Author H.E. Salian presents an exciting series debut with A Step Through The Empty. This novel invites readers into an inventive world where characters must make the most of unprecedented circumstances. I was instantly captivated by the narrative approach the author takes, and the details of the Caeleptan universe.
This book explores the journey of Brynte Godric, the newly-crowned King of the Medius Sphaere, as he struggles to repair the mess of a Kingdom his tyrannical father, Vlasis, left behind. In an effort to eliminate one of the many emerging wars between Sphaeres, Brynte arranges a marriage with Princess Istoria of Sylva. As Brynte and Stori become familiar with their new roles (and with each other), they learn that preserving order and keeping the crown comes with tremendous challenges.
When Brynte catches wind that a once-vanquished organization, Oracaede, is still in operation, and that their agenda threatens his rule, the new king is faced with the struggle of keeping his throne without sacrificing his beliefs. Can he be more than just his cruel father’s son? Can he stay one step ahead of all of his enemies? One must read the story to find out!
One of my favorite elements of this novel is the sheer uniqueness of the world Salian creates! I found myself fascinated with the intricacies of the universe, as well as the level of artistry that came with introducing readers to this world. There was so much intention placed into when readers learned the details of the empty and sphaeres. While at times I was hoping for more information sooner in the novel, I appreciated the approach taken in setting up her story.
Likewise, this book is unique in that it explores the unfolding narrative from all character perspectives. Chapters provide context from major and minor players, and the end result is a strong, well-rounded narrative. This truly allows the author to excel in balancing character and plot development, and creates a slow-release conflict that simmers and builds throughout the novel.
What kept this read from earning a fifth star for me was the character dialogue, though. The inconsistency between formal and informal phrasing read awkwardly for me. What could have been meaningful conversations and opportunities for further character development fell flat. Salian does a tremendous job in creating opportunities for characters to shine and speak, however the execution of that dialogue didn’t always follow through.
As the first installment in a fantasy series, this is only the beginning of Brynte’s story. I found myself demanding answers and more page space by the book’s final chapters, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to seeing where Salian takes this trilogy.