The Empire's Ghost

The Empire's Ghost introduces readers to a chaotic, politically charged world. Imperator Elgar is poised to invade one of several neighboring countries in an attempt to control all the lands of the fallen empire of Elesthene. Prince Kelken of Reglay is thrust into power in a weak state with little idea of how to rule. Lady Margraine, marquise of Esthrades, has a head full of books and no military experience with which to stand up to Elgar's advances. Far-off Issamira has been thrown into heritage chaos with the disappearance of the nation's prince. Amid all of this, a group of kindhearted thieves, a touch too far afield of the law, are forced to make an impossible decision: serve the despised Imperator and live--or refuse and watch their friends die.

In The Empire's Ghost, Steiger has succeeded in crafting a fantasy novel at once familiar and refreshing in its refusal to adhere to any one trope of the genre. Female characters are more than mere pawns to be married to other nations; friendships and loyalties lie in a grey area, open to contextual interpretation; politics are at once a driving force of the plot yet far removed from the day-to-day life of citizens. Most impressively, Steiger succeeds in managing a multitude of characters and complexities in a way that, though overwhelming at times, is never sloppy or confusing. The cliffhanger ending may leave some frustrated, but fans of smart worldbuilding and complex political fantasies will be eager for the next installment in Steiger's planned series. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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