Read The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley Online


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’ anThe 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?...

Title : The Emperor's Blades
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780765336408
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 480 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Emperor's Blades Reviews

  • Julio Genao
    2019-03-06 12:34

    welp.1. hella anachronisms. like "concrete" used as a metaphor for "solid." as though they have industrial chemical engineering in this universe? (see the thoughtful comments for how i'm wrong and how i'm right for being annoyed about this) but the funniest was "the smart money," like there's a las vegas betting-line in this universe also.2. repetition. a book this big, they're bound to miss some, but sometimes it was the same hundred-word thing explained in the exact same terms two chapters later because the chapter in between was in a different POV and what if we forget?3. how are you gonna write these fucking gigantic, militarized birds that define this particular military order we spend most of the book following, but not properly describe them until, like, 68 percent into the book? (it's the beaky smudge in the misty background of the cover, in case you were wondering.)4. this one's hardly a surprise, given the recent history of the great american doorstopper—but man, what a disappointingly het male gaze. every woman's body is lavishly described (unlike those bigassed birds). also, they're always either hysterical or cold as ice—from princesses to assassins to whores, i shit you not, if they are female, they are either super-upset or frigid—but either way, an aaaaaaawful lot of words go into speculating about their bodies. as a result, i swear i know what every titty in this book looks like.5. all three heroes spent the majority of the story as dumb as cows despite having things explained to them at length by people with a conversational grasp of three millennia of world history, for pages and pages at a time. this one scene, a thing one of them had eight years to wonder about didn't even occur to him until right before it became a big ol' plot point.6. there's a badass gay person in it, but the way they're written... sorry, it reads like this author thought he was doing somebody a favor. when other characters find out, they're like WAIT WUT IDGI WHAT IS GAY OMG IS LIKE ANCIENT SORCERY??? also, The Gay is female, so of course i am exquisitely aware of her lovely, slim, girlish figure and COLD AS ICE demeanor. and 'm telling you there's no way she doesn't totally still want the D—fistbump, brah!*7. speaking of slim: dude—whaaaaaaaaaat is with the fatphobia? why is every chubby fuck in the book a repulsive villain or gleeful apparatchik of corruption? well—to be fair—there was this one fat kid who seemed pretty nice and not that disgusting at all, except we didn't get to know him very well on account of (view spoiler)[HIS EXISTING ONLY TO BE INCONVENIENTLY OUT OF SHAPE DURING A GETAWAY AND THUS BRUTALLY MURDERED BY MEANS OF HAVING HIS FAT THROAT SLIT SO AS TO ALLOW THE SLIM KIDS TO ESCAPE UNENCUMBERED BY HIS DANGEROUS FATNESS. (hide spoiler)]8. no—literally, u gaiz—i do not exaggerate. that was literally and actually a thing written in this literal and actual book.9. if a crucial plot point requires a person to be "knocked-out" by a single blow to the head like in an Indiana Jones movie, you have failed. if a crucial plot point requires several persons be thusly concussed all in a row, and then conveniently revived by firm slaps to the face a minute later, you should probably never write anything else again write several sequels because my people at Tom Doherty and Associates love that shit, apparently.nice try. some fun bits.but i spent most of this book hissing in irritation or rolling my eyes so hard i could see my own visual cortex.finally, if you think i'm just a crab paerson with a catastrophic limbic disorder, feel free to have a look to to see what some completely separate and no doubt chaaaaaaarming reviewer not named Julio The Terrible had to say (in fewer snarky words and with concrete excerpts from the text, natch) in a far more accomplished review clearly penned by a person who has far more patience, far fewer anger issues, and faaaaaaar more dignity than i.__________* and lest you think me unnecessarily vicious in my characterization of that scene: (view spoiler)[that's basically how it went. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Navessa
    2019-03-23 09:36

    Rabid Fangirl Mode: ACTIVATEDHave you ever read a book that’s so far above all others that it makes you want to go change your ratings for everything else you’ve ever read in that genre? Yeah, that. I had a huge review for this written and ready to go. I talked about the incredible characterization, the complexity of the plot, the gorgeous writing, and the mind blowing way that they were all executed. And you know what? I can’t post it. It doesn’t do this book justice. So for now, I’ll say this:Some authors are simply writers; they take words and put them down on the page. Some authors are poets; they take those words and twist them around into beautiful prose. Then some authors, like this author, are weavers. They take those words and that beautiful prose and work them into immensely complicated storylines. These lines become the thread with which they knit their books into creation. They stitch them to and fro as they weave a literary tapestry and while reading, you get mere glimpses of the pattern they’re creating. Only at the end is the grand design revealed, and when it is, you can do nothing but sit back and wonder at the beauty in front of you. Thank you, Mr. Staveley, for reminding me of ALL the reasons that I love to read. This book kept me on the edge of my seat. This book gave me actual adrenaline rushes. This book was unputdownable. This book blew my fucking mind. Favorite Fantasy book of the year...maybe even ever.More to come if I can figure out some way to do this justice.This review can also be found at The Alliterates.

