Hollow Empire (Poison War #2) – Sam Hawke

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Pages: 559
Release Date: December 1, 2020

Haven’t read the previous novel? Check out my review of City of Lies HERE!

Moving from poison and treachery to war and witchcraft, Sam Hawke’s Poison Wars continue with Hollow Empire, a fabulous epic fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Robin Hobb, Naomi Novik, and Scott Lynch.

Poison was only the beginning…. The deadly siege of Silasta woke the ancient spirits, and now the city-state must find its place in this new world of magic. But people and politics are always treacherous, and it will take all of Jovan and Kalina’s skills as proofer and spy to save their country when witches and assassins turn their sights to domination.


Hollow Empire opens up the world as readers dive into the political machinations now afoot two years after the events of City of Lies. Jovan and Kalina was still responsible for the safety of the leaders, though despite their efforts and successes in City of Lies, doubt still surrounds them.

What I enjoyed most about Hollow Empire was the widening of the world and the expansion of the magic system. Readers are introduced to a variety of different leaders and diplomats as the story kicks off with a celebration with hopes of cementing more allies. Readers are treated to the more nuanced political discussions through Kalina’s perspective while Jovan’s perspectives gives readers a look into the seedier parts of the city.

Though it took me longer than usual to finish, I couldn’t get enough of the this world and the characters. Jovan, Kalina, and Tain’s personal and professional relationships are easily the best part of the novel. Surrounded by uncertainty, they can always rely on each other. The ramifications from the previous novel are readily apparent, if you know what to look for.

I would have loved a couple chapters from Hadrea’s perspective. This would have allowed readers a fuller and better understanding of the magic system as it feels underdeveloped.

The reason I rated the novel four stars instead of five is because I thought the ending was rushed. If this a duology (if I’m not mistaken) then the entirety of the plot was resolved in 50 pages. Though those 50 pages were satisfying, it wasn’t enough to conclude the story, especially since the ultimate villain and their origin weren’t fleshed out at all. 

Overall, Hollow Empire is a fantastic sequel and conclusion to this duology. Though I wish the magic system and villain were expanded upon further, Poison War offers readers plenty of mystery and political intrigue to keep them reading into the night.


Have you read Hollow Empire? What did you think?

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