They call him the Usurper.
A man of common blood sits on the throne. At his command the last emperor was executed, but vengeance is coming.
Endymion is an Empath. He was born with the ability to feel another’s emotions and reach inside their hearts for their deepest secrets. Often despised, he lives a nomadic existence, but when he finds himself imprisoned for sorcery and facing death, his past will condemn him. Born Prince Takehiko Otako, the only surviving son of the True Emperor, Endymion is caught in the brewing storm. But as his skill grows beyond his control, has the truth come too late?
The fight for the Crimson Throne has begun.
“There is nothing more disgraceful than a vain man.”
I had pretty high expectations going into this book. I read the prequel novella, In Shadows We Fall (Review here) and really enjoyed it. I have also heard basically nothing but good things about the sequel trilogy in this world that starts with We Ride The Storm (The Reborn Empire series). I decided to read the books in this world in chronological order and I’m so glad that I did. The prequel sets this trilogy opener up perfectly.
The Blood of Whisperers is an Asian inspired fantasy that starts 13 years after the events of In Shadows We Fall. Madson does not take much time to get the ball rolling. Within the first 50% of this book there is murder, imprisonment, political intrigue, and mysteries. One of my favorite parts about it was that everything felt so evenly paced. The chapters were relatively short (average 10-15 pages or so) and I never felt like I wanted to skip past a section or one of the 3 POVs to get back to a favorite one. There was always something going on in each POV that made me feel engaged and invested in each character and their story.
As I said above, each character has something going for them that makes their POV interesting. Endymion has the mystery of his birth, his longing for acceptance and family, and being swept up by the powerful people and events surrounding him. Hana is caught up in her desire for vengeance and reclaiming her throne. Darius is an amalgamation of conflicting loyalties between the two people he has sworn to protect at all costs; torn between the emperor he loves and respects and the ward he has raised since she was a toddler. Darius’ POV is intensely emotional with his fascinating inner monologue that shows a mind haunted by the sins of his past and fear for the future of his loved ones.
I wouldn’t say there was a lot of action in this book. However, there were several quick bursts of brutal action that leant credibility to the high stakes of this story and the lengths that each character is willing to go to obtain what they want. There was also a really cool soft magic system in this one that was integral to the fight scenes and a big part of the reason why most of the fights were quite short.
The closest we get to a villain in The Blood of Whisperers is Malice. I really did not like him. Malice manipulates the major players in this story both from the shadows and directly through the lense of each character’s POV. We have no idea what his motivation actually is, but I can surmise from what I’ve read so far that his intentions are not anywhere close to good. I always rate a villain based on how much the author makes me dislike them and Madson did a really good job of making me feel distaste and even loathing for this character.
This book is exactly what I needed right now and I have already started book 2, The Gods of Vice. It has it all including intrigue, plots, murder, compelling characters, magic, a smaller world that is still utterly immersive, and a pace that will keep you turning the pages long into the night. This book has become my favorite read of 2021 so far. A brilliant opening entry and an impressive debut, you don’t want to miss this one.