In The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley, the emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.
Kaden, the heir to the Unhewn Throne, has spent eight years sequestered in a remote mountain monastery, learning the enigmatic discipline of monks devoted to the Blank God. Their rituals hold the key to an ancient power he must master before it's too late.
An ocean away, Valyn endures the brutal training of the Kettral, elite soldiers who fly into battle on gigantic black hawks. But before he can set out to save Kaden, Valyn must survive one horrific final test.
At the heart of the empire, Minister Adare, elevated to her station by one of the emperor's final acts, is determined to prove herself to her people. But Adare also believes she knows who murdered her father, and she will stop at nothing - and risk everything - to see that justice is meted out.
©2014 Brian Stavely (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
If you are angrily waiting the next Game of Thrones book, than The Emperor's Blades is your book. The story is often stronger and more relatable that George R. R. Martin's stuff. Plus Simon Vance's narration is fantastic as always.
While much of the world-building is somewhat unique, the consistently unappealing, unlikeable characters are tough to take through 3 books.
There are a couple of constants in this series (1) NO one trusts anyone else; so, lack of even the most obvious communication drives the plot from beginning to end and (2) the entire world seems built on a foundation of pain, suffering, killing, torture, horrible judgement, bad decisions etc etc etc. No joking when I say it nearly impossible to sympathize with any character.
The author also seems to have periods where he seems fixated with unnecessary activities - like peeling off scabs. Book 1 is the most interesting as it sets up the 3 siblings at the heart of the plot. Book 2 is entirely driven by the stupidity of those siblings. Book 3 redeems the story some, but veers too much toward making the villain(s) nearly omniscient. By hour 50+ of the series, you're just ready for it to end.
As far as stories goes, this has a very slow pace. It wasn't until the last few hours of the audiobook when the story really started to pick up and gain shape. Up until that point, there were just a multitude of cliché cliff hangers while the story switched from character to character.
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This is an amazing book. Its been awhile since I could get really excited about a series. The Emperor's Blades is outstanding in every way. Its very well written and is set in a sweeping and imaginative world. The characters are likable and surprisingly deep. The action in this book is both fantastic yet gritty and real. This book really grabbed me and got me swept up in the story. Overall, I think this is a must have.
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
HUNGER IS FLAVOR
Great beginning. You are there when the sheep whose brains have been scooped out is discovered. You are there as the Monk and the Warrior start training.
SQUINT HARD ENOUGH AND EVERYTHING LOOKS SUSPICIOUS.
Then the book turns into storytelling and we are no longer there. It all becomes past tense. It becomes boring.
I love scifi and fantasy. I've been reading the genre for over 35 years now. While this book is well written and fairly narrated, it was just depressing. I listened to the entire book and there isn't a single scene that is amusing or light. There are three main characters. One is learning at a monastery where extreme deprivation and even torture are used as teaching methods. An example is being buried standing up so that only your head is exposed and being left there for several days. Another character is learning to be a warrior but is being singled out for ridicule and deliberate belittling by the instructors, is trying to avoid being assassinated while he and his friends are being beaten up by the bullies. The third character is undermined in her political tasks by treachery and dismissal as a woman trying to do a man's job. Even though the three survive to the next novel there is no real feeling of celebration or joy...just constant setbacks and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. Don't worry, I've not given away any spoilers - what I've written is what you find in just about every fantasy novel but in the good ones, you are given something to be happy about and hope that the protagonists will do more than just survive, that they will win in the end. That hope is not presented in this book.
Simon Vance as always does a good job of narration.
I really enjoyed the book and will definitely be getting the next one. especially at the end I was sucked it and couldn't put it down. some of the twists were unexpected and they are good.
I would listen again, especially since it is so well narrated.
It seems unique to me.
There are too many favorites to pick one.
The moment when the new emperor learned of his status.
Simon Vance is a master narrator--I can't imagine how a person can have so many voices for all the characters. I originally got this book because he was the narrator. My delight was twofold when I loved the story.
Slow but good.
All of it.
What a dumb question.
I almost returned this book numerous times. The book took a while to get going and I made the mistake of giving the reviews too much credit. There are definitely times where the author could have just cut out large swaths of what was written but I will finish this series.
"A fantastic read for fans of grimdark fantasy"
I loved this book start to finish, brilliant and great narration. Can't fault it. The story rolled along at a great place and never left me bored. The plot twists and changes were dramatic enough to keep me listening and wanting more, the characters are well written and very interesting. All in all a great audiobook. Very highly recommended, well done Simon on the narration and well done Brian on a great book. I think I might have to own the books as well as the audiobooks. Superb.
When one of the main characters died
The differing voices
An Empire in turmoil, three siblings battle to save.
"a good start"
Start of a series so dont expect much closure but a good start all the same
Cannot get over how epic this story is. Well read, gripped from start to end. Second one ready to go!
"Great narration, good storyline"
The narration was brilliant. The storyline was not as good as I expected. I'm hoping the storyline improves over the following books and the first book was a scene setter
"Excellent Book and Narration"
This was my first Staveley book and it was excellent. This was also my first proper Vance book (apart from Dune, and that had loads of other narrators as well) and he was great. I'm going straight onto the 2nd book and hope the trilogy carries on in a similar, strong fashion. A few twists, but nothing mind-blowing. Some good action, but could have been bigger and bloodier. Good characters, likeable. The baddies could have been better. There was a bit of Harry Potter vs Malfoy going on, but... well, that particular pairing won't be an issue in following books :) All in all, book one was a great intro to the trilogy. On to book two!
A very promising beginning of an epic adventure. I found both the characters and the world they live in likable without being boring. the book is very much an introduction of plot and characters which serves to set the stage for future instalments of the series. Still, i enjoyed it all the way through and look forward to the next book. hopefully that will be read by the same narrator.
"Narrator is hard to get used too"
I've not finished this book yet but I'm finding it very hard to get into , the narrator is incredibly boring to listen to and I find my self losing concentration, the boring narration mixed with the lackluster pacing makes it a grind
"really not worth it. terrible performance"
I have listened to about 3 hours of this but I just can't deal with it. The performance is terrible; the reader has like 2 voices, which he insists upon using the same ones for characters who are talking to each other. don't bother.
"It's not bad"
Got story. Two main male characters are brilliant. Female character is shamefully dull. Narration is okay, though Vance's voices consist of about 4, Posh Male, husky Male, Female and Stereotypically Chinese, sometimes I lost track on who was talking because of the voices sounding so similar. The story was fun and had a good development to it.
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