Empress of a Thousand Skies

Empress of a Thousand Skies


Title: Empress of a Thousand Skies

Author: Rhoda Belleza

Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies, #1

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 7th 2017

Rating:

Three Stars

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

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.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“Was there really so much hatred in the universe, so much prejudice, even among people who claimed to be unbiased? Had this always been true?”

Crown Princess Rhiannon is only days away from her coronation. Soon she will be the ruler of the galaxy and she will finally be able to avenge the death of her family, a tragedy that left her the last surviving Ta’an. However the person responsible for the death of Rhee’s family isn’t content with letting her live long enough to take her rightful place as Empress. Attacked by one of the people closest to her, someone she loved and believed she could trust, Rhee realises her life is still in grave danger, and to survive long enough to get her revenge she needs to put her faith in the hands of the Fontisian who saved her.

With the Crown Princess believed to be dead the blame for Rhee’s assassination falls on the shoulders of Alyosha, a Wraetan and a scapegoat designed to bring war back to the galaxy after nearly a decade of tentative peace. Aly is forced on the run when ‘proof’ turns up of his involvement in Rhee’s death, he flees across the galaxy but with the whole galaxy looking for him there’s no where he can go that will be safe.

“People always measured war in terms of the numbers dead. Maybe they should measure it in terms of the people left behind.”

As Rhee and Dahlen chase after the man responsible for Rhee’s family’s deaths, revenge at the forefront of the Crown Princesses mind above her own safety, Aly finds himself running towards a goal instead of running away. He wants to prove his own innocence and believes he has the key to clearing his name.

However the further Rhee and Aly travel, the more they discover about and the war that is edging ever closer, and the more they realise Rhee’s death and Aly’s role in it are only part of the story. There is a much more sinister plan in action which could put everyone’s lives at risk.

Despite only giving this book three stars the low rating isn’t because of the plot. The story was fast paced, engaging, and kept me hooked as I waited to find out what would happen to Rhee and Aly. In terms of the story this is one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read, and not a page went by without some kind of threat Rhee or Aly need to overcome. The downside for me was the character development.

…The Characters

“The throne had been in her family for twelve generations, and you could trace the Ta’an back nearly three centuries. They were among the first settlers in the east. The dark soil of Kalu was part of Rhee’s skin, the ocean in her veins, the roots of the trees her own.”

Rhiannon has been trained ever since her family were killed to one day take the throne. She knows how to fight and defend herself, and knows how to rule. However despite all this she seemed more like a child than a one-day Empress. She is stubborn to the point of risking her own life to get her own way, and she acts as if she knows everything.

Rhee formed an opinion when she was a young child of what happened to her family the day they died, and with no further evidence or proof believed wholly in that opinion ignoring the possibility that there could be anything bigger at play. That seems to be the way she lives her whole life. She sticks to the opinions once she forms them, and most of them seem to be without any proof or rationalisation behind them.

“He flipped the switch and an invisible armour went up over his dark skin. ‘Leave me alone. I’m innocent,’ he repeated to himself. ‘I did nothing wrong.’
But the switch was choirtoing broken.”

Alyosha was a character whose POV I enjoyed reading a little more. As a Wraetan he is scorned by most of the galaxy, judged based on his race and the colour of his skin, and he does everything she can to be the perfect soldier. As one of the stars of The Revolutionary Boys Aly believes he can use his fame to prove to the galaxy there is more to the Wraetan’s than the stereotypes they have formed.

When he is framed for murder Aly’s only thought is for his survival, his whole world is turned upside down and while he made some choices I couldn’t wrap my head around, for the most part I enjoyed reading his POV a lot more than Rhee’s.

“If all we are is what people think we are, then we’re all screwed.”

The only issue I had with Aly were the relationships he formed. Throughout the book we see Aly with two of his closest friends, brothers in all but blood we’re told, and with a girl he meets while fleeing across the galaxy. Despite being told how close Aly was with both Vincent and Jeth I didn’t see any evidence of that in his actions, in fact it seemed like he had more feelings for a girl he just met than he did two people he essentially grew up with.

…The Setting

“Honour, bravery, loyalty—these made up her ma’tansarili, the three values.
It was an everyday Kalusian greeting, but it meant much more than hello or goodbye. It translated to ‘highest self,’ and to say it was a pledge to be the best person you could be.”

Again the world building was another thing Rhoda Belleza did really well in Empress of a Thousand Skies. There were a lot of planets to explore, all with their own unique people and cultures. From Aly’s race, the Wraetan’s, who became refugees after their home was destroyed in the war and who seem to be scorned by the rest of the galaxy, to the Fontisian’s and their religion which worships one God the way Rhee worships her ancestors, and to Rhee’s family, the Ta’an, who’s cursed history stretches back generations full of blood and violence. There were no info dumps of text explaining everything, the world building was naturally written into the story giving us just enough information to help us understand the characters and their different motives but not enough to overwhelm.


When it comes to the plot and the world building in this book, Empress of a Thousand Skies could have easily been a five star read for me. Both aspects were well-developed and well-paced, drawing me into the world and the adventure. The characters are what let this book down, I just couldn’t look past the amount of times I found myself asking, ‘what the hell is going on?’ as their actions played out.

