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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Japanese Influences!
This book is self-published but don't let that put you off. If you like martial arts, epic journeys, fantasy, anime and manga then you should definitely check it out. It brings it. It brings all the blood.

Chiyo is a ruthless killer. But she didn't used to be. She used to be a mother, a wife, presumably a friend, living in, we assume, surburbia. From what she...
Published on 26 April 2012 by Anna Clare

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An ok book
Chigo Aglaeca wakes up from her cosy life with her husband and daughter to find herself in another time and place and in mortal danger.

Muhjah and Senka help her escape after she has killed some of the guards trying to kill her.

They go off on an adventure which involves lots of killing.

She is proclaimed to be `the Arm of the Goddess'...
Published on 5 July 2012 by adele


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Japanese Influences!, 26 April 2012
This review is from: The Weeping Empress (Paperback)
This book is self-published but don't let that put you off. If you like martial arts, epic journeys, fantasy, anime and manga then you should definitely check it out. It brings it. It brings all the blood.

Chiyo is a ruthless killer. But she didn't used to be. She used to be a mother, a wife, presumably a friend, living in, we assume, surburbia. From what she describes, she was comfortable and happy. However, this book starts when she is thrown out of that world and lands in an unforgiving new one where she is being rounded up like cattle by armed men who could have who-knows-what intentions. Even though she has no idea where she is, or how she came to be there, she fights these men as she has never fought before: for survival. And she never stops. It's like Kill Bill in here.

I really loved Chiyo. She is weak and vulnerable at the beginning, but after a bit of roughing up and asamurai sword training montage she is soon equipped to slash through soldiers with the best of them. Muhjah and Senka are the men she travels with who train her up, and they are very well-developed characters. Each has distinctive traits and they feel dangerous and unpredictable in their own ways. Senka in particular, with his silent approach and fierce loyalty, feels both a threat towards Chiyo while also being her best hope of safety.

The plot really makes you think. You put yourself in Chiyo's shoes and wonder how you would react; how could you cope knowing you had been ruthlessly torn away from everything you've ever known for no particular reason? And now you're being hunted by people you don't know or care about? The emperor wants to capture Chiyo because word has gotten around about this new stranger who is fighting her way through his men and people are whispering about her potentially becoming a new Goddess (their previous Goddess abandoned them some time before). Chiyo fits the prophecy for the new Right Arm of the Goddess and so she is suddenly becoming revered for something she knows nothing about. Chiyo doesn't care about any of this. She just wants to go home. I loved that about her; none of it ever goes to her head or fazes her- she knows who she was and violence is the only way she can stop herself crumbling because of it. She doesn't care about these people in this world or saving anyone from anything- she is no hero. She isn't moral or doing anything for the 'right reasons' because she has no reason to love this world that she was so cruelly flung into. She wants to get out of there and, if that's not possible, live the simultaneously violent and peaceful life she has acquired with Muhjah and Senka.

There is something beautiful about the way Chiyo finds that to completely block the memories of her previously cosy, motherly, nurturing life is to embrace the opposite; a bloody, ruthless, merciless one where killing provides joy. She becomes the best she can be, physically, at one point realising that she is no longer 'voluptous' and is instead 'all angles', there is no longer anything 'soft' about her- neither physically or mentally- no vulnerability or fear left at all. How could she have got there cradling babies and doing the washing?

There were only a few downsides to this book. One was, I felt, the lack of world-building. I can understand why Forsythe has done this, because it makes the landscape even more anonymous and disorientating and we as readers are put in the same position as Chiyo in terms of not having a clue where we are! But I like descriptions and details, and I would have liked to be able to envision things better. I also would have liked the Emperor, who sits up in his tower like an ineffective pig waiting to be slaughtered, to have been more evil and more involved in the story. He does order some pretty horrific things to be done to Chiyo, but I was still never really afraid of HIM. I feel like if I had been it would've added a whole other layer to the story.

