Read Empress of Mijak by Karen Miller Online


When a scrawny, unwanted child - so lowly that she does not even have a name - is sold into slavery, a chain of events is set in motion that will have a profound impact on all the civilised world. Naming herself 'Hekat' (after a slaver's observation that she is quite the hellcat), the girl is taken in chains to Mijak's largest city, but makes a bargain with a ruthless godWhen a scrawny, unwanted child - so lowly that she does not even have a name - is sold into slavery, a chain of events is set in motion that will have a profound impact on all the civilised world. Naming herself 'Hekat' (after a slaver's observation that she is quite the hellcat), the girl is taken in chains to Mijak's largest city, but makes a bargain with a ruthless god and escapes her captors. After she saves the life of a warlord, he takes her in and teaches her ways that an orphan might use to prosper in an uncaring world. When the warlord's family dies, the way becomes clear for Hekat to carve a dynasty out of infidelity and betrayal......

Title : Empress of Mijak
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780732284510
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 565 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Empress of Mijak Reviews

  • Hannah
    2019-04-17 17:10

    This is now my favorite book. I strongly urge anyone who hasn't read this to read it, and to read it with this in mind- you're not SUPPOSED to like Hekat. I grew tired of seeing reviews with people rating it only one star because "she's too mean" or "there's just something about her that makes me hate her." Hekat is set up in the first book to show you the background of the villain; to give you a look into how she got the way she did later on. If this book wasn't here, the next two would make you wonder "why is she like that?" This book is the answer to your question before you even ask it. And you're SUPPOSED to hate her... which means that the author actually did a fantastic job.

  • Heather
    2019-03-25 19:03

    This is the worst book I've ever read.First, the dialect quickly grows tiresome. The native language of the characters is formal, ritualistic and somewhat broken at the same time. Were it only the dialogue, it would be tolerable, but the narration is written in the same dialect. 700+ pages of it is too much, especially since an integral part of the language seems to be the misuse of the comma. If all of the run-on sentences were removed, there would be no book left.Second, the book revolves around a stifling, oppressive religious system that all but kills any sense of free will in the characters. This creates a certain amount of inertia and predictability that, again, grows tiresome. On a related note, the number of things named after the god is tedious. Godstone, godpost, godbraids, godpool, godbells, godsmite, etc. Enough already! Think of a different name to call things!Third, it is 100% impossible for any person except for a sociopathic serial killer to relate to the main character. She is nothing but selfishness, jealously, ruthlessness, hubris, and merciless hatred. She is devoid of any redeeming quality. I've heard arguments that you're not supposed to like her, but 700 pages of loathing the main character is too much. It may not be necessary to like a main character, but retaining a reader's interest usually DOES involve being able to sympathize with the main character on some level. Sympathizing with Hekat is impossible; it's only possible to wish she would have died in the first chapter so that one wouldn't have had to suffer her existence throughout the entire novel.Fourth, the last 50-100 pages of the novel are sickening. I have read many novels that contained graphic violence, and none have ever nauseated me the way this book has. Graphic violence sometimes has its place in a plot, but there is such a thing as gratuitous violence. Some details are so morbid and grotesque and needless that they are not worth the time it takes to write them.All in all, I was disgusted with this book and will not read anything by Karen Miller ever again. If her other books are better, then it's just bad luck that I read this one first, because now I will never know what those other books are like. I somehow doubt that I'm missing much.

  • Kat Kennedy
    2019-04-16 23:09

    Empress is something different. Kudos to Karen Miller for doing something that I have been ranting about for too long. Creating a strong, resourceful female protagonist. She does this in the form of Hekat, our eyes and ears to the unique world of Empress.Now if only I could convince her to write a strong, resourceful female protagonist that I actually like.The story is extremely well-written. The world that Karen Miller creates is something that many authors fail at: a world that is immersive. She manages to bring to life Hekat's surroundings in a way that is both artful and colourful. Yes, sentences run on slightly at times and some parts seem unnecessary and repetitive, but you can excuse these things when the over all effect is that you can almost see, taste and smell what the narrator is telling you about.Yet, like someone giving you the best foot massage of your life before ripping off your toenails, Hekat will undoubtedly ruin all Karen's hard work.This is the fatal flaw of Empress. You can not have such a long story based on a protagonist so unlikable. Now, I don't mean that protagonists should always be perfect or even flirt with the side of wholesome, fluffy bunnies. But they must be either relatable, or likable despite their shortcomings. If you're going to be a ice-hearted wench then you need to at least have style and charm. Hekat wouldn't know charm or style if it rose in front of her from the ground and danced naked with a sparkly dildo while singing "I'm a Survivor!"Hekat fails to carry her long, heavy narrative and it comes crashing down on top of her, spoiling what was otherwise a good read.

  • Mike
    2019-04-21 20:06

    So, I've read a few of the reviews on here so far about this book, and I'm frankly appalled. Not at the book, at the reviewers. "It's a horrible book, nobody and nothing to identify with!" - that's the point, boys and girls. If you identified with the characters in this book (well, with a notable exception), then I hope to never run into you in a dark alley.I am not going to give away the book, or the ending, or the characters. Well, maybe one of the characters.The main character of this book is Hekat - and you are not supposed to like her, or want to be her, or even live in her world. She looks down on "slaves" while being one herself, and refuses to accept her lot in life. This is good, right? Well, why look down on slaves as being inferior if you feel you aren't supposed to be one? The inherent contradiction in her character is what drags you in. You don't identify with her, you identify with the people she abuses and destroys. She uses them to her own ends. She has "god" on her side, and there's some pretty powerful mojo backing her up in that. There's a couple of "why exactly did that happen?" moments (such as WHY exactly she ends up with some items), but they are few and far between. God exists in this world. Is it the "god" we're used to? Not by any stretch of the imagination, but it DOES exist. It's brutal, uncaring, and it speaks to these people. Some more directly than others.Why people are berating the author for completely fleshing out a world, a society, a religion, and characters... I simply cannot fathom it. Every page, I want to know more, I want to see who did what, and what happens next. The gore fits the world. The author does not put it there for the sake of saying "look, death and blood and raaaargh!" - it's there to explain something, and to show that even the most "evil" beings have a reason for what they do. It's what makes the best villains. I was never scared of Sauron, because he was a nameless, faceless, and rather boring "character" - he didn't exist. Hekat, her little "kingdom," which becomes an empire... it frightens me. It makes me fear for the future of the world in which it exists. Not because "the evil hordes are coming" - but because "Hekat is coming, and the hordes are following her." Not that this series will be the next Lord of the Rings, but the villains are FAR more fleshed out, and not just "there." Don't skip this series, unless you truly cannot handle any gore (or strange fictional religions bother you).

