Heirs of Empire
by Evan Currie
Review by Sam Lubell
47North Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781503946903
Date: 22 September 2015 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Heirs of Empire isn't quite Star Wars with the serial numbers filed off, but the novel has a very Star Wars feel to it. The book is plot-driven action/adventure with some elements of military science fiction, space opera (except with airships rather than spaceships), and even YA (as the twin heirs are just fourteen). The book has a strong narrative drive and enthusiastic sense of adventure that overcomes its thin characterization and workmanlike prose.
The book opens with Mira Delsol, a member of the Cadre of specially selected and trained knights, guarding General Corian, a former Cadreman who turned traitor and tried to take over the empire. The Cadre are the only ones who have the genetic ability to use special force bolt weapons called Armati. At this point, my brain was already translating Cadre as Jedi (minus the philosophical elements) and Armati as light sabers and nothing in the rest of book conflicted with this interpretation. Corian escapes and succeeds in killing the emperor and taking over the empire. The two surviving members of the royal family, Lydia and Brennan Scourwind, the eponymous heirs of empire, escape due Brennan's natural piloting talent. The surviving Cadre hide themselves and Mira turns pirate, while both Corian and those loyal to the Scourwind dynasty hunt for the twins. Inevitably, it is only a matter of time before Mira and the twins join forces to try to regain the empire.
Evan Currie comes from the fanfiction world (under the name Tenhawk) and this book has some strong connections to his Journeyverse fanfiction series. Not surprising then, he shows some of the flaws of fanfiction writers--assuming that the characters and settings are already known to the reader so the author can jump right to the action. Characterization is weak--the twins are considered over-privileged brats by the palace staff and even each other, yet when on the run risk discovery to help a group of refugees. There is, however, a semi-believable reason for why Lydia would have thief skills. Mira is the closest to a developed character as her loyalties to Empire and Cadre conflict with her new responsibilities to her pirate crew.
The setting lacks definition. There are hints this is a forgotten Earth colony planet with several smaller countries in addition to the empire. The Armati are remnants of a more advanced civilization that cannot be duplicated. There is mention of a Senate and Corian wants to capture at least one Scourwind to legitimize his rule, but the operations of the Empire remain opaque.
Still, when the action is moving, which is most of the book, none of these flaws matter. Heirs of Empire is a fun action movie in book form with heroic heroes and the fate of an empire at stake. The novel also stands alone quite effectively, while leaving room for further adventures. Fans of Star Wars may want to pick this up while waiting for the next film.