Echoes and Empires – Morgan Rhodes – ARC Review | Blogmas 2021: Day 21

Title: Echoes and Empires
Series: Echoes and Empires #1
: Morgan Rhodes
Genre: YA, Fantasy
: January 4th, 2022 (Razorbill)

Synopsis: Josslyn Drake knows only three things about magic: it’s rare, illegal, and always deadly. So when she’s caught up in a robbery gone wrong at the Queen’s Gala and infected by a dangerous piece of magic—one that allows her to step into the memories of an infamously evil warlock—she finds herself living her worst nightmare. Joss needs the magic removed before it corrupts her soul and kills her. But in Ironport, the cost of doing magic is death, and seeking help might mean scheduling her own execution. There’s nobody she can trust.

Nobody, that is, except wanted criminal Jericho Nox, who offers her a deal: his help extracting the magic in exchange for the magic itself. And though she’s not thrilled to be working with a thief, especially one as infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) as Jericho, Joss is desperate enough to accept.

But Jericho is nothing like Joss expects. The closer she grows with Jericho and the more she sees of the world outside her pampered life in the city, the more Joss begins to question the beliefs she’s always taken for granted—beliefs about right and wrong, about power and magic, and even about herself.

In an empire built on lies, the truth may be her greatest weapon.

Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Random House Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Magic of any shape or form is evil and illegal in Ironport, and anyone found having anything to do with it is summarily executed. So when Josslyn Drake, the daughter of the former prime minister and the Queen’s favorite, stumbles into a robbery during a royal gala and accidentally gets infected by a piece of said forbidden magic, she is desperate to get it out of her and realizes there is no one she can trust to help her – except the thief himself. Criminal Jericho Nox offers her a deal: he will help her remove the magic in exchange for the magic itself. But as she sees the world outside her luxurious life in the city, it raises more and more questions about the facts she has always taken as granted, and the shocking revelations that come to light will change her life forever.

“I wore red on the night I slammed headfirst into my destiny.”

I was so excited to learn that Morgan Rhodes has a new series, after such a long break following the Fallen Kingdom series (which I absolutely loved), and I’m honestly kind of surprised how low key this book has been so far – I literally only heard of it last month when I requested the ARC. The ‘magic is forbidden’ trope is always a good one, and combined with plenty of political intrigue, it certainly makes for a winning combination. I’ve really missed this author’s writing style and it was so easy to be drawn into the story right from the first chapter. I loved the many unexpected twists and turns, and just when I thought I could predict what was coming next, there was another shocking reveal waiting around the corner, which made this a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Josslyn was a strong protagonist and I really liked her character arc, as she goes from leading a privileged life to getting her world turned on its head and questioning everything she ever believed in. The dynamic between Joss and Jericho is really interesting so far, and given how well Morgan Rhodes writes enemies to lovers romances, I can’t wait to see how this develops.

I did, however, have a little trouble with the world-building. This appears to be a magical realism kind of world, a genre I always have trouble with. But on top of that, everything seemed to be described in rather vague terms and I had a really hard time visualizing any of it, which made the reading experience rather choppy for me since I had to keep stopping to figure out what worked in this world and what didn’t. The magic system as a whole was also not very well described, but since we see it entirely from Joss’ perspective whose only understanding of magic is that it is evil, that is much more understandable. With the revelations in this book, I’m hoping that the sequel will delve deeper into the nature and types of magic in this world.

The ending was basically twist after shocking twist and while it wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger, it’s going to be a long and painful wait for book two. This was a promising start to a new series and I’m looking forward to seeing where this story goes. Echoes and Empires was a fast paced and intriguing read that you will not want to put down, and I would highly recommend it for all fantasy fans!

Echoes and Empires releases on January 4th, 2022.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.

Other reviews in this series:

21 thoughts on “Echoes and Empires – Morgan Rhodes – ARC Review | Blogmas 2021: Day 21

  1. Sheri Dye December 21, 2021 / 11:21 pm

    Fantastic review! I can’t wait to read this one, it sounds like such a great read.. Plus? The cover really is lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) December 30, 2021 / 6:29 pm

      It was a great read! It’s been a while since I came across a fantasy novel that also felt like a thriller at times, but this did a great job of it. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Marta the Monogamist Reader December 22, 2021 / 5:36 am

    This is a great review, Raji. Thanks for sharing! I told you, I didn’t know this book was going to be released and after reading your review I’m even more intrigued. I’ll add this to my TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 24hr.YABookBlog December 22, 2021 / 10:16 am

    I completely forgot this was releasing so soon! I really enjoyed the Falling Kingdoms series and I may want to check out this one. Sorry to hear the worldbuilding wasn’t the strongest, if there isn’t enough detail that’s often a struggle for me too. Hope I’ll find time to read this one, your review gave me for insight into what I can expect, thanks Raji!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Molly @ Transatlantic Notes December 22, 2021 / 6:36 pm

    I’ve not heard anything about this book so it was interesting to read your thoughts — I wonder if the visualization of the world being vague would impact my reading of this too as I don’t often venture into this genre (and would probably need that element). I would like to give it a go and see how it goes though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) December 30, 2021 / 6:24 pm

      I think the pace of the story is fast enough for it to not impact the reading experience for the most part, so I think it’s definitely worth a try even if this style doesn’t usually work for you. Hope you enjoy it!


  5. readandreviewit1 December 28, 2021 / 11:51 am

    Great review! I wasn’t aware of this one either but it sounds amazing, I love the idea of magic being forbidden and it sounds like there’s some fab character development! Enemies to lovers is always a must, haha. Thanks for sharing, adding this to my tbr!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jaya Avendel December 28, 2021 / 3:54 pm

    Magical realism can come across as undefined and vague; I have had some experiences with just those issues in magical realism based books I have read, but I still enjoy the storyline of this book and love the quote you share! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raji (@journeyintofantasy) December 31, 2021 / 7:30 pm

      I agree, this does seem to be an issue that is common in this genre, but hopefully the sequel will make things a bit clearer! Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Angie Soul January 20, 2022 / 6:53 pm

    This is a great review! Will definitely check this out. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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