  • Petrik
    2019-03-08 04:41

    Buddy read withThe Queen of the Unhewn Throne, Melanie. Thank you Mel for such an amazing BR, you made my reading experience much better! :)Before I start my review, feast your eyes upon the gorgeous books cover of this trilogy!To be honest, when starting this book, I knew next to nothing about ‘The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne’ trilogy other than the gorgeous covers it have and some great praises from my trusted friends on Goodreads. That’s enough to made me enthusiastic about reading the trilogy and it’s suffice to say that The Emperor’s Blade, Brian Staveley’s debut work managed to meet my expectation differently. Brian used to teach history, religion and philosophy for 10 years before writing this debut novel and it’s really evident from the book that he knows his material strongly. The story, like a place in the book called Hook manage to hooked (see what I did there?) me right from the first three chapters. The fact that the narrative is written in my favorite type of perspective really helps, it’s written from 3rd person limited, which means we get to see all events without making the main characters devoid of feelings. Like almost every high fantasy series, the plot started out quite simple, this time with each of the Emperor’s Blades sent away to train in different areas of the world by the Emperor himself for the future of the Annurian Empire. Of course, an unforeseen event (it’s written in the blurb if you want to know) happened and things spiraled out of control. This is where the story really began and I’ll leave the rest for you to find out but the book is an adult military high fantasy filled with philosophy, faith, politics, conspiracies, mystery and especially coming of age aspects depending on whose perspective you’re reading from and in my opinion, they’re all ‘Kent-kissing’ great to read.While it’s true that the plot for me is intriguing, it needed to be said the pacing is really slow at times. Now, this doesn’t bother me at all since I find what the main characters experienced really captivating, especially Kaden. However, in terms of the pacing itself, the book reminded me a lot of The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. Meaning the first book is more like a buildup for the sequels even though a lot of plot introduced in it are resolves already.The Emperor’s Blades, as you probably can guess already are The Emperor’s three offspring and the three main characters of the story. Imo the world-building aspect and the characters are the most important point of this book and whether or not you’re going to enjoy it will depends on how much you love them since the plot is really character and world-driven. Throughout the whole book we’ll be following the story only from the POV of the 3 main characters, Kaden, Valyn & Adare.Kaden, (17 years old) the youngest son and the Heir to the Unhewn Throne which were sent away to train with the Shin monks in the mountains. Frankly, this is the first time I ever read anything from a POV of a monk and I find it a refreshing experience to read. Usually, in cases like this the heir to the throne will be someone who learned or strong in politics accompanied with charismatic presence, Kaden is none of these. His POV is where most of the religious philosophical aspect of the book came to play the most. The teaching of the monks itself resembled Buddhism a lot with a few twist on their methods of training and punishments but above all they value discipline, calmness, and vaniate (think of this as a state of emptiness) the most. Some interesting character development happened to Kaden throughout his story and judging from how the plot ends in this entry, there’s a lot of potential for his development in the sequels.“Fear is blindness, calmness is sight.”Valyn, (18 years old) the second son which were sent away to train with the Kettral, the deadliest fighting force in the Annurian Empire and personally, my favorite POV in the book. The front cover to the Hungarian edition of The Emperor’s Blades featuring Valyn hui’Malkeenian and a kettral at the backValyn’s POV is imo, the best out of the three. It’s engaging, full of mysteries, well paced and even though the plot focused mostly on his training to become a Kettral, it remains captivating. His POV is where the military fantasy aspect and a huge amount of wise philosophical quotes existed. “Leadership isn't just about giving orders. A fool can give orders. A leader listens. He changes his mind. He acknowledges mistakes.”Flying giant birds called kettral for war and transportation, usage of magic, realistic and unique military training, conspiracies, assassination, forming a team called Wings and accompanied with really well written side female characters, Ha Lin, Gwenna, Annick, everything in his POV just works really well for me. Plus the fact that out of the trio, Valyn have the most highlight here which makes his characters more developed compared to the others.Finally, Adare (21 years old), the first daughter and the only one who remained in Annur to maintain the politics of the Empire. Now, this is the main cons of the book for me. No, it’s not because she’s a bad character, the politics are greatly written and it’s thrilling while it’s there. However, it’s because that she has only literally 5 chapters out of 50 which bothers me, not to mention they are all really short. Even though this is still the first book and I know there will be huge parts coming for her in the sequels, it still doesn’t justify the reason she has very few parts compared to the others. This make her really undeveloped and more of a side character compared to other female characters in Valyn’s POV, which have much more development and intrigue compared to her because of this circumstances.Brian Staveley has done a terrific job on his writings and world-building. The writings, consisting of some heavy words remain pleasant to read, humorous (mostly crude sex jokes), and the paragraphs are well structured. The world building aspects are done with a touch of Asian culture and it’s implemented gradually together with the plot. This means there is no info dump and we learn more and more of the world with each chapter. 3 races, 16 Gods, monsters, magic, mythology and legends are all introduced carefully along with the plot, need I say more?Now on to the other cons of the book, other than the main problem I had with Adare’s really short chapters, the other minor problems I have with the book is in its naming and climax. Some of the names in this book are hard to remember and pronounce, combined with the fact there are a LOT of new names and terminology needed to be memorize, it made some parts confusing and take times to get used to. However, the worst part is the BAD naming, here’s an example of what I’m talking about, Kettral. I mentioned earlier that Valyn is training to become a Kettral, the deadliest force of the Annurian Empire and yes, Kettral is a great name and memorable but it’s the fact that the giant bird the Kettral ride is literally called –guess what?- kettral (without the capital letter) as well that became an annoyance for me. This may be a minor peeves of mine but it gets really confusing and annoying at first. Imagine this kind of conversation (not a direct quote)“A Kettral needs to ride a kettral to be a fully fledged Kettral. Without kettral, Kettral is nothing. His kettral is what makes him a Kettral.”Why can’t it be named anything else other than that? Why can’t it be named Kettrul or Kettrol? This is just an example of a kind of bad naming I’m talking about. Hopefully this won’t bother you that much as it did for me.Lastly, the last con of the book is that I find the climax a bit underwhelming. It’s not bad, I just expected more out of it. The actions in the climax is more or less the same as some of the actions happening in the book previously except that it’s longer but not long enough. Personally I find the Hull’s Trial that Valyn’s faced to be a better sequence compared to the climax of the book.Although The Emperor’s Blades are inflicted with some minor problems, it still remains a ‘Kent-kissing’ great debut by Brian Staveley. It's obvious how Brian’s staveley previous major really played a huge part in delivering this quality. After closing the last page, I can’t wait to dive straight into the sequel, The Providence of Fire. There are a lot of foundation laid out for the sequel and it’s safe to say, the quality of the book doesn’t disappoint the gorgeous book covers it have.Booknest

