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.
No. This story could easily have been shorter with a small loss of depth at most.
The story is interesting and the world engaging with a rich history. At times elements, mainly cultures, are heavy handily drawn directly from the real world with only the thinnest of changes to gloss it over at places but it doesn't overly detract.
The story is told much more like several separate stories in one. This is common enough, different characters in different places slowly coming together through the negative. Only they don't in this. Not really. The death of the emperor, talked about in the books description, happens immediately prior to the novel beginning. We follow the news as it effects the world and the lives of the three children of the emperor. Though these characters thing about the others they almost entirely don't interact. Each is spread across a continent and dealing with their own lives. All together this makes the book feel very, very much like a lead in to the series rather than a story in it's own right.
I loved this book. There are times when the details were overwhelming. So I had to read some sections twice to absorb the detail. I am glad I did because it is used later in scene setup and understanding the concern. One character was killed and I balled. I do not know I was rooting for this character until they were gone. There is depth in these characters. I hope there was a small prequel book.
Eye of the Mighty Critic
I did. I tried the second in the series, and it wasn't any better.
He likes hurting women. I rant about it more in my review of the sequel, but it's here, too. He likes killing, raping, hurting, and generally mistreating women. I say "he likes" because I can come up with no other reason. He's an author, he has a choice when it comes down to what awful things he'll do to characters. He's not forced to treat them this way, he chose it. He though that it would make a better story, or appeal to his desired audience. He made this a book involving a lot of violence against women. The same sort of violence is never brought against his men. It's clear that Staveley is in the George R.R. martin school of fantasy writing where everything is awful and women are property. He tries, he really does, to write some strong women, but they have limited agency and require men to do much of anything. There's no excuse for this kind of crap (and the first person to say "but it was like that!" can go look up the meaning of "fantasy"), and I'm tired of this type of fantasy writing.
It's Simon Vance. What isn't there to like?
While it wouldn't surprise me to see this adapted, what with Game of Thrones, but please, oh please, don't do it. Stop perpetuating this nonsense.
TL;DR, skip this series, no matter what you've heard. It's full of misogyny and awful people.
I enjoyed the drama and the mystery behind the plot, but I do wish the female characters were stronger. It made me wonder if the author knows any truly strong women.
Other than that, the performance was great. I felt the trials of the characters.
This series is awesome beyond belief. I finally finished all three and can say I am very happy with what he has done.
Mr. Staveley does a great job of making the bad guys feel like the kind of bad guy you need to die, but need to live. The scale of the battle happening in the minds of the leaders dwarfs all that you see on the battle field.
I am halfway through this first volume of the trilogy and the excellent narration of Simon Vance makes it entertaining enough to want to continue. However, if I were reading this in printed form, I might have already put the book down.
The prose itself is fine, but so far the plot is dependent on the illogical (and basically stupid) behavior of almost everyone. I find nothing believable about the whole situation or how the characters react, and this makes it impossible for me to become immersed in the story.
It seems to me that the author had an overarching idea of an interesting plot, but didn't make an effort to think of and add details that would sufficiently account for many of the happenings. Some examples of things that irked me because they weren't explained or made believable:
* Why would an emperor send his two sons off to training for years and years where their lives would be in constant danger and where they would learn nothing about the empire or how to rule it?
* Why would the "classmates" and "masters" of these boys, knowing that they may become the next emperor, want to treat them with special scorn and derision?
* Even accepting the fact that one of the lads has to learn a special ability from the monks that will protect the empire, why is this such a big secret?
* When one prince discovers 2 murders, why doesn't he report them? (The sole explanation given is "oh dear, I can't trust anyone".)
* Why do the monks withhold information from the prince that would prevent him from putting his life in danger?
I think that with a little more thought and effort on the part of the author, this story could have been improved upon immensely.
The writer came up with an original story and interesting characters but was incapable of having them develop at all. Every time you thought they might grow, they didn't. Instead, they spent their time accidentally thinking in their heads for too long while people waited on them to respond to a basic question. They've all been training for years to be the best at their field and yet it's like they are complete novices that have learned nothing. I wanted to love this book and managed to stick around to the end but it just never improved and I left feeling like I'd wasted my time completely.
"An enjoyable setting of scene"
Really enjoyed the story and performance. Characters well crafted and story is promising. Easy listen with good narration. I'm excited to see what else is in store.
Only criticism is maybe that there was a whole lot of scene setting and not a great deal happened, having said that I was gripped by the story and like the direction it takes. There is some conclusion which makes the end satisfying but leaves enough doors open to make me want to read more.
