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Empire of Silence - Sun Eater series by Christopher Ruocchio

Discussion in 'Books and Anime Discussion' started by Otters, May 12, 2019.

  1. Otters

    Otters Groundskeeper ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    "Hadrian Marlowe, a man revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, chronicles his tale in the galaxy-spanning debut of the Sun Eater series, merging the best of space opera and epic fantasy.

    It was not his war.

    The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders.

    But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier.

    On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire."

    [​IMG]

    This is at the top of my unexpected gems list. There's a special feeling when you pick up a book at random and find something truly exceptional, hitting all the notes you'd hoped for and more. Empire of Silence reads like a mashup of Name of the Wind and Dune, with just a hint of Book of the New Sun underlining the more philosophical strokes. A good space opera mixes my two favourite genres of sci-fi and fantasy in a way that's hard to beat.

    Set in a techphobic instellar empire of mankind, the book opens with our protagonist Hadrian Marlowe as the eldest son of a local lord, ruling over a feudal demesne the size of a planet, wealthier than most due to the export from rich uranium mines. Unlike his Tywin Lannister-esque father, Hadrian strays from the cut-throat game of politics and seeks a more scholarly life, driven by a love of languages and a fascination with the cannibalistic alien Cielcin with whom the empire has warred for centuries.

    The balance between high tech and low tech is struck very well here, to my mind. It's justified as a hypocritical tool by which the empire retains power, with odd bits and pieces of distant technology thrown in - the kinds of things which embody Arthur C. Clarke's first law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Rather than saturating the landscape with scifi gizmos, the pieces of technology permitted by the theological tyranny of the Chantry and its torturous Inquisition are scarce but significant to the imperialistic structure of the universe, such as the use of FTL travel between planets in cryosleep - something which takes a matter of years or decades to perform, and as such is not done lightly.

    The only major concern I see people might have with this is that it's a little derivative. But all stories are based on the ones which come before, and it's done tastefully here. I wouldn't allege that the author has crudely copied his predecessors so much as made deft use of the set-pieces which they brought into the genre.

    Book two is scheduled for release on July 18th, so there's not much of a wait left.
     
  2. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Headmaster

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    I'm gonna try this one out. Never heard of this series before but as of now it's in my Kindle Library.
     
  3. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

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    Added to my reading list. You had me at mixing sci-fi and fantasy with high tech and low tech both.
     
  4. Otters

    Otters Groundskeeper ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Finished book two, and goddamn do I love this series. I've seen people complain online that it's very derivative of its influences, and yeah, that's very blatant even in book two, but I don't mind. It's as if Name of the Wind and Dune got smashed into one another in a particle accelerator. This is like a 6/5 Name of the Wind AU scifi fanfic masquerading as original fiction.

    I'm craving somebody to discuss it with, so I'm hoping someone around here will pick it up sooner or later.
     
  5. DR

    DR Secret Squirrel –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

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    Bought it, thanks for the rec. I'll be back when I've read it.
     
  6. Otters

    Otters Groundskeeper ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Yo which one of you cheesebreaths rated this 1 star but was too cowardly to post their opinion? Lmao
     
  7. Zombie

    Zombie Black Philip Moderator DLP Supporter

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    This was a great two books and I eagerly wait for the third. I didn't think I'd like it. There is a lot of House Politics shit that I typically wouldn't like, there's a clear definition of caste and the person's place in the caste and there is a lot of underlying tension due to characters acting outside of it-- the world is evocative and multi-dimensional with various facets in which to observe through the MC's eyes.

    The confrontation between two species, human and alien is so much better compared to what I've read in the past. The alien species isn't just an invading force set to end all humans. Humanity as ascended and then fallen back to a sedate pace -- measured in trillions of lives and across all arms of the known galaxy. The aliens feel alien. They're not mindless wrecking balls, they have their own culture, their own language and their own understanding of how the universe works.

    The sci-fi in this world is a mixture of space opera and just plain science is magic fantasy. Many that read it say that its similar to Dune. I think that Dune is shittier by comparison (the follow up stories, not the original).

    TL:DR: Its really good.
     
  8. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Headmaster

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    Just finished reading the first book. 10/10 would recommend to anyone. People who like sci-fi and politics ought to feel right at home here. This is a mix of Dune and Name of the Wind, as others have pointed out. While it does have its own cliches, it feels fresher than most other books in its genre. I got completely hooked reading this and finished it in one sitting.
     
  9. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Headmaster

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    Finished the second book too. The first bit drags, but then it becomes very interesting. I read this and the latest DF one after another and the contrast could not be more stark. Howling Dark is a much much better written book than Peace Talks despite Peace Talks being in the works for 6 years.

    Again, there are cliches in this book, but I don't think the author has given in to them. One has to struggle through the first 20% of the book (based on what my Kindle tells me) but it's totally worth it. The rest of the book is riveting. An easy 9/10.
     
  10. Otters

    Otters Groundskeeper ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Howling Dark had its downs, but my god

    that scene where he gets his arm severed then killed, and respawns in a pool nearby with the cut arms switched to show what happened

    Is one of my favourite sci-fi/ fantasy transition scenes ever
     
  11. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Headmaster

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    Oh agreed. Everything from the moment they

    break off to go to Vorgossos

    was fantastic. The scenes inside there were utterly fantastical.
     
  12. Jack-O

    Jack-O Second Year

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    So I finished the first book yesterday and I absolutely loved it. I've spent almost all my free time in the past few days unable to stop reading.

    The thing that I like most about it is the aliens - they occupy that space between completely inhuman monsters and humans but with a different paint job that so many sci-fi settings never get right.

