Poisoned Empire by Elyse Thomson (Reviewed by Lena)

 Book Review: Poisoned Empire by Elyse Thomson

Buy Poisoned Empire here

Official Author Website

OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Elyse Thomson writes steamy fantasy full of court intrigue, daring heroines, magical mayhem, swoon-worthy romances and worlds inspired by ancient history.

Elyse graduated from University of Toronto with a Bachelors in History and Classics and currently resides in Canada’s capital where you can find her binding antiquarian books, playing Dragon Age or snuggling with her husband or her neurotic terrier.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Black-marketeer Selene has poison magic and the cynicism to match. When she and genius metals mage Iliana are arrested by the same scheming, noble fathers who tossed them out at birth, they suspect apologies won’t be forthcoming. Forced to either impersonate their half-sisters or die, the friends are stuffed into fancy dresses, packed off to the capital, and thrust into the perilous, glittering world of the imperial court.

Traitors lurk in Prince Belisarius’ court, and only his loyal strategos Marduk is above suspicion. As noble-born villains siphon away the souls of their daughters to magnify their magic in secret, Belisarius plots to expose them all—by inviting every noblewoman in the empire to compete for his hand in marriage. But two infuriating imposters in attendance quickly become his bane.

When the friends are discovered, they expect imprisonment—not a deal. Vast riches are on offer if Selene poses as fiancée to the handsome prince while Iliana simpers for the towering strategos—a ploy to lure traitorous enemies to the capital. Yet even as they help secure the throne, false affections flirt with real passions, and Selene and Iliana are convinced they’ll either lose their hearts… or their heads.

FORMAT/INFO: Poisoned Empire is the first book in the Mages of Oblivion series. It has 424 pages and will be self-published on July 12, 2023.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Poisoned Empire starts with a wonderful action-packed prologue. I’m not going to recount it because you need to read it, for it is absolutely fantastic.

After that we encounter Selene and then Iliana. The friends have been living together hiding from Iliana’s powerful father, who tried to murder her more than once.
This society values magic as it was money, determining people societal status. But not all magic is valued equally. Elemental magic is the desired magic for any authority figure, like the King and their children, or the Magisters and their children.
Selene is no elemental mage, but a poison one, and Iliana is a metal mage. They are children of two of the most powerful Magisters, Amethyst and Sapphire respectively.
We also have the perspective of Belisarius, the crown prince. And that’s how we find out that he’s pretty much facing a silent coup. But as he hasn’t been able to figure out who organized it or how to dismantle it, he decides to have a every Magister send their unmarried daughters for him to choose a bride, and find out what they’re planning and, if they’re indeed using forbidden magic.

This was one of the most fun I’ve had with a book in a long time.

The characters are well done. Selene is fantastic. She has such an easy way to her character and her interactions with Iliana are so cute and sweet. You can tell both of them love each other fiercely. Their friendship is one of the most heartwarming ones I’ve had the pleasure of reading.
In the beginning, Belisarius is hard to relate to, as he’s very cold, but after a while you understand why. My favorite secondary character, Marduk is such a great example of serenity and concentration in battle, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s a gentleman.
I really enjoyed the romance and steam. It provided a much needed rest from the breakneck pace of some parts. The plot is complex, even though the twist was predictable, it did not tamper with my enjoyment.
The characters make many scenes so funny even in the circumstances not in their favor.
I feel that we could only see such an small portion of the world in this book, that I just want more. More of the world, more of these characters, and more of the magic system.

CONCLUSION: Poisoned Empire is a fantastic first book in the Mages of Oblivion series. It has an amazing magic system, high stakes, fun characters and a great plot twist. I highly recommend it and cannot wait to see how the story continues.

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