  • Zabe Bent
    2019-04-16 17:06

    Update: I've been rereading with a writer's eye lately. This book is probably not for everyone, but it is brilliant. We are so accustomed to identifying with the protagonist. We want to root for the hero. Hekat is no hero, which spoils the enjoyment of this book somewhat. But this story deserves to be told, and Miller's writing pulls you in. If you can find a way to be as brave a reader as Miller is a writer, you won't be disappointed. On to book two. ~~Karen Miller's writing doesn't disappoint. But be warned, Hekat is not your typical fantasy protagonist-hero. I did not find myself rooting for her as the book went on. Quite the opposite, I found fewer and fewer redeeming qualities as the story progressed. That's the real reason for the low rating. On the one hand, I want to applaud Miller for creating a non-traditional, atypical relationship with a protagonist. On the other, I kept hoping something would happen to help me understand Hekat or the direction that the story was taking. It didn't happen, but I was certainly drawn in by Miller's writing.

  • Afryst
    2019-03-23 18:13

    Despite the single star I gave it, I'm tempted to recommend this to serious fans of the fantasy genre, as a case study. While I found it belaboured, it has some genuinely good ideas.The main character, Hekat, is fascinating (for all of several minutes). After a childhood of neglect and abuse, she enters adulthood with a pathological commitment to the acquisition of power. This, combined with boundless arrogance and cruelty, makes her completely inhuman, an archetype. The sympathy her childhood suffering had evoked in the reader is quickly burned away. In its place is left contempt, and distaste for her narcissism. She is not a vehicle or touchstone for the reader, not a narrator or witness. As soon as this transformation is complete, reading "Empress" becomes a chore. We have hundreds of pages of ranting and self-congratulation to go, with not a single likable or morally courageous character to balance the narrative.The only other major character is, somewhat unusually, the god. This god is not unknowable or aloof, but a god of the fire-and-brimstone persuasion, terrible and unpredictable. The god is referred to on just about every page, and its presence quickly becomes oppressive. At seemingly random intervals, it dispenses directives or punishment through a human avatar. Though the punishments run the gamut of medieval tortures (and an occasional bolt of lightning), the order of priests who support this seem utterly unburdened by moral doubt. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more serene, cheerful and loving group of religious zealots anywhere. This absence of genuine sentiment is universal, so the overwhelming impression of this book is one of great debates and moral quandaries neatly sidestepped. The priesthood cheefully follows every monstrous, contradictory decree, the rulers perpetrate one atrocity after another and the common citizenry seem prone to faint with pleasure at the mere sight of their social superiors. Despite the tagline "She will be a slave to no man", class upheaval is not the order of the day. Far from it, after Hekat escapes slavery, it is never mentioned again. Slavery, sexism, class struggle, religious oppression, dictatorship, familial obligation, self-determination, racism: Miller weaves these themes together with undeniable skill, then invites you to ignore them altogether.All in all, this leaves you with a thoroughly unlikeable character, surrounded by a bland supporting cast, following a schizophrenic, poorly interpreted puppeteer. The complete lack of an overarching plot or theme renders the actions of the characters meaningless, while their obvious roles as plot device guarantees you will never form any emotional connection. "Empress" has some instructional value to aspiring writers and fans of the genre. Karen Miller shows considerable skill in with dialogue and scenery, but ultimately her artifice has no heart, no message and very little appeal.

  • Terence
    2019-04-05 21:15

    Perhaps it's because I'm coming down from a China Mieville high having recently finished Embassytown but trying to read this was an awful experience.When the author's idea of representing the ignorance of peasants is to have them talk like The Cookie Monster* you know you're not in a good place, literature-wise.* Mea culpa: I impugn The Cookie Monster - at least he used verbs.

  • Ren
    2019-04-23 20:06

    I picked up this trilogy in Hastings for my birthday this year. I had seen it a couple times on the shelves before and my mother has always gave me this rule: If you see a book--or a series--on a shelf and you are unsure of it then leave it be. If you come back the next two or three times and the book is still there then you're meant to pick it up. So, I finally picked it up. My friend advised me to only get the first book, just in case I didn't like it I wouldn't have wasted money on the other two. However, I went ahead and bought them all together. I did not regret it at all. This series was absolutely amazing. It wasn't the best written in the world, but it was very creative in the story and I loved the characters. We're introduced to Hekat, whom many readers of this series seem to either love or hate. In fact, that seems to be the way it is with many characters. Anyway, we see the rise of Hekat, once unwanted she-brat, to the great Empress of a blood thirsty nation and a prophetess of sorts to their bleeding God. The trials that she overcomes, her faults, her positives, her 'lovers', her children. This first novel explains the birth and life of the series' villain. But is she really a villain? Read this and the last two books, then decide.

