Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke

City of Lies was one of my favorite books of 2018. Here’s a small snippet from that review:

“Honor-down! City of Lies is a book filled with intrigue and violent passion, young idealism and old-world fanaticism, but most of all a loyalty among friends that will keep readers eagerly coming back for more of this series.”

You can only imagine my expectations when I received Hollow Empire… just know that they were met and exceeded. All that young idealism has had another two years to get used to the ruling the many factions vying for power in Silasta. And like City of Lies, the plot in this sequel relies on the identification of poisons by our expert, Jovan, but he’s now taken his niece Dija, as an apprentice. They work to keep the stability of the nation intact.

Beginning during the city-wide festival of Karodee, Hawke brings all the dark magic, politics, and danger directly to the heart of the city. In his position as chancellor, Tain will continue to be the public face of governance, but Jovan, Dija, and Kalina are tasked with searching the crowds for shifting eyes for the many enemies of the state.

Kidnapping, backstabbing, and of course, poisoning. And as much as I love the writing connected to the intrigue, it is the personal lives of these characters that keep me reading this series. Hawke’s attention to detail… it’s not just the physical fights that Jovan and Tain and Kalina are fighting, but that mental stress and anxiety that this strife brings. She has produced several of the most realistic characters in contemporary fantasy lit.

Please get started on The Poison War series, pronto! An opening salvo of City of Lies introduced me to this wonderful author, and Hollow Empire confirms that talent.

5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Tor Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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