Brian Staveley's The Providence of Fire, the second novel in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, a gripping new epic fantasy series in the tradition of Brandon Sanderson and George R. R. Martin.
The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.
Having learned the identity of her father's assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, the people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy.
Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, renegade member of the empire's most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.
Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.
©2014 Brian Staveley (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
After the fantastic set up and world building of the first book, I expected better. Even in book one the portrayal of Adare was a tad misogynistic: an overly emotional woman with the self control of a seven year old. Her naïveté was believable then. But in book two it only gets worse. She apparently has virtually no self control in emotional events, and despite being smart and politically savvy enough to be the finance minister has all the character judgement of a rock. And despite having access to the best possible advisor in the world, and life changing events, has experienced zero character development.
Kaden and Valyn are more believable as characters, but with them the story advances solely through miscommunication. Apparently despite spending days or weeks with people they trust, they never get messages like "hey, that guy you want to talk to is an insane fanatic who will want to torture you for days."(Not that these other characters are believable either). Or they utterly fail to be able to express simple ideas to potential allies, such as "I did it all to save the emperor" and "that guy's a blood leech and I bet he's lying." It's all just more than I could handle.
Yes, the protagonists are basically kids, okay. But one of them was supposedly raised on politics at the center of power, but then has all the politics acumen of a white suburban teenager. And acts like a woman from a Dickens novel. The other two either refuse to share basic information for no apparent reason or aren't given critical and brain-dead obvious information except in the most obscure and circumcised terms.
And all of that leaves out the contradictions on fairly basic world building from the first book. For example, Kaden falls out of the vanyate (SP?) at the drop of a hat despite having to force himself out in the first book.
If the characters had been making honest mistakes on the tough choices in front of them, I would have been able to suspend my disbelief. But instead they learn nothing from the past and apparently don't get any information from the people who are supposed to be advising them.
Ponderous, deep, pleasant.
Disappointment. I like the characters, but their behavior doesn't match their personalities and the resulting plot it just not believable.
I was really looking forward to this book, but I couldn't even finish it, and I won't be buying the next one.
Bryan Staveley is great at creating interesting worlds and backstories. However, the logic or complete lack thereof by the main characters is just painful.
The writing was technically great. The narrator was fantastic as always. Having said that, the characters are too stupid. Of course, your protagonists have to be flawed and make some mistakes, but the stupidity he writes into some of the decision-making, especially the female lead, shatters the suspension of disbelief.
My name is Chris and I am an addict.
This book was not as enjoyable as the first, but still a good continuation of the story. The biggest gripe I had with the book was probably the lack of communication between characters, and how some characters believe that they are smarter than all the others. There are some good twists and preparation for the next book as well. I saw one of the main characters in this book make one bad decision after another, but I also saw others countering the characters decisions behind the scenes in a way. The only problem is that now I have to wait for the next book to see how it finally plays out, and I want to see some characters put in their places.
Could not finish it. Tried. Repeatedly too. Every plot line is driven by poor decisions over and over. Instead of actually having events occur endless description of the characters attempts at introspection and an endless need to over describe minutia.
I suffered my way through "The Emperors Blades" thinking that it may just be needed to set the story line. As far as I can tell, Brian Staveley is an excellent writer, he is however, really bad at his character continuity. Without giving away the story line, it just seems like the main characters have spent years learning a specific set of skills, from the very best instructors in the world, only to make the wrong choice at every given opportunity. They consistently go against advice from people they admit are more knowledgeable in the specific area in which they are going to perform. It NEVER works out for them. It might be written that way to enhance the drama of the story, but it just doesn't make sense. The characters are either hopelessly inept, or just downright confused.
The characters themselves seem to be well developed and worth reading about, I just wish that the story wasn't so easy to predict at every turning point.
Likes to listen while doing chores; likes to write reviews while he should be doing chores.
I was so hopeful after the first book. This was going to be one of those series where I actually put books on pre-order. I really liked where it was going. And then this happened. I don't know if Staveley was rushed to publication, or if he was told to cram a lot more stuff into the book to keep it lively, but this book doesn't make much sense.
Oh, there are some redeeming pieces. Staveley can check most of the blocks that go along with your basic fantasy novels. He has good fights, readable banter, surprises, and colorful atmosphere. I don't want to give him zero credit. He does those parts pretty well.
His major problem is that his characters are broken in a way that makes the story not make sense. I am not saying that he writes damaged characters intentionally like an alcoholic who acts perversely yet humanly. No, his characters are constantly doing things for no reason or for reasons they know to be false or just completely stupid. Sure, the scenes and outcomes are more dramatic, and what they do may fit for that scene, but they don't make sense to the rest of the story. I get it that characters often act contrary to their interests, it can build drama. This is understandable and completely forgivable in stories. It happens in real life all the time, but when every major character makes decisions like the drunkest freshman at a college party just to make that individual scene as striking as it can be, their motivations in the larger narrative fall apart. That is the problem with this installment. The author gets dramatic scenes that don't make sense when you try to string them together.