  • Alasdair
    2019-04-01 17:27

    WARNING, SPOILERS INSIDE and also, READ THE WHOLE SERIES, this book is not meant as a standalone!!!I would like to start with the fact that this is the darkest book I have ever read and many will hate it or completely miss the point. GRRM's ASOIAF has nothing on it. Hekat is the most deeply crazy and disgustingly arrogant being ever written about, she is the super villain of all times! She is more evil and horrible than the Governor in The Walking Dead. This aside many forget this is the first in a series, and Karen has written these books strangely, she starts off by telling you the full, unabridged story of the main villain and introducing the main good guy (also happens to be the big bad's son) without even introducing the rest of the good guys. Karen has set her main antagonist(the books protagonist) in a whole-ly unimaginable world (for most) where the people live in such fear of their deity that every single moment of their short, depressing and chained lives is spent trying not to piss it off or get killed by it. In fact their god is a blood thirsty demon about as bad as Khorne from Warhammer (if you know any of the Lore). Many cannot grasp this book because fantasy novels generally contain some form of magical baddy and a medieval superman in plate-mail not spandex. Here we are shown the horror that is Hekat evolve into the most disgusting example of a human being possible through other-worldly religious zeal to a demon and the most disgusting arrogance possible in a human.I enjoyed the book, it wasn't my fave in the series. I disliked the repeating use of God..., and everything in the dialect, but she is writing it more as a verbal story board for a psychological horror play than a book, and it made sense for the story.So yeah, read the rest, this is basically the longest prologue in the world and only focuses on the antagonist and her life before the main story.

  • Melania Ramona
    2019-04-19 21:03

    I give this book 4 stars because the world Karen Miller creates is truly unique and she manages to make it terrifyingly real and complete. The story is different also. If, at the beginning, I felt pity for Hekat, at the end I couldn't feel one ounce of simpaty for her, on the contrary. It was a tiresome novel, the sacrifice and fight scenes (and there are a lot of those) are so bloody they sometimes become sickening. They remind me of the bloody rituals of the Incas. Also, like someone else said, the ritualistic language becomes tiresome towards the end. It's like the characters can't open their mouths without talking about being in the god's eye.As I read the novel, I kept hoping someone, anyone would realize they are wrong, that their whole religion is wrong, but I guess, as this is the first book in the series, I was hoping for too much... On the whole, this is a good and interesting novel. I'd like to read other Karen Miller series. But this series... I think I'll let some time pass before reading the second book (although I know the action takes place in another country and I'm curious about Zandakar - him, I like) PS: I read a review where Hekat was described as "inhuman" and archetypal. I, for one, think she is not quite sane. I mean, not all the characters need to be "normal", no? And she definitely has the background of a psychotic person. Maybe that was the author's intention.

  • Nikko Lee
    2019-04-21 18:28

    Why I read this book?Empress by Karen Miller was recommended by a coworker who knew I enjoyed fantasy novels.My one sentence summary:A woman believes herself to be the instrument of god whether she is or not.Kuddos:From page one, Hekat's narrative voice was captivating. Her limited, yet all knowing perspective, is fascinating and pulls the reader into the story. She is not a good person, and whether she is acting on god's will or her own remains unclear. However, I kept reading to see what she would do next. Do not stand in this woman's way. The world setting is also interesting. It starts off in a desert land and weaves in a very complicated political intrigue. Hekat slave to no man and will destroy anyone she thinks might stand in her way, including her own son.Quibbles:The unique voice and dialect can be a little hard to get into at first. The only other quibble I have is that the subsequent books in the series lose that unique voice that made the first book a must read.Final Verdict:I'm going to read the rest of the series, even though I fear that the subsequent books will return to the realm of standard fantasy.

  • dverghest
    2019-03-26 22:12

    I had previously read the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series by Karen Miller, and though I did have some issues with her writing, particularly when it comes to dialogue and the use of very silly accents to signify socio-economic class, I thought they were good reads and wanted to try another series by the author. I wish I hadn't, and there is very little chance of me ever picking up another book by her. EMPRESS is a horrible waste of time, the worst kind of "poor and dirty child betrayed by parents and society, only to rise to power". What really bothered me the most is the worshipping of their gods and the portrayal of the society. There are rivers and pools and bassins and entire cascading waterfalls (or so it seemed) of blood everywhere, from sacrificial animals (who then magically vanished, not even leaving the meat to feed the hungry masses) as well as humans. I don't have a problem with sacrifice (errr, in literature), but the amount of butchered-off beings in this book was just insane. I realise that the author probably quite purposefully painted the society and its people as primitive, war-loving and harsh, and I can well imagine where the next two books in the series will go, but I will never find out. The book and the ideas in it genuinely disgusted me on a level where I just cannot find it in myself to spend x hours reading more about that universe. There were other and smaller things that niggled me as well (all the God*-things, the horribly broken language, the main character being a twat etc.), but it was mainly page upon page of streams of sticky, warm, slowly-coagulating blood that made this book a dreadful read.I actually have no idea why I was so determined to finish the damned thing, but I did and it is quite possibly the worst book I have ever read.

