ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
Reviewed by Adam Weller
Cover art illustrated by: Pen Astridge
Empire of Shadows by Alicia Wanstall-Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Coraidic Sagas (Book #3 of 3)
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 610 pages (Kindle Edition)
Published: 25th January 2022 (Self-Published)
Alicia Wanstall-Burke’s Blood of Heirs fashioned one of the more devious second-book cliffhangers in the trilogies I’ve read in recent years. Up until the last few chapters, the story of Lidan, Loge, Ran, Sellan, and others twisting the fates of the Northern and Southern empires was an entertaining saga with strong-willed characters you could get behind. But its last few chapters really stood out, as it set the story careening off into truly exciting territory, and I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Empire of Shadows to see how the final pieces were going to fall.
I am happy to say that Empire of Shadows concludes Wanstall-Burke’s Coraidic Sagas in a thrilling fashion, and the Wanstall-Burke’s writing has also taken a big leap forward along with it. What stood out most was how well-detailed each scene was set. This story visited more locations than ever before, and each location felt rich and vibrant with life. Whether we were chasing adversaries through the rocky plains, sneaking through the city docks, or rubbing elbows with high empirical society, each environment felt lived-in and stood out to me as very well-written.
The main cast increased quite a bit, and this was the source of my only small gripe with the story. I did like the introduction of a new partner to one of the main characters, but the heavy focus on so many other characters didn’t work quite as well for me. This was likely due to being attached to the core characters so much that I wanted to return to their POVs, and I didn’t feel as heavily invested with some of the newer chapter leads. However, I must say that Sellan went from being my most-hated character last book, to the one I most wanted to read next. She is an evil no-nonsense murdering badass that I somehow found myself rooting for, so that was quite the trick that the author pulled on me. Big kudos.
Concluding stories is always difficult and I think the author did admirable work here. I had my predictions shattered, which I love to see. There’s so much more of this world yet to explore and I think there’s potential for a lot more story left to tell, so I’m hoping we get to visit perhaps another generation of these heroes and anti-heroes, as I’m not quite ready to say goodbye just yet.
The Coraidic Sagas is a trilogy that gets better by multitudes with each volume. Empire of Shadows is an excellent finish that makes this whole saga an easy recommendation for someone looking for a sweeping epic with memorable characters, creepy magic, strong tribal relationships, evil empires, and promises of vengeance. It’s a stay-up-late story with many surprising reveals, and a powerful finish that will leave you wanting more from this world. I’m excited to see what Wanstall-Burke has up her sleeve next.
You can order this book from: Amazon