Don't read a single book of Lindsay Buroker's The Emperor's Edge series, because if you do, you'll be forgetting everything else that's important in your life in favor for Amaranthe's madcap adventures with her equally mad outlaw family. Everything beyond the text of these books will cease to exist. I probably put off one day of work for each book I read.Conspiracy
is another excellent addition to the series, and this time, Amaranthe and her ragtag goon squad are on their biggest mission yet: to kidnap the Emperor. It's all on his request, though, so that makes it okay. Technically. The setting: a train threading through the countryside, bristling with Imperial Guards and the odd magic practitioner or two. The Great Train Robbery ain't got nothing on this.
Akstyr mans the helm alongside Amaranthe this time, and although one has to wait until the end of the book for the manifestation of his character development, it is rather satisfying. He's a selfish brat who avoids all responsibilities under the pretense of furthering his magic studies. Life hasn't been good to him, and he sees no need to be good to anyone else. In this book, he learns what it means to be part of a family, even if it isn't the same family you started out with.
This book also shines the light on Sespian, who's far less naive than he was when Amaranthe first met him. Sespian has been hardened by his experiences, and trust no one but Amaranthe. My heart breaks a little for his lonely position as emperor of a secretly hostile empire and not the least for his unrequited crush on Amaranthe. I like that he's grown up in the past three books, and he has the makings of a hero himself. We'll see.
And man, it has to be said that every romantic (or very nearly romantic) encounter Amaranthe has with Sicarius just delights me completely. I love their relationship dynamic, even though in real life it would be pretty messed up. Oftentimes, you don't really see why one member of the couple would be in love with the other, aside from mad good looks -- most often, you wonder why the man would be in love with the woman because he's written to woo a female audience and she to receive his charms. With Amaranthe and Sicarius, however, their long and laborious (on Amaranthe's part, at least) courtship makes it so that there could be no other outcome. Of course, she'd be in love with him, and of course he'd love her back. She's brilliant and charming and has an incredible depth of caring for him that no one else has given him in his life.
So yes, having this book end in a cliffhanger that promises daring escapes and reunions is excellent