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Publisher's Summary

Brian Staveley, author of The Emperor's Blades, gives listeners the first book in a new epic fantasy trilogy based in the world of his popular series the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, The Empire's Ruin.

Best of Summer 2021 - Polygon

The Annurian Empire is disintegrating. The advantages it used for millennia have fallen to ruin. The ranks of the Kettral have been decimated from within, and the kenta gates, granting instantaneous travel across the vast lands of the empire, can no longer be used.

In order to save the empire, one of the surviving Kettral must voyage beyond the edge of the known world through a land that warps and poisons all living things to find the nesting ground of the giant war hawks. Meanwhile, a monk turned con-artist may hold the secret to the kenta gates.

But time is running out. Deep within the southern reaches of the empire and ancient god-like race has begun to stir.

What they discover will change them and the Annurian Empire forever. If they can survive.

©2021 by Brian Staveley. (P)2021 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

“Brian Staveley’s books are epic in every sense of the word. His characters are complex, his history deep, his plots rife with action and intrigue. He’s a giant in the genre, no doubt.” (Nicolas Eames, author of Kings of the Wyld)

“If you loved Brian Staveley's Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, then hang onto your war hawk, 'cause his new book, The Empire’s Ruin, returns to the world of the crumbling Annurian Empire in a spectacular way. Fans of Staveley's work, and those who enjoy epic fantasy outside the conventional mold, are going to unearth treasure.” (R.S. Belcher)

What listeners say about The Empire's Ruin

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amazing book!

this is the first time I have submitted a review. I have listened to hundreds of books. I can't rate this highly enough. it's a must listen.

2 people found this helpful

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story is good but not as good as previous books.

previous books had better story but if you enjoyed those books, you will definitely like this one as well. great preformance by narrators

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  • James
  • 10-07-2021

Great start!

I’ll leave it to other reviewers to go over the plot. Here are a few of my observations.

First the narration. I feel like fantasy fans are the most demanding of listeners of audiobooks. I know many will not like the decision to move away from Simon Vance but it was a good decision. I love Simon Vance but with the rotating p.o.v’s and huge cast it makes the most sense to do this. A lot of listeners didn’t like Browns Red Rising Audiobooks to go that direction but I felt the same way there as here. It was a great decision. I thought Moira Quirk was the best one but the other two were alright. I’ve certainly heard far worse.

Secondly. Can one read it without reading the previous books? Well that depends on the sort of reader you are. Are you ok without having every back story explained to you and you can shrug it off and say it’s not really important to the story and piece relationships and things together as you go along? Then you’ll be fine.

Thirdly. Is it good? It is definitely his best book so far. I have mixed feelings about Staveley’s books. I feel like the Emperors Blades was great, some questionable decisions were made in the second and I really did not like the third book. I couldn’t get into Skullsworn and havnt finished that one. In this book he writes with more of a standard epic fantasy tone that will be more familiar to readers. It’s hard to describe and put my finger on it but it is just better all around. He also has these flourishes that shows what a great writer he is. For instance, instead of saying it was rainy and overcast look at this description:

“The hot, wet jiangba season should have ended weeks earlier, around the equinox, but aside from one or two breaks, the storms refused to relent. The sun, which should have been blazing in the sky, was little more than a pale, green-gray disk, like a dream of sun. No fire, no substance. The rain, on the other hand, was all too real. The rain had weight. Not the individual drops, of course, which splattered harmlessly on the bridges and wooden causeways, drained from the baked-clay tiles of the rooftops, stippled Dombâng’s ten thousand canals, but the idea of the rain, countless days of it, crouching over the city, pressing down, down, down, gently but unrelentingly, with a billion implacable fingers until even people who had lived their entire lives in the delta, who had seen forty or fifty or seventy rainy seasons, began to go about stooped, hunched, as though the weather were a weight that they bore on their backs.”

Now can Staveley stick the landing for the rest of this series? Time will tell but I am very hopeful based on this fantastic start.

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  • gjm
  • 08-07-2021

Vance?

Vance was far better. Skullsworn I had to stop listening. Can't identify with the story with these narrators.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Joseph D.
  • 17-07-2021

tedious but not horrible

tedious. stories okay but the characters are full of lament and self loathing. And spend large amounts of time going over it.

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  • Scott S.
  • 29-08-2021

Excellent Start To New Series

Having enjoyed the The Emperor's Blades series, I was looking forward to The Empire's Ruin, I expected Simon Vance to continue with the narration, but when I found out that two of my favorite narrators in Moira Quirk and Joe Jameson would be narrating this book, I have to say I became excited. They, and the book itself did not disappoint.

The Empire's Ruin continues on a few years after the previous series with a few old characters, and some new ones. Gwenna Sharp, a member of the Ketral and a character who had a smaller part in the Emperor's Blades series, takes over as the main POV in this book. While she is the cause of a tragedy that sends he into turmoil for a large part of the middle of the book, she eventually finds her strength through the companionship of a unlikely source. I really enjoyed her story. I also enjoyed the story of the other two main POVs, a priest and a monk, though the narration of one elevated his story over the other.