  • Foz Meadows
    2019-03-25 20:26

    The world of Mijak is brutal, unrelenting and savage. Every aspect of daily life is ruled over by a nameless, genderless god who requires regular blood sacrifice and whose symbol is the scorpion; in turn, the godspeakers who enforce these rules wield a magical power that is used both to heal and smite, though more commonly the latter. Slavery exists, and every territory within Mijak is ruled by a separate, conquest-hungry warlord. With the single, strange exception that women can become warriors and godspeakers - a dissonance which is never explained - the misogyny of the setting is absolute. Girl children are referred to as she-brats, women as sluts; sex is only ever called fucking; women are given status by birthing sons, not daughters; warlords can keep concubines; slaves are kept by the godspeakers specifically for soldiers to have sex with; and female warriors are forbidden from falling pregnant.In this context, we are introduced to a nameless, angry girl who, in the opening scene, hides under a table as her violent, stupid father rapes her mother, all while beating her and complaining that she keeps giving birth to useless she-brats and not enough sons. The girl, who goes on to become the main protagonist and is eventually given the name Hekat, has no sympathy for her mother. She is angry at the woman's weakness in letting herself be abused, and in retrospect, this should have tipped me off as to what the rest of the book would be like. The title, Empress of Mijak, is a literal spoiler, pointing to the intended shape of the story: we are here to watch Hekat, a self-professed goatslut sold into slavery, as she is taken to the great city of Et-Raklion, where she runs away, makes a pact with the god to be his instrument, becomes a knife-dancer, attracts the attention of Raklion warlord, and, in due time, becomes Empress. That's the plot in a nutshell: the entire novel is dedicated to showing us Hekat's journey. Occasionally, we see things from the perspective of the other, secondary characters, but never for long. We are here because of Hekat. And now comes the part where I'm conflicted - more deeply so, in fact, than I've ever been in relation to gauging any other book.Stylistically, Miller has made a deliberate decision to write the whole novel using a run-on sentence structure, with commas used where one might normally find full stops, colons or hyphens. The logic behind doing this - or so I assume - is to heighten the sense that Mijak is another world with its own language and spoken cadences, so that it only looks unusual in English because it has been, in effect, translated. This is further built upon by the constant repetition - and I do mean constant - of particular words and phrases, "the god see you in its eye" being chief among them. Again, there's a reason for this, because Mijak is a culture saturated with religion. Every thought and phrase of every character is sifted through this context, so that the repetition takes on a ritual flavour. The terms Miller has invented to describe the panoply of her religion are a heavyhanded case in point: there are godbowls, godbells, godposts, godmoons, godspeakers, godsnakes, godbraids, godbones, godbreath, godhouses, godsmite, godpools, godsparks, godpromises, godstones and godsight - and all those words are used frequently, often in the space of a single page or paragraph.Reading the book, I did fall into the rhythm of the writing; I got used to reading that particular voice, and it did feel representative of the culture. I was more aggravated by the constant god-prefixing earlier in the book, when a sudden blizzard of such similar-sounding terminology started to have the same effect that repeating the same word over and over will have. But again, I adjusted, and as the story settled down, I adapted to the ubiquitous god-references. That being said, while the effect was bearable - and while I can understand completely the reason for doing it - the endless repetition weighed down the story like wet sand weighs down a beach towel. It is an odd thing to find a book which simultaneously has too much and too little happening, but Empress of Mijak somehow fits the bill. On the too-much hand, there are sudden leaps in time between the end of one chapter and the start of another, so that while we start with Hekat as a twelve-year-old girl, by the end of the book her eldest son is well into his twenties. Momentous events, like the conquest and subordination of enemy cities, happen in the space of paragraphs, their success glossed over as background detail. For a novel with such a potentially massive scope - being, as it is, the story of a slave girl rising to the position of empress and her subsequent desire to conquer the world - there is no political interplay, no sense of warring factions or alliances, except within the discordant personalities of the main characters. Lacking this higher, political focus, one might reasonably expect the bulk of the story to be therefore rooted in character development and interpersonal relations.But on the too-little hand, the vast majority of the internal dialogue of every single character, which in turn constitutes the bulk of the novel's description, is so obsessed with the god - wondering what it wants, asking it for favours, trying to guess if they're in its favour and constantly referencing it by way of the phrases and neologisms mentioned above - that it soon becomes exhausting. More importantly, all that religion comes at the cost of individual insight and development. Beyond the fact that every character believes themself to be following the god's will, and hoping they've got it right, there is precious little introspection, and even less sympathy. This is personified by the coldness of the protagonist. Hekat is never concerned with anything other than her own wants and the wants of the god. She never doubts. She is rarely curious. She is ruthless, single-minded and selfish, and while that might make her an extremely realistic character, given what she has endured, it also makes her deeply unpleasant to read about. Which is where, for me, the book really started to fall down. The opening scenes describing Hekat's life in the Savage North are horrific, designed to engender sympathy - and for a while, they succeeded. The way Abajai the trader cares for Hekat, making her feel special for the first time in her life, is bittersweet and compelling, because we know it cannot last: unlike Hekat, we are always aware that Abajai treats her differently to the other slaves, not because he loves her, but because he percieves her as valuable, and plans to make her into a warlord's concubine. When she finally discovers this and runs away, our sympathies go with her. But even at this point, Hekat herself has never been a likeable character. Her plight has engendered empathy, but she is selfish, spiteful and arrogant: all understandable, of course, all things we tolerate due to her youth and circumstances, but only because we are waiting for her to mature into something better.She never does. Ultimately, the greatest failing of Empress of Mijak is one of tonelessness, of a static world and static characters. In the entire novel, not one character develops beyond their original description: the only change is in their circumstances, in how powerful or downtrodden they become. After she makes her vow to serve the god, Hekat becomes steadily more manipulative and unlikeable in persuit of her goals, until we are left reading about a character we wanted to come to like, but who has never even tried to earn our affection. And here is another strange thing, between the static development and the pervasive religiosity: we do not know where Hekat gets her motivation. Yes, she wants to serve the god, and by certain accounts, that god appears to be real. The godspeakers have power, their rituals dominate society; there is never any question of unmasking a false belief system. And yet, the reader carries these questions with them throughout the story: is the god really speaking to Hekat, Vokta and Nagarak, giving them instructions and protection, or is the power they each possess simply magic, which in this world has been conflated with religion, so that the guidance they think they hear is nothing but their own thoughts echoed back at them? There are flashes throughout the story that this might be so, or at the very least, that it is possible for individual characters to act on their own impulses while believing themselves to be divinely guided, but never more than that. And this is problematic, for the simple reason that Hekat hears messages from the god that nobdy else does, and that these messages - which we only ever hear about in her own words, after the fact - constitute her sole motivation. With no way of knowing what she has been told, and with her devotion to the god never in question, it is impossible to tell why she does things, where the line is between her own desires and those of the god (if it exists), or if there's a line at all.The dilemma posed by trying to understand Hekat's motivation is a dilemma common in the real world, where only our personal convictions are a deciding factor in whether or not a given god is real, where we cannot really know how devout or selfish a given person is except by their actions. In that respect, the above confusions are deeply realistic. But because Empress of Mijak is a fantasy novel - because we know that the godspeaker powers are magical, regardless of whether their deity is real - the god itself begins to feel like something of an absent character; because if it is real, then its desires and motivations are the only real substance of the book, and we cannot fully understand them if it remains in absentia; and if it is not real, then everything the characters believe about their world is wrong, and the tenuous, borrowed morality which allows us to understand their frequently terrible actions is broken: we want them to rebel, and instead they persist in making their world a more vile, more wretched place than it was even in those opening, rape-filled paragraphs. Which leads me to a final point: the misogyny. Empress of Mijak is a book filled with institutionalised, socially accepted violence against women, and the only exceptions to their second-class treatment - women warriors and women godspeakers - seem to be present solely to justify Hekat's rise to power, and not because they fit with anything else in the story. Given a lone female protagonist ascending to the heights of power in such a male-dominated world, I had expected to feel at least a little solidarity with Hekat's efforts; or rather, I had expected her to have some fondness or sympathy with women to counterbalance her outspoken hatred of men. But we do not see this, largely due to the dearth of other female characters. We hear, in passing, that one female warrior was killed at Hekat's command because she couldn't accept that Hekat was now her superior, and in the final, grotesque pages of the book, Hekat cuts an unborn child out of her daughter-in-law to punnish her son for his defiance. Hekat is a misanthrope, a sociopath, a woman in a world run by men who, in defending her right to power, actually declares that she is not a woman, but a warrior, a killer, the god's instrument and a mother to her son. So, there we have it. The world of Mijak was realistically, brutally drawn - so much so that it was impossible to like or feel attachment to either the people or the culture. It was written in a style designed to provoke a sense of place and culture, which it achieved, but at the expense of paciness and depth. The main character was, again, a realistic person, but so savage in her actions and so monotone in her thoughts that she was painful to read about. In the end, I only feel like I persisted with the book in order to get some closure, and so I could feel justified in writing this review - which, in fairness, I've been wanting to write for days, because if there's one thing Empress suceeded in doing, it was making me think, and that is always of benefit.

