Review: Heirs of Empire

Heirs of EmpireHeirs of Empire

I found Heirs of Empire when I was searching for a novel to nominate for The Planetary Awards.

The book has a reasonably interesting plot: a military coup knocks out most of a ruling dynasty, the youngest members of the dynasty escape, and the dynasty’s allies lay a foundation for its return to power. I was on board with that, but I lost interest due to the writing style. I don’t have quotes, because I listened to an audiobook while driving, but I’ll give you my impersonation of the author’s writing:

Imagine you’re reading a sci-fi/thriller book by another author: ‘She took out the security camera with an EMP blast.’ A description of the same event in Heirs of Empire would look like: ‘She fired her EMP blaster at the camera. This destroyed the camera, and prevented it from transmitting a signal. If the guards had been able to view the camera’s feed, they would have seen her. If the guards had seen her, they would have come out of the guardhouse to arrest her, and she would have had to fight them.’ This problem even extended down to the sentence level, where instead of ‘She knocked him to the ground’, I’d hear “She hit him so hard that he fell onto the ground.”

I kept yelling at my audio system, “Get on with it!” (If any of you have planted a hidden camera in my vehicle, you should post a clip on youtube.) Eventually annoyance gave way to boredom, and I started thinking about work-related things instead of the book.

The story also couldn’t seem to decide what technology paradigm to use. It’s sci-fi with blaster rifles and such, but the most powerful people have special items that act like bows and arrows and angels’ wings. The ships they fly around in sometimes act like fighter jets, sometimes like sailing vessels, and sometimes like trains following tracks in the sky (I really hope I misunderstood that last one due to inattention).

Let me know in the comments section if you’ve read any books where an interesting story was ruined by writing style, or where the author used twenty words in place of two.

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23 comments

  1. I think there is a good tip hidden in there somewhere.

    1. Maybe it’s to give your readers credit for some intelligence. Don’t spell out every little thing for them.

      I’m hoping a fan of the author will jump into the comments, and tell us what they liked about the writing.

  2. If you give a Strong Female Protagonist an EMC Blast Rifle…

  3. Your review is particularly interesting for two reasons: one, this is a traditionally published work that seems to suffer from poor editing. And two, it’s currently doing amazingly well on Amazon, with wonderfully high ranks on almost every related sub-genre. Huh.

    1. I believe Evan Currie was a successful self-published guy before writing this book for 47 North, Amazon’s sci-fi imprint. So, either his other books were different, or there’s a market for this style of writing.

      I wouldn’t necessarily accuse 47 North of poor editing; my guess is that they take successful self-pubs and try not to mess with their style.

      1. Fair enough. And I confess not to have read his book, so I defer judgment until I do 🙂

    2. I’ve seen excerpts from Dan Brown books…

      1. I’ve never read any. I’ll have to talk to some friends who have.

        1. Back before the internet posted bits from 50 Shades of Gray or Twilight to make fun of the bad writing, they’d post blurbs from The daVinci Code.

  4. Yeah, I’ve recently had problems trying to read David Weber’s Hell’s Foundations Quiver. Love the story, but the discussion of technology and its implications has become too much even for me (and I’m an engineer!). Maybe if it wasn’t so long and I had so little free time for pleasurable reading…

    1. That sounds intimidating, I don’t think I’ll put that one at the top of my to-read list.

  5. I was once reading a book in which it took three pages for a man to open a door and walk into a room. I got about halfway through the book and gave up. I don’t mind when an author draws out certain details, but you can take it too far.

    1. I’m hoping he was having flashbacks…?

      1. Not that I recall. I think the author was trying to create dramatic tension. The door’s opening… Who’s there? What does he want? But it just made for tedious reading.

  6. Writing like that always makes me think the author is getting paid based on word count….
    eg

  7. I was going to say that I betted it was selling better than mine because I’m bitter and twisted like that. Mwahahaaaargh! I agree with other comments that it sounds like s good story knackered by bad editing, I’ll have to go look. But it has, 1 a female protagonist and 2 the kind of cover which, I find same year and off putting but which I have learned, to my cost, sells books in a way that a different, original one doesn’t. And of its type the design is very good.

    Oh well, best of luck to the author. There’s clearly a good story under there somewhere or ot wouldn’t be selling.

    Cheers

    MTM

  8. Bastard auto correct. A cover I find off putting and samey.

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