Engines of Empire by R.S. Ford


My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Link

Please note in an exchange for an honest review, I received an advance reader copy (ARC) from NetGalley.

The description of the book is what caught my attention. Particularly, the "magic-fueled machines" since I immediately thought this would be some sort of steam punk novel (which, I've never read).

After reading this book, the closest thing I can think that is similar to this world is Final Fantasy 7. Throughout the book, machines called stormhulks were mentioned and I just inserted one of the various machines you fight in FF7. The are these stones called pyrestones that artificer's make to power these machines. For them, I straight up just thought of it as FF7's materia.

If you're into that type of magic (and more!) then I would give this a read. Even though it didn't go into too much detail with it, it was good enough for me.

What I Loved

  • The various magic and how it interacts with the machines. As mentioned above, this world just reminded me of FF7's world but just not as advance.
  • The political/conspiracy drama, the twists and surprises! I think I actually gasped a total of 3 or 4 times. Those parts of the story were the most memorable and honestly it felt like I was watching a TV show at times.
  • I'm not a fan of all characters we follow but I actually think that's what makes me mark it as something I loved. Even though I wasn't a fan of Rosomon, I actually enjoyed reading her parts more than others just because she had the right personality for that political environment. I can't imagine any other character handling her situation with such elegance.
  • The epilogue. I'm very interested in a particular character's journey so it definitely hyped me up!

What I Disliked

  • The antagonist of the story seem very one dimensional. I particular don't understand why they did somethings.
  • The nation of Torwyn is being divided by two. Both sides say that they are what is best for the people but you never get to see it or explained how or why they are the better solution. Since we mostly follow the Hawkspur Guild, the reader is already biased towards one side. Some more world building involving your average citizens would help a lot to actually demonstrate why even consider the other side. Doing so would actually help out the first point since we would understand the antagonist better.
  • Tyreta's story was good but found the pacing slower or just not as interesting compare to the others. When things picked up for the other characters, I found myself speed reading her sections just because I wanted to get back to other characters.
  • This is me being nitpicky, but I absolute hate when a story tries to make the character seem humble by saying how much they don't use their privilege/their name to get things they want. I believe all the character's were guilty of this, Rosomon the most. It always feels like it's trying to force me into liking them by saying 'Yeah, they're rich and lived a really good life but don't worry, they're just like you and me!'. Considering how all the character's started, I honestly find it hard to believe that they never actually mistreated someone like a servant or thought low of them. Rosomon actually even made comments about Starn, her guard, and Athelys, her handmaid, a few times.

Final Thoughts

The story and character's were interesting. While not perfect (and nothing really is), I believe R.S. Ford wrote a good introduction to his The Age of Uprising series and I look forward to picking up the second book!

Warning! Spoilers ahead!

A quick little section:

My Favorite Character(s): Out of all the perspectives we follow, I would have to pick Fulren with Conall a very close second. I liked Fulren from the moment he was introduced since he seemed like the most level headed one out of all the children.

Favorite Moment:

  • The reveal of Rosomon's affair made me gasp. I honestly did not expect that!
  • Conall and Sten's frienship! Love how Sten called out Conall's privilege ass out at the end! While many others told him how easy of an life he had, hearing it from his best friend definitely shut him up.

Random Thoughts

  • I don't like how Conall was set up as Beringer's murderer. It completely felt force since Sten told him to take the long barrel into the meeting (which he never has done before) for the reason that essentially just boiled down to "you never know". Someone should have seen Tarrien with a barrel as well! Even though I love her, I honestly was hoping that Sten would eventually reveal herself as a hidden spy just to make it seem like it was the plan all along.
  • I don't really hate Rosomon but she is by far my least favorite. I do appreciate how flawed she is (not the greatest mother, values her guild's reputation) and I do think it was necessary for the story to have a character like her.
  • If there is no body, then I don't believe they are dead.
  • I hope we get to see Wenis again! Still not a fan of Fulren and her relationship. It still feels like it came out of nowhere.