  • Donna
    2019-04-08 16:25

    I wanted to like this book.It's an epic fantasy that has a detailed setting and some really unique touches. It's about a common girl who, through a combination of ability and ruthlessness, raises herself to power.It's also depressingly flat. Most of the characters are unlikeable, and aren't interesting enough to make up for that. Hekat sees things in terms of black and white, which makes her reactions predictable and her few moments of introspection dull. Characters who are initially more sympathetic eventually seem weak or foolish because they never understand her, even after seeing numerous examples of how far she'll go. Also, a good bit of what might have been early suspense is ruined by the title spoiler.The story has a lot of opportunities to explore some of its themes on a deeper level, but instead it just skims along the surface of the plot. Lots of issues are raised but never really addressed. Hekat's stark worldview and total self-confidence mean that she never faces a real challenge or even a difficult decision. She always knows just what to do, and she is never thwarted for long.I think the biggest weakness of the story is its ever present deity. When your main characters are all guided by a god, then there's very little for them to choose or question.

  • Sandra Glenn
    2019-04-07 18:25

    I applaud Karen Miller for taking a risk in creating the character of Hekat. In theory, it's the kind of book I've been craving. However...I really wanted to love Empress, but by the time I was 2/3 into it, I hated who the protagonist had become. I simply cannot enjoy a book unless I can identify with the main character at some level. I got within 50 pages of the book's end, and couldn't quite finish it.Also, it was unclear to me whether Miller's imagined world actually contained magic, or the characters just believed it to be so. I don't mind that sort of ambiguity if it's handled well, but there were so many conflicting yes/no hints throughout that I grew weary of trying to decide. Finally, I found Miller's use of a single descriptor "god-" as a tag for anything considered magical or divine rather tiresome. Godbells, Godsmite, Godthis, Godthat...I felt she hadn't really put sufficent thought into that part of her world.However, your mileage may vary. I should add that while I found G.R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books maddening because of their brutality, I also loved them because of the occasional sympathetic character (Tyrion!). Danaerys Targaryen, for example, is a lot like Hekat, and also does some terrible things, but I love her character because she isn't pure evil. I can handle antiheroes, but they must have some spark of underlying humanity, and the world of Empress was just dark, dark, dark.That said, Ms. Miller can definitely write, and while I might not have fully enjoyed the choices she made with her characters, I must give her credit for wisking me off to another world, though a world too brutal for me to feel at home in.

  • Tea
    2019-04-10 21:21

    This one of the first books I have never finished, but it is one about which I can see that the reason for ditching it was probably a matter of preference in storytelling, not because it was a poorly done book. While Karen Miller is proficient with words and had neat concept and plot, I think the major mistake was writing this book from the point of view of Hekat. Hers is a character that I would have enjoyed and been more fascinated with had she been viewed from the perspective of others, not from her own. While I could sympathize and in some cases empathize with Hekat's position, feelings, and perspective, reading a story from the point of view of someone who has been so psychologically and emotionally abused is exhausting. If there had been one or two other characters with whom Hekat could have shared major portions of the narration, or given over to it completely, I might have been able to endure, but in this case it was too much.From what little I know of those who have suffered the forms of abuse and neglect which Hekat herself has experienced in early life, I can say that the impact of these things upon her character is quite accurate and realistic (such as attachment disorders).Again, this is not necessarily a bad book. I am sure there are many who will be fascinated with Hekat's psychology and purpose, and who won't feel compelled to put down the book in the face of her personal sickness. But if you are the sort that, like myself, is easily exhausted by severely distorted characters, this may not be the book for you (or you may want to pace yourself).

  • Ithlilian
    2019-04-23 23:27

    A nameless she-brat was born in a desolate desert area where female children were seen as worthless. Her father "the man" decides to sell her to a wealthy merchant that sees beauty in the dirty nameless child. Even at her young age she has fire in her. Her master calls her a Hell cat, thus she chooses her name-Hekat. From then on Hekat decides that she will be no mans slave. For she is strong, she is powerful, she is beautiful, she is chosen of the god.I will go no further for fear of spoilers. Hekat is a very strong character; she is arrogant, she is unflinching in her loyalty to her god, and she is determined to conquer the world. Some may find her loyalty to the god to be strange, some may see Hekat as unlikeable, ruthless, heartless. She may be those things, but for a reason. When I think of Hekat I see a nameless girl that had been stepped on too many times and a slave that was betrayed. She turned her fate around, the god smiled upon her and granted her wishes, she must be important for this to be the case. I felt no remorse for the people Hekat destroyed along her way to power. Described in one word, Hekat is INTENSE.This book may not be for the squeamish, but if you can get past the killing enough to grow to like Hekat somewhat, than this book is well worth your time. If you are a fan of character driven epic fantasy with strong characters and great world building, than this is the novel for you. If you decide to read it, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

  • Kerstin
    2019-04-07 23:25

    Very different from her previous series, the Godspeaker Trilogy is raw, crude, and at times vulgar. The main character Hekat is psychotic, grown up in a life of pain, blood, and the secret whispers of her god. She is almost unbelievable and almost unlovable but she pulls pity and sympathy as she fights to reach her ambitions and those of her god. Very long and at times confusing I enjoyed this book immensely for its vivided characters and twisted plot. If you want a challenging and simulating read I would definitely advise this.

