A Saberhagen Review

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Empire of the East
Published in Paperback by Ace Books (May 1981)
Author: Fred Saberhagen
Average review score:
A Fun Yarn

This book combines parts of three previous works by Fred Saberhagen, The Broken Lands, The Black Mountains and Changeling Earth into a novel that covers the resistance to foreign conquerers who wield demons. The writing style is excellent, as the reader should expect from an experienced and popular author.

The book reads like a fantasy in many parts, but has a decent science-fiction post-apocalyptic base that supports the story and provides interesting plot twists. Saberhagen does an excellent job of combining technology and supposed magic into a seamless whole while introducing interesting tactical situations and plots that make the book fun to read.

The characters, especially the hero Rolf and Ardneh, the almost literal dues ex machina, are well developed and plausible. Rolf provides the perfect focus for exploring both the world Saberhagen has created and the philosophies and conflicts behind it.

The themes are the classics of human struggles to preserve the good against the evil, freedom versus slavery and fall, redemption and Savior. Saberhagen does them justice without dwelling on them. He illustrates in his writing why some men fight instead of give in to the evil power. I highly recommend Empire of the East. - Thomas Sewell