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Henry H. Neff is an experienced fantasy author best known for his five-novel epic, the Tapestry series, which concluded a few years ago with the end of our world. Lucky for us it was the beginning of a new world in Neff’s latest series starting with his new novel IMPYRIUM. That is literally how it works. The end of the Tapestry resulted in the complete end to our world and the beginning of another! If Henry’s Tapestry series were a shining and colorful rainbow IMPYRIUM would definitely be the pot of gold at the end.

IMPYRIUM is an epic novel set in the nation of Impyrium. It is an exhilarating adventure of intrigue, suspense and high fantasy with a steampunk twist. The world is too big to get into over a few sentences so let me just make a quick breakdown of things. In this book there are greedy rival houses of nobility, political and economic turmoil (that’s easy to follow), a potential demon war brewing out at sea, and a rich spy narrative that’s impossible to tear away from.  And all the magic rules are consistent and adhered to!

"Henry Neff has written an extremely well-paced adventure with an effective and noticeable confidence. His characters are rich and real."

The novel centers on the two very different characters of Hob and Hazel. Each one comes from opposite ends of the country. Hob, an impoverished teenaged miner, was born an exile from his own people, but has now been hired to infiltrate the royal family. Hob’s specific job is to report on the strengths and talents of the princess Hazel. Hazel, on the other hand, is a young princess and talented magician from the royal family who has been sworn to secrecy about her work. Hazel must hide her talents from those closest to her in order to better prepare herself as her family’s future protector.

With the world of Impyrium always moving, it can get kind of intimidating. The royal and noble families are at odds with each other and biding for power at all times. There is an entire world of demons under the sea watching and waiting for Impyrium’s moment of weakness in order to conquer all of humanity. There are revolutionaries working to bring down the kingdom from the inside, of which some of our lead characters fall in with. Leaders from every faction cannot be trusted and it gets hard to tell which way is the right and true path of the good guys. That is where IMPYRIUM is its strongest.

Henry Neff has written an extremely well-paced adventure with an effective and noticeable confidence. His characters are rich and real. They are entirely believable down to their temptations and fears. When they make their decisions, especially the hardest ones, they still make total and complete sense. One well-placed turn led to another and another until this book sped to its conclusion. I cannot often say that a 600 page novel was over too fast.

I will say though, this 600 page novel was over way too fast.

Reviewed by Matthew Burbridge on October 11, 2016

by Henry H. Neff