  • Shaitarn .
    2019-04-10 23:08

    I'm giving Empress two stars for the richly imagined setting. Based in a desert world where the kingdoms are slowly becoming infertile, this world has a rigid, very patriarchal, social structure and a heavy handed religion that demands obedience. The sights and sounds of the world are vividly described, even if they're not for the squeamish (lots of animal sacrifice).Sadly all the good work the author put in with the setting was ruined by the main character, Hekat. Born a nameless 'girl-slut' to a worthless father and a beaten mother, Hekat is sold to slavers for a few coins and groomed by the slave trader to become a concubine of great worth. When this penny finally drops with Hekat, she escapes to forge her own destiny. Sounds intriguing, but Hekat is unbearable as a main character. Self-centred, arrogant and completely uncaring of everyone around her, I found it impossible to feel any empathy for or interest in her. Apparently this was the author's intention, to create the background for a villain character - well if so then hat's off to you, Ms. Miller, you succeeded - to a point. Hekat isn't a charming or compelling villain, she's just someone I don't want to spend time with. So I won't be reading the other two books in this trilogy - they've already been cleared off my shelves and will be going to the charity shop. Hopefully someone will appreciate them more than I did.

  • Angela
    2019-04-13 15:04

    A 700 page fantasy like something ripped out of an ancient Sumerian myth of chariots and kings, a mash-up of an Old Testament epic and heavy metal lyrics. Slavery! Blood! Scorpions! Death! More scorpions! More death! How you can you not love anything with this much unapologetically ham-tastic scenery chewing? People don't converse in this world, they emote. If you've seen the SNL skit, "Lothar of the Hill People"... that's how all the dialogue goes, pretty much all the time. ... "It has been many moons since I walked with a woman," etc.Hekat, our heroine (I use this term loosely), is an ex-slave girl turned warrior, determined not to be used again, at any cost. Really any cost. Maybe she's a Mary Sue deconstruction, when a Beautiful Girl with a Tortured Past and a Plot Significant Scar, who's the Best at Everything She Does and is the Divinely Chosen One with Special Powers and Magical Crystals... becomes a monomaniacal paranoid psychopath. Halfway through the novel, the light went on: our heroine is the series *villain*. She's the one that raises the evil empire the heroes need to fight off! It's magnificent. Some people find her disturbing, but I find it helps to realize that we're supposed to root against her. I love to hate her. She's infinitely entertaining. I'm waiting for her to die. More popcorn!

  • Aoife
    2019-04-08 21:16

    2.5 stars Empress follows a young girl named Hekat when at is sold as a slave by her father to traders. Hekat is beautiful and treated well by the traders as she travels across the land to Et-Raklion. She learns to talk properly and to read and write but is soon unhappy with her future plans. Hekat is godtouched, precious and beautiful and she will be more than what people say she is.The concept of this sounded great. A young girl fighting against the expectations put upon her by men because of her beauty. A woman who becomes a warrior and breaks her chains and rises up to power. And yes, that all sounds great except that Hekat is absolutely insufferable. She is arrogant, vain and cruel and I really hated her story. I enjoyed the world building we got in Et-Raklion and how much we learned about the religion and a God who is very much present in its people's lives. But Hekat ruined everything, I really hated her and she's the main character! There were times I wanted bad things to happen to her just so she'd get off her high horse.I didn't plan on reading the next book because I can't deal with Hekat but I've realised the sequel follows a completely new character in another part of the world so I think I will give that one a shot.

  • Ivette
    2019-04-08 21:22

    This book made me want to bash my head against the first godpost I could find. I would rather swim with the scorpions than read the next installment. This book is NOT precious. It is NOT chosen. It should be thrown in the nearest godpool where it will definitely be smited. And we will all rejoice!