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
    2019-03-19 10:25

    I better love this because my dad bought it for me and girls of all ages want to love a book their dad bought! ❤️**Okay, so it wasn't a 5 start review but I still liked the book. I will admit the book is full of a lot of arseholes that are evil! I really hope I will enjoy the next two books in the trilogy! I want to see what's going to happen with this family!! And I'm sure the books will be full of more evil arseholes. Oh, and I want to have my own bird to ride 😄Just sayin' Mel ❤️

  • Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads
    2019-03-06 06:27

    Reviewed by: Rabid ReadsApologies in advance for the length, but it couldn't be helped. I loved and hated parts of this book equally . . . and that means long. *shrugs awkwardly*Our story opens with a horrific prologue in which a bunch of immortal Vulcans-on-steroids (meaning they don't respect other lifeforms) are exterminating their "diseased" children b/c they're:1. Afflicted with the physical "rot" of age.2. Brains are likewise rotting b/c FEELINGS.Basically, b/c they're human.Fast forward a few thousand years (far enough that the unaging race of logic monsters is nothing more than a myth), and our story is mostly told from the alternating perspectives of two brothers, both the sons of the Emperor, both sent away as boys to train, but to different places, for entirely different purposes.Kaden, the heir, is sent to live with a bunch of monks. Presumably to learn discipline, humility, etc.When we meet him, he's on year eight of the ten assigned, and b/c I'm a fool of a Took, I didn't immediately make the connection between the "emptiness," taught by the monks and the aforementioned logic monsters . . . Suffice it to say, I was more than a little bit disturbed that our future leader was being groomed by a bunch of religious CRAZIES zealots, whose main goal was to achieve a twisted version of Enlightenment. (As it turned out, there was a good reason, but I didn't know that then.)And that was on top of the brain-eating monster SPIDERS that had recently begun to plague the livestock.Now would be a could time to discuss a couple of my PEEVES:1. I hate structured religious orders in fantasy. They're boring. Warrior Priests, Paladins, etc. are bad enough, but these guys don't even fight. It's like being stuck in some Buddhist monastery, but without the childlike simplicity and joy of the Dalai Lama, b/c these monks are all about the corporeal punishment.2. I HATE SPIDERS. ALL spiders. Even the ordinary teeny, tiny brown ones. How do I feel about giant (maybe INTELLIGENT) brain-eating spiders?SO. A lot of personal hurdles for me (more later).Fortunately, Valyn's POV seemed more my style . . . It started well enough--I do love my assassins, so being stuck on the Assassin Island of Training (which just happens to be right next to Outlaw/Pirate Island) was an excellent break from the monotony monastery.And as frustrating as it was, I appreciated that Valyn wasn't the BEST. He's been beaten bloody "dozens of times" by Yurl, the superior fighter and Bad Guy. He was soundly defeated in his pre-Trial match. He's resigned to lose to Annick in his sniper test, b/c he recognizes that she's better than he is. Such obstacles should allow his intelligence, his ability to strategize, the "leadership" potential we keep hearing about shine . . . BUT. Instead, he seems emotional and prone to drawing rash conclusions.Which brings me to my next peeve . . . There are two main schools of thought in regard to character development:1. Begin with flawed characters who make mistakes but learn from them, thus developing through (shared) experiences.2. Begin with competent characters and develop them by slowly revealing key details about their past, so the reader feels like she's getting to know them.I infinitely prefer the second option. I have no patience for characters making stupid decisions and (slooooooowly) learning