Overall, I really liked this story. It was very original, and had a badass sword-wielding female protagonist who unleashes her inner beast. I am so excited for the sequel, as I am told her family from her old life enter the picture. Will she be able to reign in the beast? I'm not sure if she can...I hear once you get a taste for blood you don't go back.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 9 Feb. 2014
By 
H. Quadri - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Weeping Empress (Paperback)
If I was still a kid I would definitely be up defying bedtime rules reading this book under the covers with my good old Energizer torch. The pages of The Weeping Empress are soaked with blood to satisfy the protagonist's thirst. The plot follows Chiyo, who finds herself confusingly misplaced from the peaceful world she knows. Still somewhere between sleep and reality, she struggles to come to terms with the danger she is in. I found Chiyo's reaction to waking up bang in the middle of nowhere amidst intense action rather odd. She was really slow to react emotionally, but I stuck to the story and I am glad I did! I guess everyone has their own way of dealing with shock and Chiyo's reaction wouldn't come as a surprise to some.

Dark and mortifying scenes of slaughter and barbarism continuously strike the reader throughout this book. I would probably feel a lot safer shaking hands with Frieza than Chiyo (hello Dragon Ball Z reference!) What makes this more remarkable is that she is a woman. Yes, we do have some epic ladies in literature and they have been emerging from beneath the rocks lately, but Chiyo is just different. She's different because she is fierce, deadly, angry and dangerous as a woman. She is fuelled by the pain and loss she has experienced and her femininity is still a crucial part of her character. What I usually find with kickass female characters is that the writer tends to make them masculine, the essence of femininity is lost and you're left with a `tomboy'. Chiyo is nothing like that, Forsythe doesn't sacrifice Chiyo's sexuality, instead she uses it to enhance and deepen the character. Chiyo is torn apart from her family and the suffering follows her throughout the story, the reader is shown the struggle Chiyo goes through to get on with her new day-to-day life. What's more is that Chiyo is not a supporting character but is instead supported by two male characters who help her hone her skills only to have her surpass their abilities within a short amount of time. That being said, I do wish that Forsythe had paid more attention to Muhjah and Senka as I feel their characters turned irrelevant as the story progressed and would go as far as to say they almost became Chiyo's tools. Furthermore, a deeper insight of Chiyo and Senka's relationship was needed too; it felt as if I had missed something.

As Chiyo ventures further into the depths of the new world she becomes more and more involved, using her mental instability to become a terrifying Samurai who awes all that encounter her. The Sacerdotisa start making more appearances and the reader is exposed to some interesting twists and surprises. It becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. The goddess Kali is interlaced in the story with each chapter starting with words that appear to relate to the story told by the Sacerdotisa.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Weeping Empress and the ending was brilliant. There were some editorial issues but I was able to overlook these as I was so absorbed by the story itself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Action Heroine, 17 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: The Weeping Empress (Kindle Edition)
Oh my God, I'm out of breath! I have literally just finished reading it and boy, am I pleased I did. I started reading this yesterday on a train journey and I haven't been able to put it down since. If this isn't picked up by a publisher, becomes a trilogy, then films and sells by the truck load, then I'll eat my hat. Again.

'The Weeping Empress' begins with our protagonist, a normal modern woman called Chiyo wakes up in her pyjamas in the middle of a battle in what appears to be medieval Japan. She soon finds her inner dragon as she picks up a katana and starts to fight. She travels this new alien time and world with her two trainers and companions, Muhjah and Senka and she has to fight for survival in this world and the pain of being ripped away from her family back in the modern world.

This novel is blisteringly unique. It has an original and bad-ass heroine, lots of action, great characters and a cracking pace. The only thing I would like (apart from a sequel) is a bit more description of the world that Chiyo finds herself in. I understand we need to feel her confusion in this alien land but a bit of background to the oppression of her new home would be good. In the sequel perhaps? If you liked 'Kill Bill', martial arts and Japan, then this is definitely worth a download.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong dialogue, plenty of action., 25 Jun. 2012
By 
S (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Weeping Empress (Kindle Edition)
A strong female protagonist combined with martial arts in a somewhat dystopian landscape give this one an unusual flavour. Naming is unique which can take a few chapters to keep all of the names straight (for example 'Chiyo Alglaeca', 'Kagome Higurashi', 'Senka', 'Muhjah', 'Leoni' etc.

The dialogue is realistic, and helps to build characters however the world building is ambiguous at best. This is very much a character and action driven plot so if you are expecting descriptive fantasy this isn't it. There is some useful real world description on history, combat and geography but this is imported rather than created.

Formatting was a mixed bag. The editorial quality was good, and the linking for chapters is handy but a non fiction 'paragraph then space' approach was taken to the text rather than the typical indent that is customary for fiction work. I did like the use of italitcs to give us insight into Chiyo's thoughts, and this is one of the strongest aspects of the story. It's a very intimate approach that gives an exceptionally developed female lead. She is a tad tomboyish in places which I think is a shame as it detracts a little from making the lead a woman in the first place but given the importance of physical conflict to the book I can see why this approach was taken.

