Empress takes us to the cruel world of Mijak. It's people are harsh and suffer under the bloodthirsty rule of a 'God' that delights in sacrifice, slavery, torture and unquestioned loyalty. We have a sense of where the book is leading from the first few pages. The violence and depravity does not lessen throughout but unlike some books, this does not become wearing.
Hekat is a powerful character. She has fire, purpose and drive. Despite starting the book as a victim, she clearly is not and while identifying with her is difficult (because boy is she evil and cruel) she is also one of the better written female characters I've seen in a while. She is single minded in her quest and its actually good to read a properly written female character who doesn't attempt to make us feel sorry for her. I love the fact that the character is apologetically cruel.
Will definitely be adding book 2 and 3 to my reading list.