Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Emperor's Blades - a review

The Emperor's Blades
The Unhewn Throne Book One
By Brian Staveley

The circle is closing. The stakes are high. And old truths will live again . . .

The Emperor has been murdered, leaving the Annurian Empire in turmoil. Now his progeny must bury their grief and prepare to unmask a conspiracy. His son Valyn, training for the empire's deadliest fighting force, hears the news an ocean away. He expected a challenge, but after several 'accidents' and a dying soldier's warning, he realizes his life is also in danger.

Yet before Valyn can take action, he must survive the mercenaries' brutal final initiation. Meanwhile, the Emperor's daughter, Minister Adare, hunts her father's murderer in the capital itself. Court politics can be fatal, but she needs justice. And Kaden, heir to an empire, studies in a remote monastery. Here, the Blank God's disciples teach their harsh ways - which Kaden must master to unlock their ancient powers. When an imperial delegation arrives, he's learnt enough to perceive evil intent. But will this keep him alive, as long-hidden powers make their move?
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You can go a long time reading fantasy novels, patiently waiting for the next book by a favored author to be released and hoping you come across a gem that you can add to your list of 'writers to look out for'. Brian Staveley has become one of those writers for me.

The Emperor's Blades is an impressive debut. Packed with strong characterisation and rich world-building that doesn't overwhelm, it paints a captivating tale of fate and consequence as the scions of a royal house are thrust unprepared into their inheritance and an ancient enemy makes their opening gambit in a bid to reclaim their world. Staveley weaves each point of view into an impressive tapestry that offers different angles by which he explores the history and culture of the setting while narrating a driving tale of coming of age and murder mystery.

I loved this book and devoured it over a couple of days. It is passionate, hopeful, heart-wrenching, thrilling, shocking and twists like an oil-covered eel. It is absolutely everything I love about epic fantasy and the perfect way to kick off a new year!

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