Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: "Conspiracy" by Lindsay Buroker

Newcomers to Lindsay Buroker's Emperor's Edge series should read them in order: "The Emperor's Edge," "Dark Currents," "Deadly Games" and, most recently, "Conspiracy." While all can be read as standalone stories, there is an overarching storyline that will make the most sense if you start at the beginning.
At the end of "Deadly Games," a note from the emperor offered Amaranthe and her group of mercenaries a large sum of money to kidnap him. No explanation was offered, but for a group of people seeking to vindicate themselves of various accidental criminal acts — and other, more personal motives — it was the opportunity they'd been waiting for. Their plan to do so runs into a few hitches, of course.

Buroker's strong suit is her characters, and "Conspiracy" continues to flesh out the members of the Emperor's Edge: Amaranthe, Sicarius, Maldynado, Books, Akstyr and Basilard. This book's side story focuses on Akstyr and his motivations. I'll admit that he was my least favorite character in the previous books, simply because he was so sullen all the time, but "Conspiracy" gives reason to hope he's gotten past that. We get more back story on Maldynado, too, likely in preparation for his story in Book 5.

I'm a sucker for writers including call-backs to earlier works, so when minor characters made reappearances here, I was thrilled. I hope that one, in particular, becomes a regular part of the team. (Highlight for spoiler: Sergeant Yara. Her interactions with Maldynado were amusing, and "watching" Amaranthe deal with another woman was a nice change of pace.) I enjoyed the related book "Encrypted," so I liked the references to the lead characters of that story and the appearance of the mysterious technology. I would love to see these two worlds intersect at some point.

And, of course, there's Amaranthe and Sicarius. Sicarius again gives Amaranthe reason to question herself for having feelings for him, which — yeah. That's reasonable. He kills people at the least provocation. However, she's had ample time to reach a decision on that matter, and she needs to either find peace with who he is or accept that it's not going to work.

Buroker is one of the best self-published authors that I've found. Excellent writing, good plotting and good editing — which, unfortunately, isn't always the case for indie authors. "Conspiracy" more than lives up to the high expectations she's set with the preceding books.

Be warned: "Conspiracy" ends with a classic cliffhanger. Good thing Buroker's such a speedy writer.