A really good start in my opinion.
Bring on the providence of fire!
I bought this book mainly because of the narrator. Who was, as expected, excellent. However the story was brilliant. The characters are really well written and brought to life. Can't praise this book enough.
"Three different blades, one great story"
Definitely. The Emperor has three children, each of whom live distant from each other, in three distinct areas. The lore and background for each area is very interesting, and you discover more as the story progresses.
There is plenty of battling, laughter, treachery and twists, all of which kept me listening. Really, you never know what is going to happen next, so its hard to put those earphones down.
None spring to mind.
The battle with the Skullsworn.
Kadens thought as he trained as a monk moved me to laughter several times. Simon Vance does a good job with some deadpan narrations which me laugh.
A particular death was sad as well, but I don't wish to give away any spoilers.
Just finished book 1, buying book 2 right now. You can't give a much better recommendation than that!
"Just not that good."
I found this book a real up hill struggle, I tried to enjoy it but i just couldn't, the pacing felt wrong and it's as though the author wanted you to be completely aware that this is only the first book in the series. At times the story started to get interesting as if it was building to something but for it to go nowhere. i was beginning to feel like i was Kaden getting punished in the Monastery.
Princess Adare by along way. Unfortunately she only gets a few chapters throughout the entire book but they added an intrigue and twist which makes you want to keep reading.
I didn't enjoy his performance. The book was tiresome enough without needing flat toned samey characterizations. It made the characters hard to differentiate from at times.
I personally didn't appreciate this book and i enjoy a lot of fantasy novels.I really don't mind the tried and tested story line of a murdered Emperor with his defencless young child or children in this case growing into heros/anti-heroes before taking on the bad guys for justice/revenge, but to start with the characters weren't that memorable and for all the talk about how good the world building is most of the book its spent in a desolate mountain and a small island with nothing of note that stands out. Hardly Steven Erikson, G.R.R Martin or Joe Abercrombie standard. Another point is the torturous pacing. Yes i know it's the first book but there are plenty of trilogies that have fantastic openers that keep you gripped .As an example look no further than 'The Blade itself' ''The Name of the wind' and 'Tower Lord' to name but a few.I could go on but if you've found this useful and have the same taste as i do you've probably made up your mind by now.
"An epic tale worth every minute..."
The story follows three children of an Emperor, all in their own settings being prepared to enter into the Empire's service. The oldest son lives in a monastery, preparing to be the new Emperor and learn secrets believed to be long forgotten. The younger son trains as an elite soldier and commander while the daughter works as a minister in the government. When the Emperor is killed and they are being persecuted by people wanting the dead too, they have to unravel the plot using their special abilities, independent of each other.
The author has a good way of describing things, without tearing them to part with words. The plot is excellent and thrilling, not too fast paced but it gives an urge to want to know more! Really entertaining and yet no great wars or misery like most epic fantasy tales.
A well written, well thought through and well narrated romp. Avoids cliches and keeps you guessing...most of the time. Well worth it. I'm on to number two!
"An excellent first book in a fantasy series"
Original plot, with excellent narration. A gripping story that leaves you keen to crack on with the next book in the series. Highly recommended to fans of epic fantasy with a more mature twist such as books by Joe Abercrombie
"A bit slow to get into but well worth the wait"
Really enjoyed this book, found it a bit slow to start with, but following the three family members and there wildly different roles within the story kept the book interesting, unlike some books iv listened to the junctions between the three main characters was well timed and the narrator did a very good job of the voice acting. I enjoyed the different twists and turns the story took, and a few even caught me out which is always a bonus. really looking forward to the next instalment!
"Fun and entertaining"
Interesting story and set up. The three heroes all with different yet complimentary skills works well. The storyline ends well with enough unanswered questions to make me go and get the next book!
"Aggressively mediocre, but then so is my life."
Though generic, Stavely's plotting and world-building are solid, but the novel is plagued by dull stock characters, anachronistic prose, and an unwillingness to commit to either Abercrombian grimdarkness or sanitized Hunger Games-style YA, instead trying and failing to strike a balance between the two. On top of that, much of the dialogue is so cringe-worthy that not even the delightful Simon Vance can salvage it, though you couldn't say he doesn't try.
However if you're really craving something in which people hit each other with swords and an ancient evil may or may not awaken, this is a passable way to kill a bunch of hours, and the sequel, "The Providence of Fire," is a vast improvement, rewarding you for sticking with the series.
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