As this could be the sophomore doldrums, I might swing back around for the third book. But I won't be waiting breathlessly. I could just as well give this series up.
I consistently enjoy Simon Vance's readings. This narration was also strong.
Valen and cadan are interesting and have great development/struggles/strengths and weaknesses. Adera is painfully stupid. It was painful to listen to her chapters.
If I learn she's removed from the next book I'll buy it.
Using the F word 4-5 times in a chapter wouldn't bother me but using it every other word seems a bit much. A little pepper can season a dish but dumping the whole container on ruins the taste. Overall good story.
"The first book had some promise..."
I did and wasn't satisfied, so returned it. I think we live in an age where it is fashionable to make conflicted heroes/heroines/villains... Unfortunately most authors mistake conflicted, for contradictory or contrary. You end up with a selection of character paths that make no sense. Brian Staveley produces teen fantasy fiction, he's not George Orwell.
George Martin, Anthony Ryan, Patrick Rothfuss and Joe Abercrombie (Barring his Shattered Sea trilogy dross) handle conflicted and complex character building within well structured plots. Staveley is simply not as good as these guys and his plot direction seems to be built on a scene by scene foundation rather than an overarching tale, that is logically fitted together.
Simon Vance is the only constantly good thing in these books. Great narrator.
No. It repeatedly helped me fall asleep at night time, on the train... Anywhere I decided to stick it on really.
Some teens might enjoy this tale, but this really is just another example of poor plotting and character creation. Style over substance stuff really. At the end of day, i wish i could say that there was even a message in this slick slop, but there isn't...
"A Story Full of Idiots"
Not sure about Brian Staveley, but I would listen to Simon Vance narrate more books. Mr Vance's performance was the only high point of the entire thing.
He writes characters who are utter idiots.
While I enjoyed Simon Vance's performance, there wasn't really a character in the whole book who didn't aggravate me
No. I wouldn't imagine anyone bothering to make a movie or TV series out of this. But if they did the only cast I can think who might play the characters in the book are the Teletubbies or the Three Stooges. A Cast Of Idiots.
I really tried to like this series. At first I put the constant ill fortune, which seemed to dog the three main characters down to their youth, inexperience with the greater world, or as I said just ill luck. Then I realized that things weren't getting any better, and I started to realize that bad things were happening to them because they were too stupid to avoid the disasters that kept finding them, indeed they went looking for disasters to fall into. I have read other books (notably by Ed Greedwood) where the story consists of the characters stumbling from one fight to another with little real story to make it more interesting and less annoying. (fight scenes do not a story make). The book did have a reasonably good story line, with some interesting ideas. This did not however save the book from its main failing. The utter idiocy of the characters made it painful to endure. Simon Vance did a masterful job of reading, what I think is a very poor book. I don't think I'll bother with the final volume. I think I've suffered enough.
"Good story but...."
The beginning and the end were good but the endless battle in between just went on and on and on, becoming so confusing I didn't know who was fighting who. You get the idea. But, having said that it still held my interest enough to want to know what happens in the third book. Brilliant narrator though. I would definitely look for more audio books read by him.
"Great book, very gritty"
I really enjoyed the first book and have enjoyed this one. It is unrelentingly "gritty". I know this will appeal to some but for me it was a little too much and there are only so many descriptions of torture and physical and mental suffering that you want to hear on any given day. If I was reading I would have skimmed those bits but audio books make that difficult.
"A great sequel; promising for the next installment"
The book centres on three characters, all siblings, but it is the story of the two brothers that is most intriguing. Kaden and his use of the void state and Valyn and his dark gifts and their similar struggles against circumstance really hold the book's interest intact.
It reminds me of R Scott Bakker's series Prince of Nothing with respect to Kaden's emptiness and the multiple forces at play.
I know Simon's voice quite well and his tone and flow really lend themselves well to narrating.
I would have listened to in one go had I the time. The shift of storytelling between the three characters stops it becoming too sluggish in pace although Adare's storyline, were it not for the cackling old woman who liven's up her scenes, can be wearisome.
Worth a listen but you should buy the first installment The Emperor's Blades first.
A gripping, original story that keeps getting better as the series progresses. Would recommend to fans of Brent Weeks
I loved this book Brian Staveley certainly knows how to weave a story. I can't wait for next one.
Simon Vance narrated the story so well made it even more gripping.
"Great second instalment"
Lots of interesting and new things to learn
Keeps you wanting more
One of the best stories I have listened to
Hope the third book is out soon :)
This book was much better than the first one. Can't wait for the next installment.
"Much better than the first"
This book was much better than the first in his series. Looking forward to the third installment
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