I would like to thank the author for giving me the opportunity to review her work. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Let’s get to it.
In the alternate history novel The New Empire, the world undergoes a drastic change in the 14th century when Chinese ships land on the west coast of what we know as the Bay Area of California. Fast forward four hundred years to a much different America, a land dominated by a cross-continental tribal confederacy grown out of a strong alliance with Beijing. This new empire has been built on the backs of enslaved Chinese political prisoners and a profitable trading partnership overseas.
Into the mix comes Jiangxi, youngest son of the last Chinese Emperor. When he arrives from across the ocean as a boy, he is purchased by Onas. As Jiangxi grows up, he’s caught between the two worlds of his past and present, forced into choosing between opposing ideas of freedom. Told from the main perspective of a Chinese slave in a Native American world. The New Empire paints a vibrant picture that draws strongly on a non-Eurocentric worldview.
My Thoughts on The New Empire
The premise for The New Empire was so intriguing to me, and it was executed quite well. The one tiny thing I noted at the beginning was that the only way that I knew it was set in an alternate America was because the synopsis told me that. It became clearer later on in the story, but just a bit more context would have been helpful.
I enjoyed The New Empire. And while it was an alternate history fantasy, I could tell that the author did a lot of research in order to portray the cultures accurately. That was a much-appreciated detail. It can be so easy to lose sight of the culture you’re trying to portray in an alternate history. But McBain brought her world to life while still respecting the history that was already established.