    Definitely recommended for any sci-fi/fantasy fan.
     
  13. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros. Moderator

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    Just finished binging Empire of Silence, Howling Dark, and Demon in White.

    I'm really torn about this.

    The series starts off slow, I have to say, and it has a lot of fat. I will admit to having skipped segments that felt pointless to me, and it not having mattered much.

    But when the story gets going, man it gets going.

    It has a very Dune-esque feel to it with the increasing ramp up of messianic undertones. I like how the Cielcin were handled overall, being not just humans but reskinned but actually feeling alien and fleshed out.

    On the other hand, while some action scenes were epic, others fell flat to me, lacking tension when these were supposed to be the height of the story (like the latter quarter of Demon in White, when the battle starts... meh?). Ultimately, I do think the problem is that the author doesn't know when to cut fat, when to shorten the writing, and how to pace his story, and for that I cannot give it a 5/5. There's also a serious lack of nuance when it comes to handling religion (which is more a criticism I levy towards sci-fi in general, and not just this story).

    Still, that doesn't mean I think the story is terrible by any means, and is in fact quite good.

    Overall, I would recommend it - 4/5.
     
  14. Zerg_Lurker

    Zerg_Lurker Headmaster DLP Supporter

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    Been on my list forever and finally pulled the trigger on book one.

    The first couple of acts took a while to get my attention. There's a fair bit of requisite world building that gets in the way of characterization.

    Definitely felt the story beats from NotW and more generally the hero's journey structure with losing the old mentor to leaving home.
    One thing I really disliked about both stories was the orphaned street urchin arc. It wasn't quite as heavy handed or drawn out as in NotW but at the same time, it wasn't as impactful because the emotional attachments to Hadrian's family weren't as meaningful as Kvothe's to his troupe.

    In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize how many things Empire of Silence borrowed or referenced. Simeon the Red had strains of Taborlin the Great, as did the gilded cage of Emesh and its lord had strains of the Maer Alveron from The Wise Man's Fear. Hell, the scene of window shopping for spacecraft with Switch felt straight out of an episode of Firefly.

    In some instances I'd say Ruocchio writes paler imitations of his forebears, but they suit the universe he's created, lit with a harsher, colder light. One point in his favor is that Hadrian doesn't get nearly as far up his own ass waxing poetic as Kvothe does. At the same time, Rothfuss's melancholic interludes fell more intense and engaging than Ruocchio's throwaway lines amounting to, "Oh yeah by the way I lost my love to mega-plague and did a genocide or two, whoopsie daisy!"

    I like the setup for book 2, fake pirates but in space has my expectations in line with Red Seas Under Red Skies.

    I love a good ancient aliens/precursor mystery, and I had a lot of fun picking through the historical and cultural references distorted through the lens of tens of thousands of years like literary candy.
    And as much as I dread seeing Hadrian's morality and idealism being tested, I'm interested enough to keep going with the series. As much as I criticize and compare it to other books I love more, Empire of Silence has enough going for it to stand as a good story in its own right.

    4/5, solid recommend.
     
  15. Otters

    Otters Groundskeeper ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Yeah, the street urchin arc felt like a senseless lift-and-shift from NotW. That entire plot should have been cut, and had Hadrian, bereft of options, walk up to the colosseum just as he did at the end of it.
     
  16. Otters

    Otters Groundskeeper ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Book 4 Kingdoms of Death is out in 4 days.

    My joy is palpable and my nuts are swollen.
     
  17. Galen

    Galen Fifth Year

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    My joy is swollen and my nuts are palpable.

    I guess it’s time for a reread.
     
  18. Jaska

    Jaska Third Year

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    Read the first book till the end a while ago, so do not remember that much, though I still remember some bits. Not that good in my opinion, even though Gene Wolfe is my favorite author and I like Dune. Empire of Silence takes heavy inspiration from both and straight up copies a passage from Book of the New Sun. The ending of the book as an example. Don't remember if there were other examples as obvious.

    Here I pause, having carried you, reader, from gate to gate—from the locked and fog-shrouded gate of our necropolis to this gate with its curling wisps of smoke, this gate which is perhaps the largest in existence, perhaps the largest ever to exist. It was by entering that first gate that I set my feet upon the road that brought me to this second gate. And surely when I entered this second gate, I began again to walk a new road. From that great gate forward, for a long time, it was to lie outside the City Imperishable and among the forests and grasslands, mountains and jungles of the north.

    Here I pause. If you wish to walk no farther with me, reader, I cannot blame you. It is no easy road.

    There are endings, Reader, and this is one. Some part of me will forever lie on Emesh, in the canals and the coliseum, in the castle and the bastille of Borosevo. It lies with Cat at the bottom of a waterway and on the killing floor of the Colosso. It lies with Gilliam and Uvanari, dead at my hands; and with Anaïs, whom I never saw again. If what I have done disturbs you, Reader, I do not blame you. If you would read no further, I understand. You have the luxury of foresight. You know where this ends.

    I shall go on alone.

    Obviously this book does it a bit clumsier, as it does all aspects. It was a struggle to get through the book and it's frankly not as good. For a rating I'd give it 2/5. If it were fanfiction, the rating would obviously be higher, but different standards do apply.
     
  19. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Headmaster

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    Pre-ordered. Fingers crossed.
     
  20. Dubious Destiny

    Dubious Destiny Seventh Year

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    I've never been able to get into sci-fi books, but I wanted to give this series a try based on the summary and reviews.

    It's got a slow start. The protag is an idiot. The setting didn't impress me either.

    There might be "cool stuff" later, but it's a chore to read without any hook.

    Definitely a 2/5 for a published work.
     
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