New Treasures: Shadow in the Empire of Light by Jane Routley

New Treasures: Shadow in the Empire of Light by Jane Routley


Shadow in the Empire of Light (Solaris, January 2021). Cover by Head Design

I’ve got a soft spot for Jane Routley. In the early days of my career — when I had nothing more than a 386 desktop, a dial up connection, and dreams of a vast blogging empire — I chased publishers relentlessly, sending countless review notices and badgering them with requests for review copies. Andy Heidel at AvonNova was the first publicist to take me seriously. Or maybe just the first to ship out a box of books to shut me up, I’ll never know sure.

Whatever the truth, tearing open that very first box of new releases in my living room in July, 1996, felt like Christmas. And the fist one I took out of the box, and the very first book to get a review assignment at my fledgling website SF Site, was Mage Heart by Jane Routley. I’ve followed her career with great interest ever since, and I was delighted to snap up a copy of her newest, Shadow in the Empire of Light, when it was released by Solaris last year.

Cheryl Morgan has a terrific review of the book at her website, Salon Futura, saying it “neatly deconstructs Regency romance in all sorts of ways.” Regency fantasies are a strange and delightful sub-genre of fantasy that offer a unique form of entertainment. Here’s a snippet from Cheryl’s review.

Shadow in the Empire of Light will, I guess, be characterised as fantasy comedy Regency romance, but it is actually quite a bit more than that. The world in which it is set does seem to have some connection to Regency England, but the existence of magic has made a significant difference… Our heroine, Shine, is a minor member of the Imperial Family. She has no magical talent, but she is quite smart and does a good job running her family estates while her magically talented relations are off in the capital conspiring against each other…. Inevitably Shine gets herself into all sorts of trouble…

I should note that the Empire is not intended to represent any real-world civilisation. Rather it is poking fun at British attitudes to race by making the arrogant nobility non-white. In a similar fashion, a society that we might expect to be very prudish is shown to be anything but. Routley neatly deconstructs Regency romance in all sorts of ways.

I very much enjoyed this book. Hopefully some of you will too.

Shadow in the Empire of Light was published by Solaris on January 19, 2021. It is 340 pages, priced at $11.99 in trade paperback and $6.99 in digital formats. The cover was designed by Head Design.

See all our recent New Treasures here.

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