Book Review: The Throne of the Five Winds by S. C. Emmett

Title: The Throne of the Five Winds

Author: S. C. Emmett

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date:  October 15, 2019

Genres: Epic Fantasy

Shelves: Female-fronted

The Throne of the Five Winds is a big book. A big, thick, dense book that's overflowing with key characters, scattered locations, and tangled relationships. It's neither an easy read to get into nor a quick one. As beautifully written as it is, and as strong as the characters are, it still took me a couple of hundred pages to become comfortable with the story - but it all pays off eloquently in the final pages.

The politics and family drama here rival anything to be found in epic fantasy and it all begins with an Emperor whose disregard for the women in his life starts a tumbling of political dominoes. Queens and princes, wives and brothers, they're all plotting and scheming, playing off one another with silvered tongues and poisoned kisses - not to mention assassination attempts and actual poisonings. You need a scorecard to keep track, but as you get deeper into the story and more familiar with the characters, the entertainment value of those conflicts increases significantly.

Mahara and Yala are the heart of the story, and that relationship between hostage princess and loyal lady-in-waiting is the best-developed one in the novel. They are genuine, with an emotional back-story, and it's easy to believe in the loyalty they feel for one another. Standing in contrast to the two is Queen Gamwone, a cruel, foul, deplorable woman who is something of a guilty pleasure every time she appears on the page. Her cruelty to her children doesn't just illuminate their characters, it defines them, creating sympathy and empathy that cracks open the density of the narrative.

Politically and geographically, S. C. Emmett has crafted an Asia-inspired fantasy and the world-building behind it stands up to the political maneuvering in front of it. Customs, morals, and languages are so well-defined that innocuous terms and comments for one character are amusing or offensive for others, and mistakes in translation are realistically common.

If I were to have any complaints, it would be that The Throne of the Five Winds is far more heavily character/relationship focused, and a sometimes light on the complexities of plot. I would have preferred that it start before the end of hostilities, partly to inject some action into the plot, and partly to give the political sacrifices more significance.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ 1/2


  1. I'm debating whether to tackle this or not. I have so many books I want to read in the next few months, this just might have to wait a bit.

  2. It is a bit of a slog at the beginning - a lot of names and characters and families and allegiances and plots to figure out. It's well-written, and the characters were memorable, but it's certainly not an easy/quick read.

  3. Fantastic review! I think I will give this one a go - and I'm actually quite excited to hear that it is heavily character/relationship focused. I love that in my books! :D


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