Congratulations to Isabelle Steiger — my stepdaughter — whose debut novel, The Empire’s Ghost, has been published by Thomas Dunne Books!
The Empire’s Ghost is the first book in an epic-fantasy trilogy that’s set in a once-magical world, where the ruthless dictator Elgar schemes to seize control of an entire continent. He’s prepared to kill anyone who stands in his way.
Among those arrayed against him are the brilliant and dangerous Arianrod Margraine, who is the marquise of Esthrades. She’s assisted by her mysterious female bodyguard/assassin Seren Almasy. Booklist’s review singled out Isabelle’s female characters for praise, saying they are “… fully realized, flaws and all, as they hold their own in a struggle for domination …” I wouldn’t expect anything less from Isabelle, especially after I traumatized her years ago by telling her about the 1977 book A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony. I loved Anthony’s pun-filled Xanth fantasy books as a kid, but to say they haven’t aged well is a massive understatement. The character Chameleon’s magic is her monthly cycle: Every month, she becomes increasingly beautiful and and less intelligent, then the process reverses and she becomes smart and ugly. I normally don’t condone book burning, but the Anthony series should never have existed, so if you stumble upon this one, set it on fire before it can do any additional harm.
Back to business: I give the The Empire’s Ghost five stars, and not just because Isabelle is family. Sometimes, as I’m reading a great book, I’ll think, “I’m so glad I chose this book,” and I found myself thinking that frequently while reading Isabelle’s book. Each time, I would be jolted by the realization, “OMG! I know her!” I’d say that’s ample proof of a genuine rave review. My only complaint is that I wanted to read the next book in the series immediately, and Isabelle isn’t even giving me any hints about what’s coming. Rude!