Speaking of the narration, I enjoyed the narration of Simon Vance in the previous series. He is a top notch narrator, however the new narrators of this book just brought the book to a whole new dimension. Moira Quirk has quickly become one of my favorite narrators in fantasy. Her portrayal of Gwenna was perfect. I have been a fan of Joe Jamison's for awhile now, and his narration in this book was excellent as always. As for Oliver Cudbill, he didn't quite live up to the other two narrators, but he wasn't bad either. The combination of the three made for a much more enjoyable book.

Overall, I thought this was one of the best audible books I have listened to this year. The combination of great story and excellent narration kept me listening for hours. A 35 hour book done before I knew it. Can't wait for the next.

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  • Lucas M. Shepherd
  • 12-08-2021

This book can be brutal. 5/5

I really like the writing style of the author. I thought with such a long running time there would be a lot of filler but that doesn't seem the case. This is definitely a book where they let the mistakes fly (for the characters in the book) and isn't a hero-wins-all book. It pulls you through the mud and blood and grime. Looking forward to the next book.

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  • Nom de plume
  • 25-07-2021

felt like a movie

I loved the initial concept and setting of this book. I like when a story begins by tossing the reader into the middle of a situation without full context. it grips you, and helps become invested in the outcome by the nature of the conflict before knowing the characters.

that said, you ever watch a movie that has characters from a profession you're familiar with, and its obvious that the writer never experienced the realities of the job? or didn't bother to do any research into the field before writing? this book is like that. the main military character is needlessly aggressive and defiant towards authority and refuses to accept responsibility. I've known many operators from different branches of the military, and this is not a character trait they embody. if you are specially trained and are the best of the best, then you are held to a higher standard. they accept it. I found myself co.pletely apathetic to the outcome of the main character due to her dogged attachment to excuses and eventual wallowing in self pity.

other positives were the landscape and culture were imaginative and interesting. though probably not enough for me to spend time on the sequal.

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  • BeauFLA
  • 19-07-2021

This is a horrible book

Boring grimdark without a real storyline. I'm returning it. If all you want is 33 hours of self loathing, death and pain this book might be for you. Otherwise I'd leave this one alone.

2 people found this helpful

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  • ninjajoe
  • 16-07-2021

Noticeable improvement in just about every regard.

I absolutely love this book. the voice actors were perfect. be careful because it does get quite gory.

2 people found this helpful

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  • J.Z.
  • 09-07-2021

The story continues…

If you enjoyed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne then start this series. It continues the story with a good balance of new and familiar perspectives. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait for the next one.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-09-2021

Spectacular vision, excellent voice acting

An unexpected but fantastic addition to the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne. Brian Stavely manages not only to expand and deepen the already rich world he has created but also convincingly portrays in his characters what it is to be deeply flawed as a human being.

His depiction of one characters' descent into self-recrimination, self-isolation, and madness before struggling to find themselves again was masterful.

I eagerly await the next book in this series, and wish Brian the best of health until his story is told in its entirety.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 13-08-2021

Slow burn but ended well

Seems like a good story overall My issue was with one of the main characters. It's my pet peeve when a character is supposed to be high ranking and top of their game but act like an idiot repeatedly. This sorts itself out about half way through and the book improves rapidly.

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  • Bob
  • 17-07-2021

Interesting story but cringey 2d wokeness

Story interesting enough, bit slow and long but they have ruined some characters with some limp woke stereotypes. Had to speed up some paragraphs, felt like preteen writing at times. Wasn't a fan of the 3 narrators either bit young/light, more YA feel. Worth the read if you followed series but won't reread.

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  • symro
  • 16-09-2021

Loved it but struggled with the it

So so long and didn't have the edge to the other trilogy, felt very disappointed after 35 hours, will try again if there is a next book as he is a brilliant writer.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-09-2021

when is the next installment due for release?

loved it. a great delve into Gwenna Sharp and Pia's son.
the next book cannot come soon enough.

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  • A
  • 13-08-2021

Great

If you liked the first trilogy and Skullsworn, you're bound to like this. You will learn many new things about this world.

3 POV characters. Gwenna, Akiil (characters from previous trilogy) and Ruc (new character, but he has links to old characters).

Narrators are very good. I'm glad there are multiple narrators, both woman and men.

Did it need to be 35 hours long? No, could've trimmed it, but if you're a fan of the fantasy genre you probably don't care about long length.

Anything bad? I don't think so, but if you dislike swearing then don't buy this, Gwenna swears in about every sentence.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-08-2021

Enjoyable

I was a bit disappointed at first to see this wasn't narrated by the wonderful Simon Vance, but enjoyed the 3 difference narrators and especially the voice for the character of Goatface.

The story kept my interest throughout and at 35 hours long, it's nothing if not value for money! If you liked the other books, you're almost certain to enjoy this one. I can't wait for the next instalment.

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  • Byron Orde
  • 25-07-2021

An amazing follow up, can't wait for more!

I couldn't be more pleased to return to the world! amazing job done of shifting focus to great new leading characters (some of which we remember). Knew from 20mins in the book was spot on, doesn't pull punches, page-turner for sure, and reminds me just why I loved the brutal yet fascinating world Stavely created.

A pleasure to return :)

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