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.
This is by far, one of the best series I've read (heard) in quite a while!
As I said, don't let the cover deceive you!
Couldn't wait for the 3rd book to come out, which it did, on the 15th of this month. I burned through it in 4 days! And have currently started it from the beginning again.
Great author, great narrator, great story!
Excellent books, all!
Create a real world rather than copying other authors. Distinct shadows of all Dune books old and new and The Game of Thrones.The island training is so similar to Duncan Idaho's Sword Master training. The monk's training smacks of Paul's training in Dune. The repeating of phrases...Dune again. The constant use, of "Fuck" George R R Martin should be proud. The placement of women has last class??? again Martin!!!
No...just not original enough.
Simon Vance performs the Dune books. Interesting that he was selected to perform these. Not a great fan of Simon's, the monotone just never ends.
Possibly return this Audible purchase. Shall relisten before making that decision.
This story had so much potential, but the world is just not original. If possible and my opinion changes with another listen, I'll correct this review.
A trilogy. Say it in three. Done.
This is the first book of an epic fantasy trilogy, set in a Japanese-type medieval culture. It's told in 3rd person, with the POV limited to the Emperor's three children, ages 17, 18, and 21. He calls them his blades. Hence the title.
I would rate the contents PG 16. Violence with tons of bloody gore. No sex, but foul language includes lots of F-bombs and crude sexist language, especially in the Kettral Training Grounds. At times, it was all a bit much.
Good book, despite some quibbles. For a nice change of pace, the magic is atypical. Leaches are born with the ability to draw power from a particular element (like Butcher's Codex Alera). There are ancient portals for traveling long distances, created by the gods (yes, gods play a fairly big role). We also get huge birds with an 80-foot wingspan, trained to fly warriors into combat, similar to Temeraire -- His Majesty's Dragon. (But unlike Novik, Stavely failed to make these birds seem real to me, because he never showed them cold, hungry, thirsty — eating, drinking, sleeping, etc.)
Then they are the nearly immortal Csestriims, a pre-human race, amazingly intelligent and utterly without emotion (see prologue). These Csestriims want to wipe out humanity, similar to the Cyber-race in Battlestar Galactica.
I like the length. Excessively long fantasy novels are not my thing. This series is fairly dark and sad, but also promising, with an engrossing plot. Stavely offers a measured blend of action, dialogue, and interaction. Some internal reflection, but not too much. I enjoyed the proverbs from the monastic Shin (Zen) masters and the quotes from the Book of War.
Scenes transition nicely, without jitterbug leapfrogging (Yay!). Chapters transition from Kaden, studying at the Shin monastery in the Bone Mountains at the edge of the world, to Valyn on the Qirrin Islands, striving to become a Kettral (a black-ops elite warrior who travels on a huge kestrel-like raptor), to the eldest sibling, 21-year-old Adare, the first female finance minister, working in the capital city. When their father suddenly dies, life is never the same for the three, and the race is on to save the Unhewn Throne.
I was afraid all the adults in the book would be incompetent or evil — as many of them were. That would be a total turn off. For credibility, a few adults showed courage and sense.
The map in the e-book is blurry but the author has a sharper image on his blog site. There is an appendix of information about the various gods in the book.
Narration by Simon Vance is nearly perfect but some voices sound too much the same.
It was OK. The narrator does a good job most of the time, although I feel that he sometimes fails to properly adjust voices to moods, and some characters have weird accents. The monks were easily the most well voiced characters overall. Some characters also sound the same, but a man can only have so many altered voices in his repertoire, so that can be forgiven!
But the problem I had was... I never felt really invested in the characters. They were pretty flat, and for most of the time, nothing noteworthy really happened. I also felt they were all... almost the same? Very same-ish? For a book completely about the fate of the Emperors Children, I didn't care at all what happened to any of them.
For having both been included in highly strict/disciplinary orders from a very young age, both of the sons are really disobedient. Especially the lad training with the 'elite' regiment- why would they ever tolerate so much disobedience, why aren't the soldiers semi-brainwashed into following all orders?
And each time there's a chapter with the girl, all she does is tell herself "I'm going to play this calm and cool" and then has an emotional, unstable outburst to fuck things up. Every damn chapter.
Probably not. I didn't like this, and I've seen other reviews hailing this as some amazing thing, so I'm not stoked.
I loved him in Dune, and liked him here. He's not very good at female voices, but he really nails some of the older males, especially the monks and overall I think he has more than sufficient immersion to bring the characters to life.
Maybe my disappointment is bigger because I had this book hyped up for me, which is why I'm surprised it was so... bland. Just full of tiresome cliches. The worldbuilding doesn't feel convincing.
It was confusing at first, we were given a brief glimpse at something that had no real context. If you let yourself get past this confusion the author explains it. Not in a concrete way, but it is understandable if you remember it when Kaden, the Monk in charge and Tan talk about Csestriim. His delay in mentioning it sooner might have made it harder to connect the two.
The only slightly frustration was when the narrator was using voices some of the changes between the monks and the Kettral veterans sounded the same to me.
In the end I would recommend the book. I am off to listen to the second one in the trilogy.
Overall I thought the characters were flawed like people are supposed to be. The plots engaging and made one want to listen to the end to see where the author was taking us. The interactions between characters held a nice degree of complexity yet were simple in their feel, even with the conflict between them. If you get the book give a a chance beyond the confusion of the prolonged and you can find the gem beyond.
This book got off to such a great start. I had really high hopes which gradually dimmed with each successive chapter. Little things started to annoy and add up to the point where they direct all my focus and erode my enjoyment of the story.
The story is a fantasy sword piece told from the three POVs of the Emperors children who are young adults near the ends of their varied training. One is training as an elite commando type warrior, another a zen like monk, and the third as a politician/diplomat. The world build is incomplete but interesting nonetheless. A sinister plot is afoot and they are all soon in jeopardy from a mysterious source. The stage is set. I'm intrigued. So far so good.
Then the plot just bogs down. The middle section just drags. Endless drawn out training sessions which became rather extreme and non believable in their severity. The author is quite fond of long rambling introspection from his characters. Angst, self doubt, feelings of unworthiness...etc, etc. It grows tiring. A good bit of editing could have fixed this.
And then there are the YAish fantasy cliches. The Draco Malfoy character who is a total sociopath yet nobody except the protagonist seems to mind one bit. Really? Everyone would hate that jerk. The plot twists become very predictable. The lead characters trust all the wrong people and suspect the people who are really on their side. They blunder into obvious traps. They get their "superpowers" in sudden epiphanies at just the right time under tremendous stress. Another pet peeve is the repetitive use of stupid sounding fake curse words. Kent Kissing? Holy Hull? Shale Spawn? And yet they drop F-bombs once in a while. Just stick to one system already. F-bombs work just fine and aren't silly sounding.
The conclusion is anything but. Almost nothing is wrapped up. We have no idea why or who was behind the whole plot. Really nothing at all is revealed. After 18+ hours of listening. Frustrating. I know it's a trilogy but if your goal is to have one really long book then just make it a really long book and not a trilogy. Each book in a good trilogy should have a meaningful conclusion of it's own. As an example, Brandon Sanderson does a great job of this in his books.
Some of us may not want to read the rest of it. I'm on the fence on continuing. It feels like I am being manipulated into doing so due to so many unresolved plot lines, ie all of them.
Awesome plot details and hooks, the world is filled with inventive, interesting and believable depth.
Unfortunately, every woman (and they are in leading roles) is either a sex object or dismissed.
"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!
"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!
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.
"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.
"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
"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!
"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!
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