Quick review for a somewhat quick read (at least as far as audiobooks are concerned). I honestly enjoyed "Empress of a Thousand Skies", though it took me a while to really get started with it. The challenge for this story lies in the fact that it has multiple narrators, has a very extensive set of worldbuilding rules and jargon that may be difficult to adjust to at first, and follows different storylines that eventually converge and reveal themselves in terms of the link between characters. It also starts very sluggish with pacing and development, which to me was probably the narrative's biggest achilles heel through the beginning of the story. However, once I found the flow with the story, I honestly couldn't put the book down and I loved the experience. I honestly can't wait to see where this series ultimately goes, considering the stakes established and the character relationships.
In sum, this story follows two characters. The first is Rhee, a princess who is the last surviving member of her family after a tragedy befell them many years before. But Rhee knows it wasn't just an accident, and is bent on revenge against the person whom she believes is the culprit behind her family's death. It isn't long that she realizes that there are traitors in her inner circles who want her dead, and that her fight to keep her throne will cost more than she realizes. The other character is Aly, a reality star (DroneVision) who often faces conflict because of his racial background and war refugee status. Yet his world is turned upside down when he stands accused of murdering Rhee. The two have very different storylines and encounters, though both have to go into hiding and find themselves manipulated in a sinister plot that involves political and technological manipulation. The way the story is crafted with respect to the technologies and ambitions of the characters is very well done, and I was intrigued and taken in by the respective aims and motivations of the characters here. Sure, they start off as naive and driven by their own motivations, but as events and encounters come to light, they grow in significant ways, utimately facing losses, revelations about their role in events, and determination towards reclaiming their lives on their own terms.
I really enjoyed the audiobook narration by Rebecca Soler - she captured the emotional delivery and investment of the characters down to a tee. The only thing that I would say about the story that didn't strike me as well as most was the pacing and some meandering points in the worldbuilding that could've been tightened better, but the story itself was well done. I can't wait for the next book.
Overall score: 4/5 stars.