Review: Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio

“It was not his war.

On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe started down a path that could only end in fire. The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives – even the Emperor himself – against Imperial orders.

But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.

Fleeing his father and a future as a torturer, Hadrian finds himself stranded on a strange, backwater world. Forced to fight as a gladiator and into the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, he will find himself fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.”

Thanks given to Netgalley and Gollancz for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

I had high expectations for Empire of Silence (Book One of the Sun Eater series), especially after seeing it hailed as “Dune meets The Name of the Wind.” That’s a lot to live up to, but Empire of Silence confidently holds its own in ambition, imagination, and scope.

I’m a sucker for these sprawling first-person narratives, and although the book acts as a prelude to the events hinted at in the blurb, this doesn’t detract from the story laid out in Empire of Silence. It’s interesting and thrilling and it all feels like a necessary foundation for the story to come (which I’m beyond excited to read). Ruocchio does a fantastic job of threading the narrative with hints of what’s to come and it was a pleasure to begin piecing together the epic life of Hadrian Marlowe.

And I have to mention the worldbuilding. It’s vast and complex and cast in the shadow of religion and inquisition. It’s far-future where aristocrats live hundred of years through genetic engineering, and where human civilisation has expanded so deep into space that they’ve found alien species to war with. But it’s also dirty and brutal and lived-in; it feels real far beyond the page.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Empire of Silence. Reading it felt like discovering a new Dune or Red Rising, and although this first instalment only constitutes Hadrian’s first few steps on his path to destroying a sun, it’s a fun, immersive, thrilling read. I can’t wait for book two. Five out of five stars.

An incredible read. 

You can learn more about Christopher Ruocchio here, and Empire of Silence is available to pre-order from here (released Thursday 5th July, 2018).

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