Publication Date: January 18th, 2021
Paperback. 624 pages.
If you're looking to start off your new year by jumping into a brand new, action-packed epic fantasy, then Engines of Empire is a great place to start. This adventurous new fantasy has a wide variety of settings and elements that should provide a little something for just about everybody.
Engines of Empire follows various members of the Hawkspurs Guild (plus one extra!) through clashes of power, revolutions, and some really unique, compelling new magic. I've seen this described as steampunk because of the magic and pyrestone that fuels the entire world, and I think 'epic steampunk fantasy' is really a pretty accurate general idea of the feel of this book. The world is essentially dominated by different Guilds, of which the Hawkspurs are one of the most powerful. This leads to constant threats against them, as well as plenty of room for treachery and plots that must be constantly assessed.
This story switches between a total of five POVs, which sounds like a lot but actually works really well for the story. I had no real issues distinguishing between any of the characters, as they were all really well defined and I appreciated how well Ford managed to tell each of their storylines. We follow: Tyreta, whose interest in magic takes her to far-reaching places; Conall, who is shipped out to the brutal desert to carry out his military duties and gain experience; Fulren, framed for a crime he didn't commit and who is sent off to a new land as a result; Rosomon, mother to Tyreta, Conall, and Fulren and who must fight for her safety after grave betrayals; and lastly is Lancelin, a man hated by the Hawkspur children who ends up with a much larger role than I expected–and who I really came to appreciate.
The world of Engines of Empire is huge, and I loved how much of it we got to explore in this first book alone. It makes me that much more excited to see what will be explored in future books. We get to explore a jungle-based island setting, a desert called the Desolation, the impressive nation of Torwyn, and more. Ford has created a world bursting with detail and world-building, and I think he did a great job of introducing a lot without ever overwhelming the reader with too much at any time. This book also plays with a lot of themes and ideas, including those such as revolutions based around an indigenous/colonizer dynamic, as well as conflicts that span from personal to empire-sized, and I appreciated the care and detail given to these topics and discussions.
The pacing of Engines of Empire is on the faster side, which I appreciated in how it kept the plot moving and made it easy to sort of follow along on the characters' journeys. If an epic fantasy this big and with this many characters has pacing that is too slow, I sometimes find it harder to stay connected with the characters if it takes too long to return to their POVs, an issue that I'm happy to say was not an issue with this book. I sometimes felt as though I wanted to slow down and take a breath away from the events of this book, but I also can't really fault a pace that allowed me to speed through this book in enjoyment and eagerness to see how it would all work out.
Overall, I've given Engines of Empire 4.25 stars! I'm very much looking forward to the next installment in this new epic fantasy series, and if you are looking for an exciting, adventurous new epic fantasy then I would absolutely recommend you pick this one up.
*I received a copy of Engines of Empire courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*