt.

The days of peace are over....

The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace and prosperity for decades: bastions of civilisation and sophistication. That peace is about to end.

In far-off corners, an ancient Empire has been conquering city after city with its highly trained armies and sophisticated warmaking.... And now it's set its sights on a new prize. 

Only the ageing Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, can see the threat. It falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people - as soon a tide will sweep down over the Lowlands and burn away everything in its path.

But first he must stop himself from becoming the Empire's latest victim.

Empire in Black and Gold is followed by the second book in the Shadows of the Apt series, Dragonfly Falling.

©2020 Adrian Tchaikovsky (P)2020 Macmillan Publishers International Ltd

What listeners say about Empire in Black and Gold

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  • Tkinsey3
  • 11-12-2020

Super Original and Very Underrated

I've been waiting YEARS for Shadows of the Apt to be recorded as an audiobook, and I'm so glad the day is finally here. This is a series that rivals all of the big Epic Fantasy blockbusters out there (Sanderson, Jordan, GRRM, etc). The setting is incredibly original but easy to understand, the characters are all well drawn and easy to root for, and the story is paced beautifully - I couldn't stop listening! I had not previously listened to Ben Allen narrate anything, but he does a great job - lots of different accents that go a long way in helping me keep track of which characters are talking. I will definitely listen to the rest of this series, and look for other audiobooks from Ben Allen as well! Easy 5 Stars, and I already purchased Book 2!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-12-2020

A hidden gem in Epic Fantasy

More reviews at undertheradarsffbooks.com Welcome to the Lowlands and what I can only describe as the most underrated epic fantasy series of out time! Yes, you heard me correctly and I do not use these words lightly. Adrian Tchaikovsky is known mostly through his sci-fi novels but he wrote a ten book epic fantasy series starting with Empire in Black and Gold in 2008. This ten book epic fantasy series is the hidden gem of the epic fantasy genre and I would like to thank Tor UK for rereleasing the entire series including its first release on audible. The audible edition is performed by the very talented Ben Allen and he does a smashing job. Every single characters voice was performed brilliantly and I mentioned to Ben that one scene in a haunted forest was done so well that he literally game me the chills! Ok, that’s enough about me gushing about this story. The Lowlands is a world and civilization unlike any other you have read in the fantasy genre and I can guarantee that! There are several different races of humans in this world with each race being referred to as a different Kinden. A Kinden is a race of human that based on the aspects of different insects!. I know this may sound strange but let me explain how it works. The world consists of several different types of Kinden: beetles, ants, dragonfly, mantis, spider, moth, wasp etc… Each Kinden contains their own skills or magic abilities. Beetle-Kinden tend to be short with round build and they are very smart with the ability to build machines. Ant-Kinden are short but very strong soldiers to go to war and they can communicate in each others minds without talking. Mantis-Kinden are elite soldiers similar to a samurai and very prideful. Finally Wasp-Kinden are magic users who can fly, but not very strong as a group. All of these Kinden and so much more inhabit this world and Adrian Tchaikovsky has taken my breath away with his imagination and creative genius! There is so much that happens in just this one book that I believe it could have been split up into a trilogy. This is a dream come true for me as I read these books almost decade ago and it deserves a much wider audience and fanbase. Lets get into the synopsis: The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace for decades, bastions of civilization, prosperity and sophistication, protected by treaties, trade and a belief in the reasonable nature of their neighbors. But meanwhile, in far-off corners, the Wasp Empire has been devouring city after city with its highly trained armies, its machines, its killing Art…And now its hunger for conquest and war has become insatiable. Only the ageing Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, can see that the long days of peace are over. It falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people, before a black-and-gold tide sweeps down over the Lowlands and burns away everything in its path. But first he must stop himself becoming the Empire’s latest victim. We follow several characters on this journey and each one is better than the next. First we follow Cheerwell Maker: Stenwold’s niece and student at the collegium. Beetle-Kinden curious about the world and its inhabitants until the war is brought to her front door. Next we follow Tynisa: Stenwolds student and ward. Spider-Kinden who finds that she has no interest in the learning and knowledge of building machines but instead wishes to take up the way of the sword. Then we have Tisamon: Mantis-Kinden and a fierce warrior. Guilted by the betrayal of his once friend, he had lived in isolation for the past 17 years until Stenwold calls for help and the war with the wasps begin. Finally there is Achaeos: Moth-Kinden on a secret mission until it goes horrible wrong, He is a seer in training and his scenes involving his powers were the one of my favorite parts of the story. Each Kinden has its own history and predigests towards the others. Beetles, Ants, and Flies were slaves, cowed by the powerful sorceries of their masters that they couldn’t even comprehend. The Lowlands were ruled by the Moth-Kinden, with the assistance of the Mantis-Kinden. This relationship is summed up in the commonly used phrase Masters of the Grey, Servants of the Green. This was until the revolution happened and the slaves rose up with the might force of the machines to overtake their masters and magic is now practiced in certain areas. Now that we got that out of the way, lets get into the writing. If you have read any of Adrian Tchaikovsky other novels, you already know how much of a wizard his with words. Beautifully and methodically written with suspense and tension lurking around every corner. It had been almost a decade since I first read this and I was still shocked and how much I didn’t remember and I left with a huge smile on my face ready to dive into book 2. This book does have some very dark moments including a torture scene, a brutal murder, and the very brief glimpse of a rape scene (nothing graphic or descriptive), in case these types of scenes are hard to read for some readers. I consider this series a must read for any lover of epic fantasy and those readers who are looking for something completely different in the SFF community. It is a crime that this series is such an unknown to the vast majority of fantasy readers and I will take it upon myself to correct this injustice. This is in my top 5 greatest epic fantasy series ever written and I hope you will see this work for the grand epic it truly is. Thank you Ben Allen for your wonderful contribution to this series and keep the good work! Adrian, I can’t begin to express my gratitude for creating this masterpiece and I hope many will appreciate this work and all its glory! It has changed the way I want stories to be told forever and I have you to thank! Cheers!