In a way it does feel like a description of a comic strip approach. Dialogue and action are emphasised strongly and well executed, and there is no excess verbage here. Every word is used to propel the story onwards giving it good pacing. This was slightly detracted from by the need to refer to the glossary provided at the back for terms like 'srbosjsek'.

Overall, the slightly machiavellian Chiyo is interesting if not sympathetic, and would make a good lead for future installments in a series.

NB: I recieved a free copy of this title for review purposes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do not pass this book by!!, 5 Jun. 2012
This review is from: The Weeping Empress (Kindle Edition)
I have been fortunate to have been introduced to some strikingly good books recently. The Weeping Empress being one of the first of which I read. I have not looked at reading a book such as this since I was a lot younger and was reading a lot of graphic novels. I fear that, because of this, if I had been in a book shop I may have passed it by. A word of warning readers .............. DO NOT PASS THIS BOOK BY!! It's an astonishingly bitter and self-sacrificing read that has been written by Sadie S Forsythe with the most beautiful carnage you can describe.
Our heroine Chiyo is the main protagonist throughout and we stay with her on her journey of pure anger, destruction and self-discovery as she tries to fight her way through a new and harrowing life that she has been dragged kicking and screaming in to. Throughout the book you see a little more of the old her being repressed and the new warrior inside being released. She is haunted by her old life, but what really unleashes her rage when the book reaches its end is the sheer betrayal and usage on her. It begs the question that do we really know what is in our destiny and do we have a hand in it at all. On reflection, throughout the book, Chiyo's character kind of reminded me a little of Frankenstein's monster, in the way that it became what it had been made to be.
It's strange, but when I read a book the images that it conjures up in my mind are always live action, but when reading this I could only see it in anime. It was almost like watching Kill Bill in my head, where it switches from live action to anime and back again.
In all I would highly recommend this book, it's a truly beautiful read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and beautifully written, 17 May 2012
This review is from: The Weeping Empress (Kindle Edition)
The Weeping Empress is a beautifully written and insightful piece of fiction that explores many different themes including that of gender expectations in a society where the role of the woman was fixed and immovable. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to hearing more from Sadie as I think she has a talent for creating a wholly realistic experience for the reader.

I would particularly like Sadie to enter her novel for the Tiptree Award as I think it matches the requirement to write a work of science fiction or fantasy that explores and expands on gender roles.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A mother lost, salvation found, in oriental based fantasy, 6 April 2015
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This review is from: The Weeping Empress (Kindle Edition)
I read once that a reviewer should ask themselves three questions in considering a book,
•What was the author seeking to achieve?
•Did they achieve it?
•Was it worth achieving?

In other reviews and books I have been swept along by story, character and language and that has been the thrust of my reviews. I have pondered on what did the book left me with after I had turned the last page. However, with The Weeping Empress I found myself more often than usual trying to discern the author's guiding hand and to get some sense of where the story was going and what it set out to achieve. This is not to say that that is a bad thing, just that this was a story that, in some significant ways, strayed beyond the envelope of my normal reading experience.

It is a self-published book and I came upon it by chance. A comment on one of my reviews of another book, led me to the author's blogpost, her review of the same book and a scanning of her other posts and at the end of it a why the hell not? let's read her book.

I had gathered that the story of Chiyo was written after the author had had her first daughter and that the powerful feelings engendered by motherhood were a significant part of the context in which the book was conceived.

Chiyo is a woman, wife and mother from (I am guessing) contemporary America, who awakes on a grassy hillside in a different age and place thrown into the middle of a horrific slaughter of old and infirm travellers. She joins with two differently enigmatic swordsmen and with them carves a trail of violence through an oriental landscape and culture. On the way she confronts an emperor and is in various ways challenged and supported by a religious order the Scaredisto.

The story raises questions for the reader and for Chiyo. How did she get here? Why was she brought here? Will she ever get home? And those questions don't really start to get addressed until over halfway through the book when the women of the Sacredisto begin to unravel some of their serpentine beliefs and mythology. Ultimately Chiyo's fate is wrapped up in the darkest secrets of the Goddess's will.