What did you think of Empress of a Thousand Skies? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

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36 thoughts on “Empress of a Thousand Skies

  1. Great review!! I actually really loved it, I gave it a 5 star review on my blog! I thought of it a bit like Star Wars. The characters weren’t insanely well developed, but the world and comments on the issues (such as how much technology is too much) more than made up for it in my opinion! The intergalactic politics were insanely interesting!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Amber, and I’m glad to hear this was a book you really loved. The plot and world-building in this book was amazing, the intergalactic politics and the issues the characters faced were wonderfully written, I just felt it was let down by the character development a little too much. Ohh, I never made the Star Wars connection but now you’ve said it I definitely see what you mean! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh YAY I’m glad you liked the reference!! I think I might have been more entertained too because I was definitely playing Star Wars music in my head while reading it, LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it was a real shame, but it may not bother you as much as it did me if it’s a book you’ve been highly anticipating. The plot and setting were amazing so that may be enough for you to overlook the characters a little.
      That’s all right, I do hope you enjoy this book a little more when you pick it up Megan! 🙂

      Like

  2. Fascinating how much impact characters can have, even if we have the most amazing story and world-building! Great review! 😀

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Aww, sorry this one ended up being a let down in the character department. It always sucks when a book has this incredible plot and world building but then the characters just don’t work out as you’d hoped. Which, this one sounds like it has such a complex world with all of the different cultures and religion – something I adore seeing in books like this. Although, I don’t think I could get past the main character, Rhiannon. I love reckless and stubborn characters but she sounds over the top. Especially with the whole forming an opinion and sticking with it despite not having any proof to back it up. And then that sucks about Aly’s character and not feeling the relationships he had with other characters outside of the girl he had just met. Reminds of the whole romance overshadowing character development thing I really don’t like lol. Not sure if I’ll be picking this one up but I do hope the second book is better for you in terms of characters. Great review as always, Beth! 😁♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah this one ended up being a real shame. It sounded amazing and the plot was really good, same with the world-building. It just goes to show how important the character development really is because this could have been a five star read for me if I’d connect with the characters more.
      The world-building was honestly incredible, I have no issues with it whatsoever. Yeah Rhiannon was too reckless and too stubborn, and despite being told how smart and capable she is I didn’t really see any evidence of that in this book. She supposed to become the empress of the galaxy pretty much but she couldn’t rule a high school football team without it falling apart.
      That was definitely the case with Aly’s character, which is a shame because for the most part I was enjoying reading his POV chapters. Until the romantic angle came in full force and pretty much decimated his development. :/
      Well if you do pick this one up you may enjoy it, and yeah same here.
      Thanks Melissa! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely. I feel like a book can have the most complex and beautiful world building that completely blows me away but if it just isn’t there for the characters then that is a huge hit to the book. And it sucks that that was the case for this one. I think I’m all about balance – I need my books to have both without it tipping over to one side.
        So, it was more like a telling instead of showing where Rhiannon’s character was concerned? And wow she doesn’t sound like she would be a good empress of the galaxy. Maybe her character will have a lot of development in the second book though? You can only hope! 😊
        Romance ruining character development is such a big no no for me. I think we’ve talked about it before but I love seeing characters develop before any romance is introduced. It works so much better that way!
        You’re welcome, Beth!! 😊♥

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My hopes were definitely higher for this book, and I hoped it would be a case where as the story went on I started to connect with Rhee’s character more, but if anything it was the opposite. The longer the story went on the less I connected with Aly’s character. Balance is definitely a good thing in book, I guess in this one the balance was more skewed to the plot and world building side of things than the characters.
        Yeah that was pretty much it. At one point I actually thought one of the bad guys at the beginning was a better leader, because at least we saw evidence of him being a capable leader! Well, here’s hoping.
        We probably have talked about it and yeah it’s a big no-no for me as well. Characters need to be able to stand on their own or they’ll never be able to stand as part of a pairing.

        Like

  4. Aw, it’s such a shame the characters were a let-down! From the world-building and plot, it really seemed like this was something special ahah. Rhiannon seems like quite the annoying protagonist though? Making reckless decisions without any logic behind them seem to be a common theme in many characters in YA?? Quite frustrating for the reader haha. I think I’ll still end up picking this up, but with lowered expectations? Maybe that’ll prepare me better haha. Lovely review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, but it just goes to show how important character development really is in books. Everything else about this one was well written, the world building completely in a league of its own, but the characters were a huge let-down.
      I couldn’t get behind any of the decisions Rhee made, and to be honest eventually I started dreading her chapters a little.
      Hopefully going in with lowered expectations will help with this book, and you never know you may end up really loving it! 😀
      Thanks Analee! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Too bad that you didn’t enjoy this book as much as you hoped you would. :/ I hate it when a plot is let down by the characters within the story. It’s simply frustrating! I adore good world building (as you may know), but if the characters aren’t very well written it just doesn’t feel like a complete story to me.
    Great review, Beth! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it was a shame; especially considering the plot was really interesting, and the world-building absolutely amazing as well.
      If you like world-building then I’d want to say I recommend this book, but I think characters are just as important and this book didn’t have good character development in my opinion. Do you think you’ll pick it up one day Anna?
      Thanks so much as well! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh no, I hate it when a plot is let down by the characters! It is so frustrating. Sometimes with sci-fi, I feel the has to choose between building a wonderful setting and a strong plot and creating multi-dimensional and convincing characters. Only a story needs all of those to work! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it was a shame because this could have been an amazing story but the characters were just not engaging to read about at all! This has actually been the first sci-fi book I’ve read that’s disappointed me, but I agree a book needs all those things to work and this one just didn’t in my opinion. 🙂
      Thanks Donna! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely review, Beth! I’m sorry to hear you couldn’t fall in love with that one due to the characters, it sounds like the world building is really, really good though! Will you be continuing on with this series – since I guess there are more books to come ? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie, and yeah this book was a bit of a let down actually, but it was only because of the characters so I suppose that’s something right? The story and world-building was quite good.
      Yeah I likely will, I normally try and carry on with series and this one wasn’t bad enough to break me of that habit! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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