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Bane of Kings Reviews Empire State by Adam Christopher, published by Angry Robot Books. It is the author’s first novel. This is an advanced review from an eBook, so you can expect the book to be available to buy in January 2012.
“Fantastic prose. Christopher keeps the reader hooked from the beginning to end with his original storyline that will only leave you wanting more. Not to be missed.” ~The Founding Fields
I read Empire State a while back, and have had the review written quite some time ago as well, but I was holding this thing off until I got closer to the publishing date that is Jan. 2012. So, let’s get on with it, I think.
In the last great science hero fight between the Skyguard and the Science Pirate, the energy blast that happened during the battle ripped a hole in reality, birthing the Empire State, a parallel version of New York that’s set in the Prohibition Era.
I was going into this novel, not expecting anything big out of it, after all, it was Christopher’s first novel, and I haven’t read many superhero-containing novels before. However, what I found in these pages blew me away, Empire State was that good, and I think we may be looking at one of the best debut authors of 2012 already! (For your information, this book’s released in January, so it technically counts for the nomination.)
Empire State is told from two perspectives. Rad Bradbury, the Private Investigator in Empire State, is very much our protagonist. He’s a guy who you grow to like, and you’ll find yourself thinking you’ve known him all your life. Christopher has created a fantastic character in Rad Bradbury, and it’s a shame that Empire State is only a one-off.
Goddamitt, I want more.
The other character is Rex, from New York, the ‘proper’ New York. The one that we all know and love. (Bar the inclusion of superheroes, of course), and soon finds himself stepping into a whole new world. (Quite literally).
Although Rad and Rex are the main characters of this novel, with Rex being an anti-hero and Rad being the well, hero, you will find many layered characters, from Nimrod to Grieves, Captain Carson to Kane, each well developed and each with their own story to tell.
The pacing is fast, unusually fast for the noir-type fiction that I’ve read which are normally slow burners. (The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett is one example), and the plot is well thought out, and I’m going to say original because I haven’t quite seen anything like it before. Top notch stuff, and I can’t wait to read more from Christopher.
Fantastic stuff and I’m almost struggling to believe that Empire State is his first novel. There are twists and turns galore in this novel, as you’ll find it so unpredictable that you won’t know what’s coming next, and I like to see that in a book. It keeps you on the edge of your seat as you flick through the pages, desperately wanting to work out what happens next. Although the ending is rather, well, vague, I was too busy enjoying the first three quarters of the book for that to bother me that much.
There’s even some nice little extras as well, including an interview with the author, a list of songs that the author listened to whilst writing Empire State, and the start of a nice little World Builder Project, where Christopher allows you to play in his universe.
The world-building that Christopher has created is excellent by the way, allowing for anything in Empire State to fit a variety of genres/subgenres, from alternate history, noir, superhero fiction and any combination in between. The author is truly at the top of his game here, as explaining details about the world that he has created doesn’t slow down the fast paced plot.
It’s that awesome.
However, there is perhaps such thing as too many different things going on here, too many people with double agendas that you may find hard to keep track of. But don’t let that stop you from reading this book. It’ll be a hard one to beat for debut of 2012, and I believe that Angry Robot have themselves a winner with Empire State.
More Adam Christopher: Empire State (Jan 2012) Seven Wonders (Coming September 2012)