  • R K
    2019-03-24 16:02

    Ok...This book is actually somewhere in between 3.5 and 4 starts. It's not quite a 4 star book but this book is beyond the 3 star spectrum.AnywayThis is a fantasy story focusing primarily on Hekat and later on, a vast variety of perspectives.The book takes place in a different world where there exists 5/6 "districts" that are ruled by a warlord. Each district acts like its own kingdom and there is even a top religious member called a godspeaker (like how cultures have kings and religious heads). The people in this world are devoutly religious to their god. Like extremes are considered normal in this world. It was interesting to read but it did feel too over the top and draining at times (we'll get back to this). An interesting thought I had while reading this book was, "No culture would really go this far with their religion, this is ridiculous!" but then I stopped and thought of past cultures and what they went to war for and suddenly this devout-mass worship seemed quite normal. But I don't think that the author was trying to make some deep connection to our world reference, yet it was interesting thought by itself. I think that for the first book, the build up of the world and its culture; how it shapes the people and MC/s was very well done.The characters were another pro. They are well developed. Diverse personalities along with their own experience and position have really fleshed them into believable characters. Nothing they do is beyond their psychological makeup. Each is interesting in their own way, especially Hekat. Hekat is NOT your typical female protagonist who rises from her low beginnings. This girl is ruthless. I'm not kidding. She lets nothing stand in her way. Anything or ONE is just gone. She is harsh on herself and those around her. What I especially like, I don't know if this was intentional, but at the beginning of the book up till part 2, you read mostly from Hekat's perspective. Her thoughts, emotions, etc. You see the effect her surroundings have made to her mind and as you progress along the story, these effects become explanations, for some part of her character. Yet, towards the end of part 1, she goes through a character transformation which causes her to 1. Not be the sole perspective you read from and 2. Not fully understand her.It's like the reader themselves gets pushed away from Hekat's mind. She no longer becomes completely understandable to the reader and you have to see both her view to get an understanding of the world and others view to get and understanding of her. It may not make sense but it works well for this book.You are not supposed to like her. You are not supposed to like anyone because they are all people and people are inherently morally ambiguous!!!Now finally the plot. It was pretty good and entertaining. There wasn't a boring moment and I was always wondering what will happen next but, there was a major problem that this book had that brought it down from 4 stars. Hekat ALWAYS gets her way. Anything she said, planned, or ordered happened. She never failed or lost. She always got her way and while it was entertaining because she just grew more and more ruthless, it did become dull because you knew as the reader that she would win in the end. There wasn't even any struggles to get what she wanted. She didn't have a tactical mind so her 'method' to get her way was to be stubborn, prideful, sneaky, and ruthless. However, she wasn't manipulative. She truly believed that what she was doing was correct. I liked where we ended in the book but I'm drained to go on so soon.The other issue with this book was the intensity of this culture's religion. There are sacrifices going on left and right, day and night. There was even a moment where 500 or so calves were sacrificed. There was torture wheels and scorpion pits as tests to rectify sinning and testing to see if 'god sees you in his eye'. There was so much blood shed in this religion that it just made it all the more interesting when characters were proud of their religion because this isn't a religion whose underlying principle is peace. This is a cruel harsh religion that promises power, strength and magical abilities on the stern condition of extreme piety and obedience.But truth be told, it was also funny how easily characters were swayed into doing things just by Hekat or someone else saying that the god has told them this or that the god will strike them dead if they are wrong. It made me wonder how easy it would be to manipulate these people into doing what I want them to do just by saying that the 'god' told me this.Overall, it's a great interesting book with a great cliffhanger ending but it can get intense with the religion and Hekat consistently getting her way does get annoying butI would recommend for those who:- like morally ambiguous characters-like super strong female character (not feminist themes though)-like complex worldsWoahRTC

  • Ben Babcock
    2019-04-18 17:06

    Some people are just, to quote Daffy Duck, “dith-spicable!”Empress is about a girl who grows up with no name, in a dirt-poor village on the edge of a desert, unwanted and unloved. She gets sold to a passing trader, who anticipates being able to train her as a concubine. This event triggers something in the girl, some hidden ambition or untended guile. She gives herself a name—Hekat—and begins plotting, eagerly soaking up everything Abajai the trader can teach her. When she discovers that he only sees her as a commodity, that his investment in her is purely so he can get a better return, and that she is nothing more than a slave, Hekat runs away. She insinuates herself into the barracks of the local warlord and eventually inveigles her way into the ranks of warriors themselves—no mean feat for someone born in a backwater and malnourished and mistreated all her life.Hekat’s learning curve is meteoric and remarkable. She goes from not having names for anything—she herself is a “she-brat” and her presumed mother and father are merely “the woman” and “the man” to having a name for herself, for her country, and for the various cities within it. She learns that people routinely travel more than a couple days’ walk from the village, that massive cities larger than she could ever have dreamed exist, that warlords raise vast warhosts to do battle. She learns how to ride, how to fight, and more. Hekat would be a textbook example of a Mary Sue … if we were supposed to like her.Many writers enjoy taking characters like Hekat and creating pathos as a result of their struggles. Karen Miller opts instead to test the reader’s ability for empathy to its limits. Hekat is not a likable person. She hurts people and enjoys it. She is vicious and ready to retaliate at any opportunity. If she is wronged and does not have the strength to retaliate, she remembers until she does. In this way, Hekat keeps trading up, starting as the poorest and most wretched of creatures and attaining—well, without spoiling it, the book is called Empress, mmkay?Is a character still a Mary Sue even if she is completely unsympathetic while everything goes right for her? I don’t know. I’m not even sure it’s right to call Hekat the protagonist of the book—I suppose that depends if you think she should succeed. Then again, there’s also the fact that she thinks she has “the god” on her side. And unlike in our world, where the fundamentalists’ cries of, “Strike him down, God!” are generally met with silence from on high, this god is quite direct in its responses to such requests. So is it evil if what one does serves the god and it indicates this?Beyond Hekat’s personal flaws there is the larger world of Mijak and beyond to consider. Mijak is a country firmly in the grasp of religion. Each of its warlords has a personal high “godspeaker”, a priest who communes directly with the nameless god that Mijak people worship. This high priest has under their charge thousands of lesser godspeakers, who collect offerings from the people for the god and explain the omens the god gives people. Everything in Mijak revolves around the god, as indicated by the language: temples are called “godhouses”, months are “godmoons”, offering bowls are “godposts”, etc. As many other reviewers have pointed out, this is repetitive to the point of annoyance.Mijak culture, aside from its godliness, seems remarkably impoverished. I don’t know if this is intentional or merely a consequence of Miller’s writing. At one point, Hekat purchases “stories” on clay tablets. Beyond this, there isn’t a lot of time spent establishing how the Mijak people make art, literature, drama. These are people who are technologically on the same level as the Babylonians, thereabouts. But they seem to lack much of interest in the lineages of their warlords, in stories depicting grand deeds from the past, in tales of heroes and villains. Each day is just another day serving the god.I’m ambivalent about how much I enjoyed Empress. It’s a hefty book, and it could stand further elision at points. Yet I also ripped through it at a hearty pace—I was intrigued enough by Hekat’s deviousness, by her machinations versus Nagarak, that I wanted to know what would happen next. However, I never felt immersed in the world like I have with other fantasy novels. I suppose it’s fair to say that Empress is a very focused book, and so it is good at what it does, but it lacks the wide depth-of-field and rich background that I also enjoy.My reviews of the Godspeaker Trilogy:The Riven Kingdom →