The culture is immediately recognisable as Japanese, before the word katana is even mentioned. Having written and read mostly in the pseudo-medieval tradition of much of western fantasy, it was refreshing to burrow into a different setting and the author's love and knowledge of the milieu is clear in aspects ranging from her description of the different parts of a sword to the precision of tea ceremonies. There is even a glossary of terms.

The other element that came through for me is rage. Chiyo is angry, angry at pretty much everyone and everything and that seems to fuel a bloodlust which (from a glimpse at other reviews) is something some other readers struggled to come to terms with. There is despair, a constant backdrop of betrayal and distrust as she writhes like a snake against the sense of being manipulated by one faction or another.

It seemed to me that the whole story is a merging of two great affections in the author's life into a single "What if..." question. "What if a woman like me were plucked from the loved and loving bosom of my family and transplanted into a cruel feudal landscape with little hope of return?" In such a story the nature of the central character's feelings must take centre stage, they are the engine and the heart of the story. And it is an exploration of that individual diaspora that I took to be the author's intent - the thing she set out to achieve. The other elements of the story serve as satellites to that central ambition.

There is then the question of how well was it achieved? Well, in vision our eyes have a foveal patch. A place on which our retina has a concentration of cells to detect fine detail - the sweet spot in the eye if you like - where we focus our vision while around it the objects in our peripheral vision is necessarily less detailed and precise. Forsythe's foveal view is firmly focussed on Chiyo and I felt the surrounding political and revolutionary context in which Chiyo and her two close male comrades operated, lacked a degree of detail needed to make it credible.

The trio wondered around relatively aimlessly attacking government troops, outposts and convoys with little sense of a strategy beyond causing trouble, and little sense of an opponent beyond the greed of an emperor led establishment. However, they seemed reluctant to offer any alternative world view beyond killing guilty and presumably the innocent. The two men that Chiyo teams up with seem to be as fuelled by incontinent rage just as much as Chiyo herself does. Though there is some development in their feelings towards Chiyo, almost to the very end neither seems to have progressed much beyond a desire to kill and a oft expressed surprise, which I had to share at times, that no-one had yet killed them in return.

There was a point, at the end of Chapter two, where the plot took a twist that had me stunned- disbelief seriously unsuspended. The sword wielding pair, having exerted considerable efforts and exposed themselves to some danger in the cause of a battered group of refugees, then displayed to me an illogical degree of callousness. It was not so much that it denigrated the value of the refugees, but that it denigrated the value of their own previous efforts on the refugees' behalf.

The mysterious sect of the Sacredisto moved to centre stage in the final third of the book. It was here I found myself trying to untangle the puzzle the author had laid. I tried to tease out what storyline there was beyond Chiyo's angry despair at the dislocation in her life and the revenge she delighted in taking on any who crossed the path of her. There was a message in the naming of her sword Salvation for it was its frequent use which offered her a kind of salvation, or at least a salving of her wounded spirit.

The bizarre mythology of the Scaredisto and their Goddess twisted like the snake that was their symbol but at the end I found myself thinking this was a struggle as much on the author's part to tie off the story on which she had launched herself and her heroine. At first I had been unsure if Chiyo had been plucked to a parallel world or a different time, and - with a reference made to unfamiliar stars - I suspect even the author may not have been. Though it is possible I do her knowledge of Japanese history an injustice. But at the end, like a snake eating its own tail, the tale (and tail) of the Sacredisto sealed the arc of the story and cleared the way for an epilogue that brought some closure for both reader and Chiyo.

There were points of plotting where the heroes tactics and strategy might not have stood up to too close a scrutiny, sketchy details and slightly implausible stratagems conspiring to conveniently place the heroes where the song of the katana could be most clearly be heard and described. There were bits of writing where the book showed its raw self-published origins, spared the sharp pen and eagle eyes of a professional editor. But then, I am a self-published author myself and let he/she who amongst us has had no tyops be the first one to cast a stone of rebuke.

I have a fondness for female led fantasy stories, I have read a few and have written three so far myself. Eowyn and Galadriel are amongst my favourite fantasy characters. So Chiyo's story appealed where a displaced male flung into the same baffling environment could not have. Indeed, I suspect the story could not have made so much sense without the sense of maternal loss which paradoxically seemed to drive Chiyo.

Was the story worth telling? It was unquestionably different, different to virtually any other story I have read and such a facet always makes a story fresh and worth of note.

