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  • Empire in Black and Gold

  • Shadows of the Apt, Book 1
  • By: Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Narrated by: Ben Allen
  • Length: 23 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (606 ratings)
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Empire in Black and Gold cover art

Empire in Black and Gold

By: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Narrated by: Ben Allen
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Summary

Empire in Black and Gold is the first instalment in the critically-acclaimed fantasy series Shadows of the Apt by Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of the Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning Children of Time.

The days of peace are over....

The Lowlands’ city states have lived in peace for decades, hailed as bastions of civilization. Yet that peace is about to end. A distant empire has been conquering neighbours with highly trained soldiers and sophisticated combat techniques. And the city states are its desirable new prize.

Only the ageing Stenwold Maker – spymaster, artificer and statesman – foresees the threat, as the empires’ armies march ever closer. So it falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of the cities’ leaders. He sees that war will sweep through their lands, destroying everything in its path.

But to warn his people, he must stay alive.

Empire in Black and Gold is followed by the second book in the Shadows of the Apt series, Dragonfly Falling.

©2020 Adrian Tchaikovsky (P)2020 Macmillan Publishers International Ltd

Critic reviews

Brimming with imagination (SciFiNow)

The Shadows of the Apt series is simply one of the best epic fantasy series out there (LEC Book Reviews)

Super worldbuilding, great characters and extreme inventiveness (Fantasy Book Critic)

What listeners say about Empire in Black and Gold

Average customer ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Slow Going

I really struggled to rate this one, hovering between 3 and 4 stars.

The ideas behind this book and cast are exceptional and on paper made it a must read.

Insect type humans, in a steam punk fantasy universe, in an invasion setting? sign me up!

The narration is also superb.

However, I found large parts of the actual content to be really slow going and dare I say, sometimes boring.

I had to rewind numerous times where I had zoned out and missed what was going on.

This said, the story was engaging enough that I wanted to keep listening. wanted to uncover more of this brilliantly crafted world.

I will be giving the second book a go for sure.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great start to a series

Can not get enough of this narrator. Very talented and brings the story alive. Look forward to the next one

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Pleasantly surprised…

I struggled for the first hour or two, so many names and ideas I couldn’t assimilate it all. That said it was worth sticking with, can’t wait to listen to the next one.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Almost uninterrupted fighting

It felt like the whole book was one endless sword fight, which was described with one cliché after another. Blades were not slaked and so on.
The steam punk insect-people world was interesting, but I enjoyed A T's sci-fi books better.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Completely hooked

It's not often I feel compelled to write a review, however, this book (and series so far) deserves it. What started as an easy listen while I painted became so distracting I was so engrossed it was hard to be doing anything else while I listened. The reader, Ben, does a superb reading. Each character it seems is instantly recognisable by voice. He does a great job of helping build the large scope of the world with each accent and variation.

The story itself is thrilling, and has a hook that just keeps pulling, which made me want to read more and more until it was over, and I was left wanting. After finishing books one and two I ordered the full series, something I've never done before now as I know how long series can become monotonous and sour. After reading through some reviews however I think I've definitely made the right choice.

Overall I can't fault this book on anything, even if the full series is not for you, I highly recommend giving this a read (or listen) as it opens the door to a very interesting and unique world.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly engaging.

Starts as pretty run-of-the-mill high fantasy but it did grow on me over time. It grew on me despite it being nothing new. My main criticism is that there is a lot of combat: excessively so. I suspect Adrian dungeonmastered excessive games of D&D in his youth. I am still going to give the sequel a go as I suspect he is still finding his feet in the swords-and-sorcery genre and the weak points in this novel speak more to the editing rather than the writing.
Narration was excellent which also flattered the novel.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent narration and story

Really enjoyed this book. Excellent story. Adrian has got me.... already on 5th book... I totally recommend.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Overlong but great

This was a really compelling book but not a thriller in the couldn't-put-it-down sense. The plot was a bit too slow and too frustrating for that but it was still great to read. The world was fantastically built and you got a real sense for the various nations and their geography.

The nations and their ideologies were interesting too as were the characters therein. I felt like the main characters were great but I didn't really believe in the cause they were fighting/dying for. Why try to save people that would rather doom themselves?

The magical aspects of this were well thought out too and are explained immersively.

I just wish the plot was a bit tighter and felt like more of a whole narrative arc than a first volume in a larger story. The narration was superb.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

I have enjoyed a number of other Adrian Tchaikovsky novels, so took a punt on this. I was not sure about the insect kinden bit, but was quickly drawn in to the world through the superb character writing and world building. There are many historical and current parallels, but the story races along. I did not want to stop listening. will definitely be continuing the series. Read it! or Listen!

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Decent start

Decent start to what I hope is an epic tale. Narration was excellent bringing the characters to life.

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