*I received a free copy of this novel, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Before I start, I just wanted to note that this book was previously ‘Captives’ and was book 3 in the Mud, Rocks and Trees series. I will turn to the author’s own FAQ from her website to explain the change:
Q – When I started reading this series it was called Mud, Rocks, and Trees and there were six books, starting with Refugees. Now there are only five. What happened?
A – The series got a facelift with new covers and titles! I was thrilled with the new cover designs Ryan Hauge created for me! Book 1 and 2 (Refugees and Seekers) are now combined in one book, The Emperor’s Harvest. I thought the new covers and titles fit better with the fantasy genre. I hope you agree!
– R. A. Denny, Website FAQs
Blurb: I can see the future, but it’s muddy. A dream led me to Baskrod when I was a small boy. A dream showed me the emperor’s mad ravings in his throne room. And a recurring dream reveals that I will ride a lion into the city of Tzoladia at the head of a victorious procession.
But what if I’m wrong?
Prophecies, dreams, and signs are easy to misinterpret. Why else would the wise men of the Society of the Word hide in caves, carry swords, and employ spies? I thought they would know where to find the other deliverers.
But nobody knows what has happened to Brina and Moshoi. For all I know, the emperor may already have them in his trap.
Definitely read these books in order (so read The Emperor’s Harvest before this one), as in true epic fantasy style the plot and characters won’t make much sense without the knowledge of what went before.
The plot gathers pace in this instalment and the reader is kept on the edge of their seat throughout as barely a moment passes when all of the main characters are not in grave peril. We also see the individual strands begin to come together as the main four – Brina, Tuka (representing Moshoi… you’ll have to read to find out why!), Amanki and Metlan – move in and out of Tzoladia like pawns on a game board and begin to cross paths here and there.
As before we see Brina, Tuka and Amanki as pure and good – even a little passive – as they flow with the tide of events and wait for their chance to escape their respective ‘traps’. In contrast, Metlan continues to be a surprising enigma, with his behaviours contradicting his thoughts and his drive for action and change. I couldn’t help but tie these qualities to their respective religious belief systems, as the three Adonites hold fast to their faith in the will of their god to save and guide them, whilst Metlan seems to mainly believe in himself (very strongly!) and therefore has more capacity to take individual action without consideration for morality or consequences.
This series has me firmly hooked now and I need to read books 3 – 5 and find out what happens next. Will Brina find love as well as freedom? Will Moshoi return or will Tuka have to follow his brother’s Star? Will mud and fur fly when Amanki and Metlan come face-to-face, or will they embrace their similarities and mend their differences? What will happen when the three seals are finally united? I’ll let you know my thoughts when I find out…!
In the last days, when the new star glows in the skies;
Out of the depths of the rocks we call. Hear our cries!
As earth’s secrets unfold, he who sleeps will arise;
Three seals guard the land where the hidden treasure lies.
Rock soars out of the air; trees float over the seas;
Every man in the city buried by mud flees.
So, let the Word be spread, so let the Truth be known
When the son of a duck, the heir, takes the throne.
Through the bog roll the stones, through the log flows a breeze;
Build the Kingdom by gathering mud, rocks, and trees.
– R. A. Denny, The Emperor’s Trap
The Emperor’s Trap (and the rest of the Tales of Tzoladia) is available on Amazon right now!