Monday, April 3, 2017

#Monday Review - Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza #YALit #Science #Fiction @rhodabee @RazorbillBooks

Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies # 1
Format: Hardcover, 314 pages
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library
Genre: YA, Science Fiction


The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne - and her revenge.

ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding - even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee's name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

In this exhilarating debut for fans of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles and Pierce Brown's Red Rising trilogy, RHODA BELLEZA crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

Empress of a Thousand Skies is the first installment in author Rhoda Belleza's Empress of a Thousand Skies series. I would put this story into the category of science fiction space opera. This is a story that actually features dual characters in Crown Princess Rhiannon "Rhee" Ta'an and Alyosha Myraz who serves at the pleasure of the Kalusian military. Each of character struggles with their own personal demons. Rhee wants revenge on the man she believes had a hand in her family's deaths, while Aly is just trying to survive in an universe that doesn't care for those with different skin colors.

Rhee is the apparent heir to the Ta'an Dynasty. She has spent the past (9) years away asking herself how she survived when her parents and sister did not. She's spent time focusing on getting her revenge and believes beyond a shadow of a doubt who is to blame. On the day of her sixteenth birthday, Rhee, who is supposed be attending her coronation, finds that she's been betrayed, & her world tossed up in the air by an attempted assassination. Rhee is rescued by a strange man in Dahlen who suggests that Rhee go into hiding since everyone now believes she is dead. He also believes that she is the key to saving the universe from yet another bloody war. 

Meanwhile, Aly finds himself being accused of assassinating Rhee after he and his partner chase down an unknown ship. He is a scapegoat pure and simple because of his skin coloring. This is a universe that does see skin color as a deal breaker. I know that's not necessarily the word that I wanted to use. But, in Aly's case he and his partner Vincent are stars of a hit show called Revolutionary Boys. Who better to put the blame on assassinating Rhee than on someone from the planet of Wraeton? Someone expendable? Someone from a planet that was devastated by war? Like Rhee, Aly finds himself in the company of a surprising character named Kara who really ends up throwing this entire series into question.

Both characters are absolutely brilliant, and author Belleza does a remarkable job with building each characters struggles, heart breaks, as well as plenty of ups and downs and twists. This is a story that features a power struggles and the threats of yet another war that will once again affect a large portion of the known world. I think what made this book fun for me, is that I waited until my library made a purchase. In the front of said book, there is an impressive map mapping out each place the characters visit, as well as what quadrants said planets are in. The bad thing is the minor hiccup in the synopsis. Aly and Rhee never do end up together. Each is separated, in some cases, by large distances. 

I am in shock at the ending. I dare say that whenever an author starts to introduce other characters to the story line, you better sit up and take notes, or pay real close attention to what she is trying to tell you. The world that Belleza creates is one with many different planets, with so much happening that you really have to look forward to what she comes up with next. It is a universe where everyone has what's being called a cube. These cubes are implanted so that you can story your memories. The only thing wrong with these cubes, is that they can also be used to track you. Empress of a Thousand Skies is the authors debut novel. It was an impressive read. I do hope that her follow-up is just as good.

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