The Emperor’s Arrow by Lauren D.M. Smith


29832434The bride candidates have been summoned. Their numbers are many, yet only one is an Amazzi warrior. Only one would give her life to protect him.

Evony of Aureline, warrior of her people, has no intention of becoming a hideous old man’s bride. Though her people have sworn their loyalty to the legendary emperor Galen, Evony knows little of courts and intrigue. It’s simply not her world.

Yet it’s on the palace training grounds where Evony’s archery skills gain her the respect of soldiers and legates alike. The emperor himself takes notice of the beautiful, ruthless warrior. In turn, the young, steely eyed Galen is nothing at all what Evony expected. As the rivalry among the remaining bride candidates intensifies and the plot for the throne unfolds, Evony must make a grave choice: fulfill her destiny and protect her people or follow her heart and pursue true love.

Either way, the honor of the Amazzi people and the future of the empire now rests with Evony of Aureline. For she is the Emperor’s Arrow.


This book is like The Selection with fewer dresses and more archers, or Poison Study with many more factions to keep straight.  I like what Smith is going for but unfortunately it falls short for me.

The good:

  • Competence porn, I love thee.  Evony is very good at what she does – shooting things with arrows.  She is kick ass, knows it, and doesn’t let anyone boss her around.  You go, girl.
  • Some of the language usage is neat – I like “brightness” as a title for the young ladies.  It just feels right in the world.

The not-so-good:

  • Evony has no faults and never really messes up.  The only thing she sucks at seems to be gardening, a non-issue when you’re an archer.
  • A lot of potential brides are introduced all at once and I did my best to remember who is who… only to have a sizable number eliminated quickly.  I would have liked it if the important characters were emphasized earlier, with fewer facts about characters that only last a few pages.
  • There are a lot of factions and areas of the kingdom and their names all blend together.  Evony’s speech describing her corner of the world is repeated several times with the same content while other areas are barely described.
  • I love a feminist book, I really do, but this novel wears its ideals on its sleeve, tunic, and ball cap.  You’re hit over the head repeatedly.
  • Galen is boring and hard to understand as a character.  I don’t really get how he falls in love with Evony or believe the relationship at all.
  • The writing isn’t as solid as I would like.

While I can’t heartily recommend this book I’ll still keep an eye out for Smith’s next to see how she grows as a writer.

Thanks to Carina Press and NetGalley for providing a review copy.