Empire of Silence is the story of Hadrian Marlowe, a minor noble who becomes something very different. The book’s blurb calls him a hero who eliminated an alien enemy and a monster who destroyed a sun. Empire of Silence is not that story.
Instead, it’s a meandering walk through an early phase of his life as young Hadrian Marlowe tries to escape his noble father’s plan to turn him into an agent of the inquisition. We follow Hadrian through a period of destitution, a term as a gladiator slave, and as a minor courtier to a noble family. Only in the last few chapters do we see him deal with the aliens. The book ends with Hadrian embarking on the voyage that will (presumably) lead to the cataclysmic confrontation with the aliens.
The book is set in a decadent empire that spans the galaxy, similar to Dune; it’s easy to imagine the first two-thirds of the book taking place in a small corner of the same empire that Paul Atreides confronts.
It fits most closely with epic fantasy rather than sword-and-sorcery; Empire of Silence weighs in at 763 pages, yet it is merely book 1 of 5. The pacing and overall story structure are closer to Brandon Sanderson than REH or even Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I enjoyed it, and I will probably read the next book in the series at some point. I’m not likely to reread this one or dig into it for deeper study.