If you are looking for a new epic fantasy series to sink your teeth into, look no further than Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt. One of the best books in this series is undoubtedly the debut, Empire in Black and Gold. In this book, Tchaikovsky introduces readers to the world of the Insect-kinden, a complex and fascinating society filled with political intrigue, magical powers, and giant insects.
The story begins with the death of the Emperor of the Wasp-kinden, the most powerful of the Insect-kinden races. This event triggers a power struggle among the Wasp-kinden, leading to the rise of the ambitious and ruthless Emperor Alvdan. Meanwhile, a diverse cast of characters from other Insect-kinden races finds themselves drawn into this conflict, each with their own motivations and agendas.
At the center of the story is Stenwold Maker, a scholar and diplomat from the Beetle-kinden who is determined to prevent the rise of the Wasps. He forms a team of allies, including a Spider-kinden assassin and an Ant-kinden warrior, each with their own unique powers and abilities. Together, they fight against the Wasps and their army of giant insects, leading to thrilling battles and unexpected plot twists.
One of the strengths of Empire in Black and Gold is the depth of its world-building. Tchaikovsky has created a fascinating world filled with unique and intriguing cultures and characters. The Insect-kinden society is complex and well-thought-out, with each race having its own distinct abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. The Wasps, in particular, are a fascinating and terrifying society, with their warrior culture and twisted morality.
What sets Empire in Black and Gold apart from other fantasy novels is the use of insect-based magic. The Insect-kinden can harness the powers of their insect counterparts, allowing them to fly, crawl up walls, and communicate with other insects. This adds a unique and creative twist to the traditional fantasy genre, making the book feel fresh and exciting.
But for all its creativity and innovation, Empire in Black and Gold also has a strong emotional core. Stenwold Maker is a compelling and sympathetic protagonist, a man who is dedicated to his cause but also haunted by his failures. His relationships with his allies are complex and nuanced, adding depth to the story.
There are also several romantic subplots in the book, including a ring gold engagement between two of the characters, which adds another layer of emotional complexity to the story. The engagement symbolizes hope for a better future, a future where the Insect-kinden can unite and overcome their differences to defeat the Wasps.
In conclusion, Empire in Black and Gold is a brilliant debut that introduces readers to a rich and fascinating world filled with unforgettable characters and magical powers. Tchaikovsky’s ability to create such a complex and detailed world is truly impressive, and the use of insect-based magic is innovative and fresh. The book is an excellent start to the Shadows of the Apt series, and readers will find themselves eagerly anticipating the next instalment. The engaging story and the ring gold engagement will leave readers wanting more as the story continues, it will bring readers to the brink of tears and joy.