“Born of Empire” by Simon Brown

Book Title: Born of Empire  

Author: Simon Brown

There has been a growing trend, of late, in fantasy – an increasing number of similar books, sagas, detailing the politics and internecine struggles of some fantasy world and a magic-imbued race that usually serves as a royal family. For those who enjoy this kind of work, “Born of Empire” is a must-read.

“Born of Empire”, the first book in Simon Brown’s series “The Chronicles of Kydan”, tells the tale of the Kevleren family, who are able to perform great feats of magic, but only by sacrificing that which they love. Love, in fact, is the great theme of “Born of Empire”. Throughout the novel, Brown examines many different twists and forms and ramifications of love, its betrayal, and its sacrifice.

The Kevlerens rule the Empire of Hamilay, and a branch of the family rules their neighbour and rival, Rivald, with whom they have an intermittent war. At the opening of the novel, Rivald invades the tiny and insignificant state of Kydan, compelling Kydan’s leader to turn to Hamilay was assistance. Meanwhile, in Hamilay, Maddyn Kevleren has fallen in love with Alway Selford, spurning Yunara Kevleren, who does not take it at all well (impregnating a commoner non-Kevleren is just “not done”), so it’s just as well that he can be conveniently exiled (that is, can lead an expedition), to Kydan.

Then there is a revolution in Rivald, as those the Kevlerens hold most dear turn against them. But then, being loved by a Kevleren is often not a tenable position!

“Born of Empire” is filled with twists and turns, as its complicated plot expands and raises new questions. It keeps the reader guessing until the very end… then leaves one waiting for “Rival’s Son”, the second book in “The Chronicles of Kydan”. One sometimes longs, however, for the author who was adept at telling the whole story in one novel. Sometimes the prospect of inevitably “hocking” one’s car to be able to afford the encyclopedic set, which will allow one to reach the terminus of a plot, is less than attractive.

Born of Empire by Simon Brown  is published in Australia by Pan Macmillan Australia.

“Post Mortem” by Patricia Cornwell


Book Title: Post Mortem

Author: Patricia Cornwell

Post Mortem is the chilling medical thriller that breathed life into the lungs of Dr Kay Scarpetta; the chief medical examiner whose passion for her work will lead her to a lifetime of sleepless nights as she uses her forensic skills to try to outsmart a serial killer haunting the night skies of Richmond, Virginia.

Post Mortem is the first book of a series of detective novels by Patricia Cornwell. It sets the scene for the successful creation of the medical examiner who allows the boundaries of work and pleasure to blur, only to find that too much knowledge is sometimes a more dangerous weapon than it is a powerful one.

Post Mortem implores subplots that enhance the intensity of the chilling murders by allowing the audience to appreciate aspects of the doctor’s working and personal life. Her troubled relationship with her visiting niece and the forbidden love affair with the defense attorney, show readers a number of faces of Dr Kay Scarpetta. This intensifies the empathy we feel for Scarpetta as the people she is trying to prove herself to, set out to destroy her reputation.

Every time she takes one step forward towards catching a killer, she is set two steps back by someone tampering with evidence and records that could lead to forensic certainty, and ultimately, put a killer behind bars. She makes the grim discovery that the killer can step right into the safety of her home and threaten her with the fear she has seen on the faces of the women that he has slain.

Post Mortem is a suspenseful and intriguing murder mystery that takes its readers on scientific twists and turns until the very last page.

Crime novel lovers will count this as gold in a genre that is often dominated by something less than silver.