Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Guest Book Review: Empress of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Title: Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhoda Belleza
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 314
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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 a good beginning to a series that brings up important questions of surveillance and memory all framed by a storyline of intrigue and assassinations. What it lacks in atmospheric descriptions it makes up for in a compelling main character. While I had a few small complaints, overall I am looking forward to the sequel.
“The bully, the madman, and the empress” (115)

Empress of a Thousand Skies begins with an assassination attempt on Princess Rhiannon’s life that sets cards in motion and reveals a greater corruption. Her accused assassin, Alyosha, an outsider his whole life, becomes an instant fugitive and must run for his life, encountering an underground resistance he never knew existed, and a plot that has disastrous consequences for the whole galaxy.

In terms of characters, my favorites were Alyosha and Kara. Aly’s character is complex, prejudiced against, and incredibly clever. There are so many challenges he must undergo and the side characters we meet in his life, Vincent and Kara are so fascinating to me. However, I did not really enjoy Rhee’s perspective. She is particularly short sighted, in terms of her revenge, and I think she was incredibly impulsive. In addition, I did not really empathize with her the whole book, and I greatly preferred Aly.

I could get into their heads, but it was hard for me to close my eyes and picture it. Then again, if you’re one of those people who wants more freedom in your imaginings, then this would be good for you.
“Don’t confuse retaliation with fairness” (200)

Actually my favorite part of the story was the idea of the memory storage. This piece of technology is designed to record all of our memories and we can play them back or relive them. My initial question was: how do we value our memories and experiences when we can never forget. It was great that even with a ‘perfect memory’ our experiences and memories are still fallible. Good old fashioned miscommunications are still around and we must still rely on our judgement.

Even in terms of plot I enjoyed Aly and Kara’s plot more than Rhee’s. To me, her plot just seemed typical and without a lot of complexity. The main story continuously twists and changes, surprising us and adding more complexity. However, from the inside cover we expect Aly and Rhee’s paths to cross and that is a misconception. Slowly the puzzle pieces are revealed and begin connecting. Threads that seemed light years away weaving together before your eyes until you’re caught up and cannot stop.
“Every death by your hand is different than the one that came before. You’ll be changed” (120)

This book is about the choices and sacrifices we make. Trust is dangerous and even in this advanced world we still underestimate ambition and what we truly would sacrifice for our family.


Utopia State of Mind was born out of my passion for books and critical discussions. As a former literature student, for my Bachelors and Masters, USOM has given me the perfect outlet to discuss books and share my opinions with fellow book worms. I began blogging about books only once a week, but is has grown quickly to over three times per week. I celebrated my first blog birthday yesterday. Being a book blogger has been a dream come true.  My favorite genres are science fiction, what I wrote both my theses on, and fantasy. If you love those genres, historical fiction, or diverse reads please visit my blog. I would love to say hello and talk with you about books. You can also find me on facebook, twitter, and instagram. Looking forward to seeing you!