13. Born of the Empire – Editorial Review


Title:  13. Born of the Empire

Author: Sally Ann Melia

Genre: YA / Science Fiction


13. Born of the Empire introduces the reader to two boys on the cusp of turning fourteen in a future empire of twelve planets, the Dodecahedral.

Prince Teodor, shortly to become King of Earth, the second planet in the Dodecahedral, and, if he survives to eighteen, Emperor of the entire Dodecahedral Empire. Guy Erma, who wants to join the Dome Militants, the elite military group that protects Earth but is prevented due to his orphan status.

The teenagers appear to have different paths ahead of them but when Teodor is kidnapped and Guy becomes unwittingly involved, they are both forced to reconsider exactly who they can trust, and who they truly are.

13. Born of the Empire begins in action-packed style, straight into a galactic dogfight taking place on a research base in Sas Darona, a planet on the outer rim. The attack is given from the perspective of Captain Karl Valvanchi, a Zaracan warrior.

The Zaracans are shape-shifting, telepathic, and deeply charismatic aliens with an intense appeal to visualization. Although not integral to the plot at this stage, their depiction and behavior are immensely readable with a stylized, animé quality.

However, 13. Born of the Empire belongs to the engaging protagonists, Prince Teodor and Guy Erma. Melia ensures subtle, symbolic links are made between them, hinting at the potential for a strong, exciting dynamic to develop.

Teodor has the right amount of childish indulgence and cosseted vulnerability for a young prince. Nonetheless, the murders of his father and brother have impacted him and he displays increasing awareness of the nefarious scheming that surrounds him.

Guy Erma is also vulnerable but for differing reasons, and although raised as a “Domeside Boy,” living in attics, he often appears more naïve than the supposedly sheltered Teodor. Notwithstanding, he impresses as an unpredictably brilliant and compulsive character.

There are several twists and half-reveals to the boys’ backgrounds which spark curiosity and give suggestion to a nicely tangled web of connections. Nevertheless, the plot’s main thrust is relatively straightforward, and Melia elaborates on the vibrantly interesting cast as the search for Teodor escalates.

The novel is pacey, to the extent of feeling rushed in parts, but conversely, needed more substance to the story in some areas, which occasionally suffers from a lack of decided narrative direction.

Although, overall, Melia has a clear, focused vision for these books which is demonstrated by her single-minded and sharply detailed prose together with a well-considered glossary.

Even minor characters have emotional depth and a sense of social intelligence. There are some ingeniously creative flourishes and surreal inventions, such as the “Gorans,” the giant racing cats, and the gruesome “Battle Borgs.

Most of the novel takes place in the Dodecahedron Dome and its shadow, “Domeside.” What is fascinating about Melia’s setting is that, geographically, the framework is based on the St. Paul’s area of London, England, and reference is made to some of its medieval landscape.

These ancient city streets overlaid with the Dome’s futurism relate convincingly, especially as there is a primitively feudal aspect to the story, although the anachronistic juxtaposition may be lost on younger readers.

Intriguingly, the world of high fashion with its couture houses, models, and muses is quite central to the narrative, especially concerning Guy. This lends certain aspects of 13. Born of the Empire a compelling sense of the aesthetic.

Melia’s imagination has produced a gloriously mythical yet credible world combined with a spellbinding and beguiling story, making 13. Born of the Empire a vivid and strikingly original first novel in this YA science fiction fantasy series.



This Editorial Review was written by the Book Review Directory staff. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.

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