Book Review: The Broken Heavens (The Worldbreaker Saga #3) by Kameron Hurley

The Broken Heavens by Kameron Hurley

Rating:  ★★★★

The Broken Heavens is the third book in the Worldbreaker Saga (be warned, possible spoilers for book two ahead). I enjoyed it even more than the previous two installments. All the issues I’ve had with the previous two books, the chaotic POV shifts, the occasional lack of clarity, the excessive description, were trimmed away neatly and left me with just the story. Of course, it could also be that by the time we reach the last book in any series there’s simply not much extra left to tell.

The Broken Heavens takes place about one year after the events of Empire Ascendant, in which the Tai Mora successfully invaded the Dhai territory and left most of our main characters scrambling in the wilderness. If you’ve been following the trilogy up to this point, you know that we said goodbye to some characters in book two, and the improved focus and amount of quality time we were able to spend with each character in book three made me appreciate them all that much more. (I also noticed that Hurley took the time to start each first line of every chapter with a character name, which was one of my main complaints about book one.)

The action is almost non-stop from the very first page and the story didn’t feel at all bloated. Every chapter left me wanting to know what happened next. Perhaps most importantly, at no point in this book did I ever feel like I could guess what was coming next. I genuinely had no idea how it would end or which characters would survive. This series had already surprised me so much. It’s refreshing and feels completely unique.

If I have one complaint- it’s that this book occasionally felt like it had everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. I don’t always mind this, but in a series that feels so gritty, a fantasy that feels like it’s meant to be taken a little more seriously, I found myself occasionally rolling my eyes. I think it would have been fine if there had seemed to be some more rules governing these things, or references to them happening in the past, but at some point I just had to shrug my shoulders and accept that this was a fantasy world in which anything goes.

Overall- I’m glad I finished out the trilogy. I don’t think it changes drastically enough to make it worth reading if you didn’t enjoy book one, but if, like me, you felt a little ‘meh’ about it, I can say that each book is better than the next.

The Broken Heavens released on January 14, 2020 and can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher for supplying a review copy.

Book Review: The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga #1) by Kameron Hurley

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

Rating:  ★★★★

This book took awhile for me to get into.  It’s very dense, and there is a lot of information and characters to sift through.  However, once I got into the flow of it, from about the halfway mark on, I very much enjoyed this.

The plot is rather difficult to explain without spoilers, so I’ll keep it simple.  We follow different perspectives of people living across a single land, in different positions of power and different kingdoms, as they are slowly invaded by a unified opposing force.

The world building here is very complex, if that’s your sort of thing.  There’s three distinct cultures, possibly four if we count the invading force.  They have their own hierarchies, their own customs and rituals, and their own ways of thinking.  One culture is a matriarchy, another a patriarchy, another governed by priests or priestesses. In one culture men are kept predominantly as slaves, and in another you may not touch anyone, even for a handshake, without first asking consent.  There’s a lot of nuance and it can be difficult to keep track of at first.

The characters too are very complex.  A lot of them fall into those shades of gray areas where they’re neither inherently good or bad, not really likable or unlikable.  I felt differently about some characters than my buddies did at any given moment.

Reviews on this one seem to be split, with some loving the way Hurley has subverted common fantasy tropes, and others frustrated with the story.  And I actually do understand the frustration with the story.  It’s very slow for most of the book, mostly character driven.  This first book feels very distinctly like the prelude to the rest of the story.  It doesn’t necessarily feel complete unless you’re willing to continue.  There are a lot of loose threads to clean up in future books.

I do think there are some technical issues with it.  What stands out most for me is the number of POV characters.  I think there were a lot of viewpoints included that didn’t need to be included because Hurley was trying to show us some other side to the story.  It felt like she was going for omniscient and just didn’t quite make it.  Aside from that- we are not given any clues as to which POV we are seeing most of the time.  It resulted in me doubling back several times after reading ahead to figure out who was speaking.

It won me over in the end though, and I’m excited to continue on to book two in December!

Links: GoodReads & Amazon