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  • Suspect
  • 13-12-2020

Master Storyteller

Tchaikovsky is a master storyteller and wordsmith. Ben Allen’s narration is superb. Black and Gold is on par with the very best of the best of science fiction/fantasy novels.

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  • mark a case
  • 23-12-2020

Refreshing

This stands out in what seems to be a world of young-adult quality writing. You can look forward to a very unique world, great characters, and believable villains. Quite a few twists I didn't expect that brought value to the story. I hope the same quality of writing can be extended for the duration of the series. The next book is an immediate buy for me. To be clear, this is 'adult' quality writing only in that it doesn't insult your intelligence just listening to it.

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  • J. J.
  • 07-01-2021

one of the best by one of the best

Tchaikovsky is an outstanding fiction/fantasy author; one of my favorites. One volume in, this may be his best work

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  • Clayton
  • 03-01-2021

Pretty good, at least worth the price.

Pretty good book. Not great but not bad. I'll continue with the series and see how it goes. I don't know that I have much more to contribute with a review that hasn't already been better covered by better reviewers. I do like the perspective that Adrian Tchaikovsky gives on the bug/insect world. However it is a bit confusing to me about all human/bugs in this world. They're humans but they are bugs, I have a hard time envisioning the world and the characters at times. There are some holes in the plotline and a few things don't add up from time to time but overall it's readable. A lot of the personal drama and interpersonal conflict between the characters is weak and feels artificially manufactured to add drama and depth to the story but falls flat and doesn't really make sense if you think the story through. Personally I think the book would be much better without all the added interpersonal conflict. Some people has commented in their reviews that there is to much war in this book. I couldn't disagree more. The action scenes are the books saving grace and are captivating and well written without being gratuitously violent. The whole book is about the war being waged by the Wasps on the world, I don't know how you could tell the story without there being war and battle scenes. One point I do have about the war and war scenes is that although Mr. Tchaikovsky seems to know about bugs, he has a very shallow or naïve understanding of war, armies and military tactics and strategy. It is fine for the simple story line and to keep the main characters front and center in the action but it comes off more as a poorly researched B roll action movie than a serious piece of fiction. There is a lot of story build up to a scene or an action than then switches over to much ado about nothing. The narrator did a pretty good job and I found all the accents for the different races of bugs/people entertaining.

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  • Birdsmom
  • 29-12-2020

Entertaining

A totally separate story series from Children of Time and Children of Ruin. The humans in this story are "humans" with inherited bug qualities. Beings in the later books are indeed bugs and animals, not humans. Leader Master Stengwold Maker, his buddies Tisimond, Scuto and Stengwold’s college trained team (Totho, Cheerwell Maker, Tynisa, and Prince Salme Dien) and Cheerwell’s suitor Achaeos go on a journey protecting unsuspecting Collegian and other Lowland states from the Black and Gold Wasp empire. The book is very entertaining. I expect to listen to the whole series. Narration is excellent.

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  • BocaJ
  • 23-12-2020

Fantasy of a different stripe

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. The narration was solid. It was easy to tell who was speaking with all the different accents in play. There were no audio issues such as parts where quiet moments are too quiet or yelling is too loud. The story itself is well written. The plot is consistent and moves along at a good pace. The characters felt real and complex. Even the villains of the story had moments where I was rooting for them to succeed. The world building is truly original, deep and wide. There is magic and wonder woven into a steampunk setting that was reminiscent of but didn’t call to mind any specific story I’ve read before. There is a little bit of everything that makes fantasy tales cool and it is all woven together very well into a cohesive whole. I will definitely give the next book a go and I have high hopes.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-01-2021

great story with fantastic narration

I read this series years ago and am so pleased to see it out on audible. Ben Allen does a great job of distinguishing the different characters and maintaining their voices throughout. I love the ingenuity of this series and find that I really ended up caring about the characters and what happens to them.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-12-2020

Awesome

Having read this book I know how good this series is and I have been waiting for the audio book. After hearing Ben Allen for a few sentences I am so excited to here him bring some of my favourite characters to life I will be updating this review after iv finished it

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