'A riveting and intense debut ... compelling characterizations will keep fans of grim fantasy entirely enthralled' Publisher's Weekly.
'It makes for a rich and entertaining storytelling environment, and Williams creates a twisty and enjoyable tale ... this is strongly recommended' SFX.
'The Emperor's Knife is a well-crafted narrative … The story flows well and the writing strikes a great balance between description and action' British Fantasy Journal.
'The Emperor's Knife is a tale of fear and fluidity, of evolution and ego, and is one that is dictated in a style so visual and penetrating that it will have the Pattern invading your dreams long after the final pages have turned' Fantasy Book Review.
'sophisticated and thoughtful' SF signal.
'This novel puts great writing to the service of vivid characters, a compelling plot and a wholly convincing fantasy world' Ben Aaronovitch. 'A fascinating, original and enthralling début that will leave the reader eagerly awaiting the next instalment' The Founding Fields. 'This amazing tale of magic and political scheming is a work of high fantasy in every way ... A grown-up and utterly brilliantly well-wrought epic fantasy' Ranting Dragon. 'A must read - it's fresh, it's exciting and [...] looks set to get even better!' Fantasy Faction.
'Fans of fantasy intrigue will want to try this new author' Library Journal. 'A strong fantasy novel with a fresh setting, rich characters and an enjoyable storyline' Adam Whitehead, The Wertzone. 'An ambitious debut novel ... demonstrates great deal of promise in its author' Justin Landon, Staffer's Musings. 'A debut with great potential' Stefan Fergus, Civilian Reader.
'Mazarkis Williams ... immediately ranks among the year's most exciting new fantasy authors' Fantasy Book Critic. 'Some wonderfully imaginative ideas that will [...] keep you reading' Book Monkey. 'It's a highly complex novel, filled with devious sub-plots, and enough twists to satisfy even the most demanding reader' Popcorn Reads. 'Replete with political intrigue and mystery, The Emperor's Knife is a story I will remember' Tim's Book Reviews. 'An ambitious, sophisticated and thoughtful debut novel' SF Signal.
From the Inside Flap
There is a cancer at the heart of the mighty Cerani Empire: a plague that attacks young and old, rich and poor alike, marking each victim with a fragment of a greater pattern. Anyone showing the marks is put to death. That is Emperor Beyon's law... In hidden room, a forgotten prince has grown from child to man, and as the empire sickens, Sarmin, the emperor's only surviving brother, is remembered. He awaits the bride his mother has chosen: a chieftain's daughter from the northern plains. Mesema is a Windreader, used to riding free across the grasslands, not posing and primping in rare silks. She finds the Imperial Court's protocols stifling, but she doesn't take long to realise the politicking and intrigues are not a game, but deadly earnest. Eyul is burdened both by years and by the horrors he has carried out in service to the throne. At his emperor's command he bears the emperor's Knife to the desert in search of a cure for the pattern-markings. As long-planned conspiracies boil over into open violence and rebellion, the enemy moves towards victory. Now only three people stand in his way: a lost prince, a world-weary killer, and a young girl from the steppes who once saw a path through a pattern, among the waving grasses. Mazarkis Williams pieces together a complex mosaic of personality and ambition in a brilliant work of magic and mystery set in a richly imagined world, the first book in a fantastic new series.