Book Review – Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio – Spoiler free

I am going to be honest with you.

Sci-fi isn’t usually my ‘thing’ when it comes to novels. Don’t know why. I love Star Wars and Star Trek… but somehow my love for sci-fi on the golden and silver screens never found an anchor in literature.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read a few books in the genre. Dune and 2001: A Space Odyssey, to name the most famous ones.

I liked them.

But… they never quite captured my heart in the same way that fantasy had. And so as I got older, I tended to stay away from sci-fi in favour of fantasy and historical fiction.

But of course, I was still always on the look out for a new series that would change that. The door had yet not closed, and so I was interested when I saw a lot of chatter about the Suneater series. Many of my favourite booktubers have read and reviewed Empire of Silence and its sequels, and it has made quite the noise on various discord groups I’m in.

When Head of Zeus bought the U.K. publishing rights for the 4th Suneater book, Kingdoms of Death, I became even more interested – as Head of Zeus publishes my work too.

And so, I picked up my kindle and bought Empire of Silence, hoping for the best, but still half expecting that it might not be for me.

What I found was a masterpiece.

To give you a brief blurb – It set far in the future and chronicles the life of Hadrian Marlowe. We know from the outset that he has wiped out an alien race called the Ceilcin. To some, this makes him a hero, but in order to defeat this enemy, he destroyed a sun and wiped out four billion human lives. To others, therefore, he is a monster. We know all this from the first pages – and we know this is Hadrian’s attempt at telling his story. An old man remembering his youth. The truth.

It is bold and ambitious and the story is woven effortlessly. Hadrian is a compelling protagonist, with the older narrator able to call out the faults of his youth.

Echoes of Paul Atreides exist (though not for long), but so does that of Uhtred of Bebbenburg, possibly a dash of The Name of the Rose and Gladiator. It’s certainly it’s own thing too – the writing ensures that. It’s very clever. It draws on Greek philosophy and classical literature and thus grounded me in the futuristic setting – which is all believable without delving into any hard scientific explanations. Christopher Ruocchio is an excellent writer. One character, who only appears in a handful of chapters had me in tears. This is a rarity these days.

And so here we are. I’m converted. I’ve found my great sci-fi series that I can’t wait to read. And I want to spread the word to those not usually taken with sci-fi. Empire of Silence is excellent. It is an opera. This is a future imagining worthy of a Shakespearean stage. Perhaps one day, it will even make it to the golden or silver screen.

Thanks for reading this review – if you like it, please consider subscribing to my blog. I write book reviews, chat about Irish history and mythology – and also my own book, The Children of Gods and Fighting Men, which is out in September 2022.

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