They say love can move mountains. But can hate?
IMPERIA is a tale of revenge. It is a resurrection of Asian myth.
Thirty years is a long time to hold a grudge. The Red Empress has endured every single day of the past three decades living among enemies. A captive empress, she bides her time, her mind's machinations plotting a future bathed in blood. And then the waiting ends. Across the Empire of Heaven, the winds blow calmly no more. Evil battles evil in a fight for destiny itself. When a vendetta escalates into revolution, the Empress must choose between herself and something far greater. Incorporating elements of fantasy, horror, and erotica, Hatcher creates a world as dark and hypnotic as an opium dream.
***Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***
The opening was enough to hook you: a noblewoman embarking on a quest to consult with a seeress about the means to seek vengeance on those who’ve killed her family and devastated her people. What she learns is not fully revealed, but cements her path of retribution, a path that’s laid in blood.
The writing style is… fair, but uneven. It invokes an air of chaos and change, tumult and rebellion, but also despair and even resolve. The main characteristic Hatcher’s writing is typical of self-publishing: too much telling, not enough showing. Once again the reader is constantly told what’s going on, what’s happening to the characters, rarely experiencing it with them, through their eyes. And it dulls the impact of every significant event.
The setting is great!- a tale of intrigue and fantasy set in an imperialistic Chinese world, with a trace of Western influence. The lead character, Fei Sei, inhabits a milieu of constant intrigue with everyone jockeying for position and maintaining balance is often the difference between life and death. Sadly, it’s often under as the focus is shifted to other matters.
The conflict at the heart of the story is where it both burns brightly and fades to embers. Fei Sei is the only survivor of the barbarian raid on the imperial palace; she was wedded to the barbarian chief to give legitimacy to his rule. For over thirty years she’d suffered and planned in silence, biding her time until she was ready to strike back at those who slaughtered her family and crippled her people. Aided by steadfast friends and allies, Fei Sei sets in motion a web of deceit and misdirection to bring the barbarians to their knees. The problem, again, is in the delivery.
The dialogue is one of the most egregious areas the book fails in. As we’ve come to expect in classically inspired fantasy tales, speech patterns and diction are formal and precise… until they suddenly turn into slang and dialect. Ever wondered what it’d be like to see a Chinese peasant using words like “youse” and “ain’t”? Look no further than this book, and be prepared to get knocked right out of the story when it happens. Is this supposed to be China or Chinatown? I’ve no idea what the author was aiming for with this.
Another self-publishing pitfall is the ever present Telling, Not Showing. You’re never in the moment with the characters, more like always standing next to them waiting for them to tell you what’s going on with them. The story itself is interesting; the premise is definitely intriguing. Fei Sei’s chain of vengeance and retribution unfolds and blossoms, sometimes in the most haphazard and contrived ways. You’re left marveling at the ease many of her schemes play out, but only because of the gross stupidity of her enemies. It’s a classic case of the heroine almost winning by default.
There were so many ways this story could’ve succeeded and shone, like the promise of a diamond within a lump of coal. So much sparkle and brilliance waiting to burst forth and dazzle. And like so many self-published books, all it needs is a decent editor to bring it forth. 2.5/5 stars.