Review: Hollow Empire (The Poison Wars #2) by Sam Hawke

Rating: 7.0/10


Moving from poison and treachery to war and witchcraft, Sam Hawke’s Poison Wars continue with Hollow Empire, a fabulous epic fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Robin Hobb, Naomi Novik, and Scott Lynch.

Poison was only the beginning…. The deadly siege of Silasta woke the ancient spirits, and now the city-state must find its place in this new world of magic. But people and politics are always treacherous, and it will take all of Jovan and Kalina’s skills as proofer and spy to save their country when witches and assassins turn their sights to domination.


Hollow Empire is the continuation of the Poison War novels by Sam Hawke. City of Lies, the first book in the duology, was an enjoyable and fun mystery that built to an epic conclusion. Hollow Empire remains a good read, but was lacking in a certain spark for me.

The story picks up around two years after the conclusion of City of Lies, and sees Jovan now training his niece in the proofing ways. Kalina has a more elevated role in the government serving as an ambassador to many of the traveling delegates that come through the city of Silasta.

The book starts off much slower than its predecessor but picks up around the 100 page mark as the thrust of the story takes off. While there still is a mystery, its not an engaging murder mystery/whodunnit like the first. Much more political intrigue and remnants of magic that draw you into the story. And that was probably my favorite thing about the book – the politics. I really enjoyed seeing the different cultures and people interact in a multicultural city such as Silasta. Made for an enjoyable read where you were never quite sure of different motives of the characters.

I also really enjoyed the characters. Kalina had the most growth and change in this book and I really felt for her. Both her and Jovan had more a distinct voice this time around, so it was easier to distinguish them than it was in the first novel.

The action is also a step up in this book, and the magic especially is a step up – there’s one action scene toward the middle of the novel that had me sitting on edge as it took place. Very well done.

I do have some issues with the book, however. The build and reveal were a bit of a let down for me as they didn’t seem to connect as well. I felt the first book was very well set up in a variety of ways, but this one didn’t hit all those high marks for me. The finale was a bit of a disappointment to me as I didn’t really connect with the villain or twists like I did in the first book.

It has taken me quite a long time to write this review (it’s been almost a month since I finished the book). I think mostly because I wasn’t as happy with Hollow Empire as I wanted to be. I still recommend it, and I know that a lot of people liked it even more than the original, it just didn’t quite live up to the hype for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s