The Emperor's Edge is a series of sword and sorcery/steampunk/crime novels written (and self-published) by Lindsay Buroker.
The core cast is a valid example of Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.
- Amaranthe, the protagonist, is The Heart of the ensemble. As the one with the unwavering moral compass, she usually works as their conscience. As the leader, she usually comes up with zany schemes that frequently involves her strolling into the villain's hideout to have a chat with him/her. She has the ability to talk herself out of almost any given situation.
- Sicarius: works as Amaranthe's lancer. With the emotional range of a very featureless rock, this very badass assassin is the epitome of The Stoic and The Spock.
- Books: starts as The Alcoholic lying to waste in a forsaken inn. But in reality he was just drowning his sorrows and as the series progresses the drink stops being an issue. As his nickname states, he is a through-and-through Mr. Exposition, often getting into long explanations of things to the chagrin of the others. The oldest of the group, Books is usually awkward and often gets to be played for comic relief.
- Maldynado: serves as the Handsome Lech. Arrogant and crude but charming to a fault, Maldynado has the ability to endear himself to any female that crosses his path. A very useful talent in a society where most business owners are women.
- Akstyr: a very surly teenager that, while his abilities fill a very important gap in the group's skills, his personality marks him as the Token Evil Teammate.
- Basilard: the group's mute Gentle Giant. Your usual scarred and rather scary Big Guy that happens to be more of a tender soul that prefers peace over violent actions.
According to the author, the main story was planned to be told in six novels, featuring each of the main cast as a secondary narrator. However, the sixth book proved to be too long and she split it in half for a total of seven books.
The books are:
- Book One: The Emperor's Edge
- Book Two: Dark Currents
- Book Three: Deadly Games
- Book Four: Conspiracy
- Book Five: Blood and Betrayal
- Book Six: Forged in Blood I
- Book Seven: Forged in Blood II
Though the main story ended in Book Seven, two more novels have been added to the series-
- Diplomats and Fugitives
There are also two short story compendiums:
- Ice Cracker II (and other stories)
- The Assassin's Curse
And one novella taking place betwen books 5 and 6:
- Beneath the Surface
Buroker has also written two novels and one short story set in the same universe about 20 years before Emperor's Edge:
- Enigma - Short story
They contain the back story of philologist Tikaya Komitopis and her husband, who play a part in Forged in Blood I & II. In Encrypted Tikaya is kidnapped by enemy marines who need her cryptographic skills to decode mysterious runes. Sicarius appears as a mostly antagonistic secondary character halfway through. Decrypted concerns her return to Kyatt and ensuing trouble. Although Encrypted/Decrypted can be read as a standalone series; it does fill in small details that were unexplained, or glossed over in the main series.
This series shows examples of the following tropes:
- Aerith and Bob: Amaranthe, Sicarius, Sespian, Maldynado, Akstyr, Basilard, and...Marl. Everyone calls him Books, though.
- The Atoner: This is how Amaranthe sells continued cooperation to work for the good of the Empire to the others, particularly Sicarius.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Turgonia's warrior caste is a pretty straight example. Families were rewarded with aristocracy and lands for outstanding acts in wartime, and male members almost all attend officer school. Athletes who sweep the Imperial Games are similarly granted land and a title.
- In The Emperor's Edge we find the Nurians have a wizarding caste that serves the same function.
- The Dandy: Maldynado, being (former) warrior caste, has an interest in high fashion.
- Down in the Dumps: In Deadly Games the group's hideout is in a locomotive boneyard.
- Full-Frontal Assault: In "Deadly Games" Sicarius and Basilard do this after freeing themselves from the lab tables. Basilard is uncomfortable nude, though, so he steals a jacket from one of the guards they take out. Sicarius stays naked.
- Functional Magic: Referred to as "mental sciences" by those in the know. The Empire says it does not exist, and also considers its use a capital crime.
- Improvised Weapon: In Book 2, Amaranthe and Books get to defend themselves with a fireplace poker and home cooked smoke bombs.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Sespian is Sicarius's son.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Both in-universe and out. "Sicarius" is Latin for "assassin," and his reputation certainly makes running seem the safest option. His wanted poster says "Shoot on Sight."
- Neat Freak: Amaranthe is constantly cleaning and/or arranging things, whether the group's hideout, other people's offices or the top of a train car. Her fingers yearn for cleaning as a way of dealing with stress.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Books's real name is Marl Mugdildor. This fact is rarely mentioned, despite the fact that he says he actually prefers his real name.
- Steampunk: There's no strong focus on gadgets, but it's there, e.g. steam cars, and punchcard-operated robots.
- Theme Naming: Every warrior caste family's last name ends in "crest".
- Theme Twin Naming: In Deadly Games, a pair of scientists with morally ambiguous doctorates intent on creating cute little super soldiers to sell in their Super Breeding Program are named Litya and Metya.
- Family Theme Naming: Early in the same book a Kendorian athlete named Fasha is looking for her missing little sister, Keisha.
- Uriah Gambit: Amaranthe and Sicarius first met when Amaranthe was sent by the Commander of the Armies, Hollowcrest, to kill him. Sicarius himself tells her that her mission was a suicidal one, and asks her what she did to anger Hollowcrest.