  • Mark
    2019-04-18 23:19

    With the first book in her new trilogy,Karen Miller makes it very clear that she has more than one rabbit in her hat when it comes to weaving a story.Leaving behind the more traditional fantasy world of her Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology, Miller embarks on a savage journey through the land of Mijak; and a civilisation that is ancient, dark and ruled by the iron hand of a bloodthirsty God, its Warlords and its ordained Godspeakers. It is a harsh and brutal world where survival of the fittest and adherence to the laws of the God is the only life the people know. This parched world of searing deserts, rocky climbs and grassy plains is brought to life in the vibrant and often cruel culture that is reminiscent of the world of the Aztecs and Robert E Howard’s Hyborian Age.The mould of the Heroic Fantasy is turned on its head in this world that is familiar yet unique, and we are introduced to Hekat, an unwanted ‘she-brat’. Born on the edge of the great desert called the Anvil she is sold into slavery by her father to a trader who recognises in her the spark of great potential and the promise of riches she may bring him. But he gets more than he bargained for, as Hekat has made a deal with the God and stands in its Eye – and she will be ruled by no man.What follows is a confronting and engrossing tale of ruthless ambition and the manipulation of secular power for material gain. It is unapologetically violent and barbaric, being set amongst a war-like culture, yet is also steeped in the grandeur of ancient tradition and the flare of Babylonian-like artistry. Politics and plots abound, vows are made and broken and the lines of good and evil, as based in traditional fantasy, are irrelevant in a society where the only law to be on the right side of is that of a capricious God, whose desires are read in the bloody ritual sacrifices of it’s Godspeakers.Miller has written a breathtaking tale that many fantasy readers may find confronting; she pushes the boundaries of the genre and brazenly hooks the reader page by page, chapter by chapter, as she weaves a magic that just seems to ooze from every sentence. It is a challenging read and it’s to Miller’s credit that she doesn’t flinch from immersing the reader in the more violent aspects of Mijak, nor is any of the world’s brutality gratuitous; it is all intrinsic to setting the stage for what is to come.This is the first book in an exciting new trilogy and a work that highlights the writer as a talent to watch. Make no mistake, Miller has her eye on the world stage, and from reading this book I reckon she’s got what it takes to get there!

  • James
    2019-04-21 22:20

    Karen Miller has succeeded in what other authors have failed at. She has made me completely despise the main character of this novel. But let me quickly say that this was a great novel. It was a fast read, kept my interested, and I actually read every word. Sometimes in a book, when the author tends to meander on in their narration, I'll sometimes skip a sentence or two ahead just to make the passage go by faster. Here, I read the entire novel from cover to cover and was enthralled in this fantasy universe of The God and how it moves its pieces.While we don't actually see or learn about The God, the religion of Hekat (the main protagonist) and her world is present on nearly every page. It is, in and of itself, a main character. I am going out this weekend and picking up the last two books of this trilogy, anxious to finish the story."Empress" follows the story of Hekat. Born in poverty in the Savage North, she is sold to Traders into slavery. We follow her as she grows and watch as she slowly works herself further and further into a better life under the service of The God. While one would normally root for a person in this position, I actually found myself wishing something bad would happen to bring Hekat down out of her little self-righteous world. She hates men, uses them only for her own desires (those of The God) and is just a total @#$$ to everyone around her. Miller's last series of books, "Kingmaker, Kingbreaker," did something similar. Following a small fisherman's son up to the higher ranks of power. The passage of time is something I feel Miller handles well. While we aren't told specifically how many months or years pass, we can tell our characters are passing through their lives and moving on.

  • Blodeuedd Finland
    2019-04-15 23:27

    Wow, this book has no heroine, instead it has a cold insane bloodthirsty bitch. She would cut you down for just looking at you. She puts the B in bitch. If I had read this book from another POV I would have hated her and hoped scorpions would feast on her heart, but as it was. She was strong, ruthless, and the end, I mean omg, what a fucking bitch! A true anti-heroine.The world is harsh, women are less than dirt in some places and priest rule and cast down sinners. Warlords rule districts and the land is cold and bloody. The religion is God and Demons and I do wonder sometimes who is talking to Hekat, demons or God? Because someone sure is.The book is also bloody and raw. She is sold as a slave and soon learns a lesson, which seems to make her even more insane. But then she did grow up without a name, often chained to the wall, never spoken too and only referred to as a she-brat. As girls in her part of the worlds were nothing. Also I never get that, the same is true about our crazy world. What are they thinking? You are just gonna end up with men and no women, yeah real clever thinking there.At the end I want more. Because this world is going to hell. War is tearing the world apart, blood is flowing like rivers and no one is spared. Kids are killed, women are killed, everyone is killed. I must know how it all will end. And I do hope Hekat gets what is coming to her. Because even if she is interesting to read about the final straw did come and I hope God will smite her wicked soul.A dark and interesting start to this series.

  • Cindy
    2019-04-18 15:28

    After reading other people's reaction to this book I was walking in prepared to hate this book with a passion. While I didn't love the book it was really entertaining. Hekat is a very very scary woman, one that borders on the psycho side. Miller does a great job in bringing her character alive. While many people can't relate to her, you understood why she was the way she was. However I was glad that she couldn't jump out of the pages at me because if she did I would probably have died of fright. I did feel the book was a bit depressing (and really I could have done with the swearing and cussing cut in half). But overall it was a book that I was glad that I read and I can't wait to start in on the other books. The book did slow down at the end, and I did find it a little boring at times but over all it was a great read and really something to look into.

  • Writtenwyrdd
    2019-03-30 23:27

    An impressive fantasy world here. Typical epic fantasies are set in something more like Medieval realms, but this one is set in a bloodthirsty Mesopotamian-like era, with well-realized characters and vivid imagery. I particularly thought the author's use of language was a winner, especially in the dialog, which is distinctive to this fantasy world without being annoying. if you don't mind reading a 700+ page tome and you like high fantasy, you might enjoy this. I am reminded of the old Tanith Lee works, except this one is character driven and far more detailed than Ms. Lee's works. Moongather and Moonscatter come to mind, actually.

  • Padmavathitx
    2019-04-16 23:23

    This was a great book you love and hate the main characters at the same time. The next two in the series did not engender the same level of interest in the characters.