The Throne of the Five Winds by S. C. Emmett

The Throne of the Five Winds (Hostage of Empire, #1)

by S. C. Emmett

Two queens, two concubines, six princes. 
Innumerable secret agendas.
A single hidden blade.

The imperial palace -- full of ambitious royals, sly gossip and unforeseen perils -- is perhaps the most dangerous place in the Empire of Zhaon. Komor Yala, lady-in-waiting to the princess of the vanquished kingdom of Khir, has only her wits and her hidden blade to protect herself and her charge, who was sacrificed in marriage to the enemy as a hostage for her conquered people's good behaviour, to secure a tenuous peace.

But the Emperor is ageing and the Khir princess and her lady-in-waiting soon find themselves pawns in the six princes' deadly schemes for the throne -- and a single spark could ignite fresh rebellion in Khir.

Then, the Emperor falls ill -- and a far bloodier game begins...

The Throne of the Five Winds is the first instalment of the Hostage of Empire series, an intricate and ruthless East Asia-inspired epic fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of George R. R. Martin, Ken Liu, Kate Elliott, and K. Arsenault Rivera.

Reviewed by Ashley on

5 of 5 stars


I adored The Throne of the Five Winds, but I'm also a little surprised that I did. Objectively, I was interested in the elements mentioned in the synopsis – court intrigue, princes, emperor, kingdoms with a tentative peace, etc. Once I started reading chapter one, I was a little concerned.

It's dense, intricate, and extremely detailed. Throughout the book there are occasional footnotes explaining types of tea, plants, and clothing. There's a strong focus on mannerisms and propriety, to the point where the exact angle used to pour tea is critiqued, and so is the exact degree to which a person bowed.

On top of that, there are a ton of characters. As noted in the synopsis: there's at least two queens, two concubines, six princes, an emperor, another princess, and that princess's lady-in-waiting. But there's also a general, an astronomer, physicians, eunuchs, and relatives.

I'm surprised I enjoyed the book because previously I would have said that level of extreme detail wasn't for me. But somehow I absolutely adored it!

The Throne of the Five Winds is very much about reading between the lines. Two people have a totally innocent conversation, and yet each is trying to read body language and tone to figure out if the other is on their side or possibly trying to assassinate them.

This has gone down as one of my all time favourite books and I can't wait to read the rest of the series!

Last modified on

Reading updates

  • 27 February, 2021: Started reading
  • 27 February, 2021: on page 0 out of 704 0%
  • 28 February, 2021: on page 86 out of 704 12%
    This is dense and complicated AF but I think I really like it.
  • 28 February, 2021: on page 105 out of 704 15%
    I love Takyeo!
  • 28 February, 2021: on page 200 out of 704 28%
  • 6 March, 2021: Finished reading
  • 7 March, 2021: Reviewed