Could it have been better told? It lacked a little polish, certainly. The central primal scream of the character could have been set in a more consistent background of tone, context and motive.

Was it worth reading? Well I finished it, and I am finishing far too few books these days. So I have to say I liked it and stars shall shine accordingly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delighted with what I found within the covers!, 8 Sept. 2012
This review is from: The Weeping Empress (Kindle Edition)
I have to confess, the names had me a little up in the air. A handful of pages within and I stopped trying to mentally pronounce them as they were written; my brain decided to make up it's own interpretation of the words and it stuck to them. I think this was the best course of action for me, as the narrative felt a little stop-start when I was trying to read accurately, but I began to become much more immersed in the plot and happenings within it when I stopped focusing on this, and the whole thing seemed to flow a lot more

This book's main downfall, and the reason I am only rating it 4 stars not the 5 I would like to give, is it's lack of description of settings. People and events are described in a very vivd way, but it could have been set anywhere. There weren't as many world-building passages as I would have liked, and I didn't feel as if the place was entirely real, to the effect of the novel playing out more like a theatre production in my head - the settings were there but only the characters within the action were illuminated, as opposed to seeing it in a real-world scenario. It could have done with a bit of an edit too, I found a few careless mistakes such as 'she murmur' instead of 'she murmured' or 'many of the guards were surprise' instead of 'surprised'; the use of US English also irked me a little (being from England), but these are all minor things that can be overlooked thanks to the good plot.

I did enjoy the book, though I was indifferent to the plight of the characters (possibly due to a lack of understanding in their motives!). Not enough was explained about the how and why, which made it a little hard for me to be empathetic towards them. However, the fast-paced action throughout kept me reading quite happily, pulling me along at a reasonable pace; the epilogue was a very fitting and satisfying conclusion to the story.

An enjoyable read - I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who has the ability to go into a book with an open mind!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Samurai and swords., 14 May 2012
By 
Yvonne Lee (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Weeping Empress (Kindle Edition)
Chiyo is a happily married woman with a young daughter. Somehow or other she finds herself plucked from her secure happy life and thrust into a world of violence and death--in her pyjamas! Well it is a fantasy!
In this strange new world indicative of Japan...a country that I find fascinating; Chiyo struggles to survive with the help of two powerful men Muhjah and Senka.

I have to say I struggled to relate to Chiyo. To me her change from a vulnerable, frightened and confused woman was rather rapid. At first she's lying on the grass wondering what's happened to her. The next, she's slashing and killing the soldiers who are trying to capture her and the people of the village she finds herself in. As the story progresses it's a feast of blood and gore, all of which quickly awakens Chiyo's hidden beast. Which to me didn't seem that well hidden; in fact it was pretty close to the surface. Maybe that's why I struggled to relate to her. I would have liked to see a little more of her feminine side.
I suppose I should ask myself, how would I react if I found myself in Chiyo's terrifying situation? In all honesty, I don't know, I probably wouldn't have survived.

My feelings towards Chiyo were ambivalent. However, I found her two warrior friends Senka and Muhjah fascinating, especially Senka. As I continued to read the book I grew to like him more and more!!
I would have liked the emperor to have had a bigger role in the story. His cruelty didn't really come across, not until he had Chiyo tortured. Even then I didn't hate him as much as I would have liked, considering he was the driving force for the trio's hatred.

Nevertheless, I have to say; I found the book intriguing and couldn't wait to pick it up and read more, which is a credit to the authors writing prowess. Some of the language in the book is quite beautiful.
If there is a sequel I will certainly buy it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An ok book, 5 July 2012
By 
adele (stamford, uk) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Weeping Empress (Paperback)
Chigo Aglaeca wakes up from her cosy life with her husband and daughter to find herself in another time and place and in mortal danger.

Muhjah and Senka help her escape after she has killed some of the guards trying to kill her.

They go off on an adventure which involves lots of killing.

She is proclaimed to be `the Arm of the Goddess' that the people have waited for.

I was expecting to really love this book but unfortunately it disappointed. It took a long time to read because it didn't grip me. I didn't hate it, I did in fact like it, the character's were quite good but did not illicit much empathy from me. The plot idea was good but the execution of it could have been better, I found it to be too slow, boring and repetitive in places.

There are also recurring spelling errors which would have been picked up by good proof-reading.

I did like this book and others may like it more than I did.

Star rating 3/5
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