This is the first book in the Shadows of the Apt series, a 10 book set (and not small books either). My plan is to give a brief review on the blog for each book in the series and do the main review for the series as a whole when I'm done.
The world here is a world at the start of its' industrial age but also a world on the brink of war. Thanks to the industrial revolution angle we get to see a slightly different world to what we usually get with this type of story and also the introduction of things like mechanical transporters, railways, airships and the likes (giving it a steampunk/fantasy hybrid feel at times)
The big selling point though are the races of man. Each different race shares characteristics with an insect so you have, for example, Beetle kinden, Spider kinden, Dragonfly kinden, each with different abilities, I expected to maybe struggle with this at first but they are written in such a way that it all feels natural.
The characters develop well throughout the course of the book (and they have to grow up quickly as Mr Tchaikovsky really puts them through the wringer at times)
As the first book in a series 'Empire' sets things up nicely with more or less non stop action and a nice lead into book 2. I have high hopes for Shadows of the Apt and, having started book 2, I see no reason to doubt that this will become a series held up there with the 'fantasy classics' in time