Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt, Book One): Adrian Tchaikovsky

This is the first of the Shadow of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky, set in a nicely created fantasy world. In this world all the characters, the “humans” are related to insects, and from the type of insect their related to they inherit some of the natural abilities (called Arts) of that insect. This works well with a nice selection of insect-kin being presented (and not all of them know about).

The main plot follows Stenwold Maker and his attempts to prevent his home land falling to the Wasp Empire. In general there is both high action and cunning intrigue going on together. With a nice cast of characters who seem in the main rounded and with their own plot and background.

Another feature which I liked was that we saw things from both sides, with the author not showing a distinct favouritism to one side or the other in the narrative (though many characters do so), and thus there is no clear good and evil here, only the main shades of grey which are found when dealing with ethical questions.

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