Formats available: ebook, paperback
Series: The Emperor’s Edge, #2
Length: 318 pages
Date Released: March 16, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository
It’s been three months since former enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon and the notorious assassin Sicarius thwarted kidnappers and saved the emperor’s life. The problem? Nobody knows they were responsible for this good deed. Worse, they’re being blamed for the entire scheme. With enforcers and bounty hunters stalking them, and the emperor nursing a personal hatred for Sicarius, it’s going to be hard to earn exoneration. When Amaranthe’s team discovers mutilated bodies in the city aqueducts and a mysterious illness incapacitates thousands of citizens, she and Sicarius see an opportunity to solve the mystery and prove their loyalty. But they’ll have to defeat vengeful shamans, man-eating predators, and deadly mechanical constructs, all while dodging imperial soldiers who would rather kill them than accept their help. Nobody said exoneration would be easy.
Finding dead bodies blocking the sewer is generally considered bad news, unless it’s the start to a fantastically marvelous story like Lindsay Buroker’s Dark Currents, the second book in her fantasy-steampunk Emperor’s Edge series.
I was hooked from the moment that Books fell into that first squishy, wet corpse.
Books is a person, by the way, Marl Mugdildor, the researcher in Amaranthe Lokdon’s crazily mismatched team. This is his story. Well, he’s more the near-central player.
The Emperor’s Edge series is Amaranthe and Sicarius’ story. Amaranthe is a former Imperial Enforcer, and Sicarius is still the best assassin in the known world. Quite possibly ever. Their goal is to do enough really terrific great deeds (and get recognized for them) that they can redeem everyone’s name so that the Emperor will forgive them all.
Amaranthe wants to be back on the good side of the law again. She never intended to be a criminal. It was something that got forced upon her because she is more than a bit too smart for her own good. (Read the awesome beginning of the series, The Emperor’s Edge for the complete story). Sicarius needs to get back on the Emperor Sespian’s good side because, very, very much unknown to the Emperor, Sicarius is his real father.
Amaranthe is the only person alive who happens to know that rather dangerous fact. Sicarius has been trained, practically from birth, it seems, never to give away anything. But if there is one thing that Amaranthe is good at, it’s getting people to tell her things that they had no intention of revealing. It’s a talent that seems to work especially well on the otherwise extremely taciturn assassin.
When she’s not getting them both nearly killed. Or when his very murky past isn’t coming back to bite them both in the ass.
Speaking of which, a lot of those “dark currents” referred to in the title of this book have to do with Sicarius’ past. The rest of the currents are water. It turns out that no one really knows where the water that feeds the capitol of the empire is sourced from–except whoever is poisoning it.
Amaranthe and company head into the countryside to find out, hoping that saving the entire city will be a splashy enough job to catch the emperor’s attention in a favorable way. It’s too bad that the emperor has already sent soldiers and enforcers to get to the bottom of the problem, and that they don’t trust Amaranthe and her crew.
It’s even more serious that the real problem is one that only Amaranthe’s crew can handle. There’s a mad shaman on the loose, and no one in the empire even believes in magic.
Escape Rating A: I absolutely could not put this down. This was one of those “miss-my-bus-stop” books.
The thing that is making this series so good for me so far is the relationship between the team members. The snark level is very high, but it’s part of the way the camaraderie builds. This is the kind of family that grows by spilling blood together. And by occasionally having its blood spilled together.
Amaranthe’s relationship with Sicarius is heading slowly toward romance. It’s very slow, and that’s good. He started out so closed off, that there was no way he was anything other than unattainable at the beginning. Gorgeous, but unattainable. It would be like throwing herself at a rock. She’d break. But she’s getting to him, and he’s cracking a bit around the edges.
Having this story use Books as the focus character instead of Amaranthe gave the team more depth. Being more in his headspace and hearing why he was with the team and what he got out of it added more to the story.
I have a few more things I need to read before I can treat myself to the next book, Deadly Games. There’s a novella in between, The Assassin’s Curse, and I know I’m going to read it too. This series is just too much fun to resist for long!