the hard way. Give me insight into whatever made them who they currently are, b/c this kind of thing:It is no slight to you, Baxter Pane had argued, staring at her with those rheumy eyes of his, but women are not suited to the Ministry. They are too…fickle, too easily transported by their emotions. Adare swallowed a curse. And here I am, allowing myself to be transported by my emotions.Oh, hello, Adare, impulsive firstborn daughter of Emperor. Nice to meet you. Maybe we'll see you again in another dozen POV changes, and you can do some other fool thing to make me not like you. But as irritating as it was to watch Adare do the thing she knew she shouldn't be doing (b/c just couldn't help it?), Valyn was who really made me lose my mind:“Off the bird, Laith,” Valyn snapped. “Now.” He wasn’t angry at his Wing. They were playing by the book, playing it safe, but there was no benefit to a pointless standoff with a dozen Aedolians.Except there WAS.Then he laments his reckless behavior:In his eagerness to save his brother, he had led his Wing directly into harm’s way, had ignored the signs, spurned sensible caution, and now, unless he figured some way to cut them all loose, they were going to die here in the shadow of an unnamed mountain at the end of the world.YEP. He did all those things. But did he learn his lesson?NOPE:For as long as he could remember, he’d tried to weigh his options, to think before acting, to make the wise choice. It had all ended in ashes...So you see . . . Not only does he not learn his lesson, he forgets there's a lesson to learn. He even convinces himself that he's exercised caution in the past, which, I can assure you, he hasn't. And that last quote? It's from 91%. Other problems:1. 50(ish)% of the plot "twists" were obvious as soon as the foundation was laid. Of the remaining 50(ish)%, most took the next most obvious path. There were only one or two things I didn't guess by the second try.2. Despite the obviousness of what was going on, the characters kept right on scratching their heads. At times, these obvious things were even stated OUT LOUD:(view spoiler)[“So let’s get this straight,” Gwenna said, shaking her head. “Some poor bastard on a ship tells you the Kettral are trying to kill you. Then Manker’s collapses. Then it seems like Annick tries to drown you. Then Annick shoots you in the shoulder.” “Annick shows up a lot in this story,” Laith added.Huh. So she does. I wonder if IT'S A SETUP. (hide spoiler)]3. HUMANS DON'T HAVE PURPLE EYES....caught up in the spell of those violet eyes, that cascading black hair...4. (view spoiler)[“Now let her go,” Tan said. “Open your hand and let her fly away.” Slowly, Kaden opened his fingers, reluctant to let the thrush escape his grasp. It seemed important that he hold her, for some reason, that he clutch her to him … but Tan had said to let her go and so, ever so lightly, he let her slip from his fingers. “She’s flying now,” he whispered. “Watch,” Tan replied. Against closed lids, Kaden watched as the bird dwindled, smaller and smaller against the great blue of his mind’s vast sky, smaller and smaller until she was a smudge, a speck, a pinprick on the great open emptiness of the heavens. And then she was gone. Blankness filled his mind.Oh, how nice. Kaden was able to accomplish in a visualization exercise what many of the monks spend their ENTIRE LIVES trying to achieve with varying levels of success. Neat trick. (hide spoiler)]5. Tan would live, or he would die.Funnily enough, I felt the same way, and without the benefit of having achieved Enlightenment the vaniate. (view spoiler)[I felt the same way when Lin died, too. Oh, when Valyn inner-monologued about soldiers not dying in daydreams, I felt a twinge of pain on his behalf, but, honestly, I spent the time up to that point being annoyed by her existence. When Gwenna got so angry about Valyn not harnessing himself in properly when we first met them (b/c distraught over news of father's death), I'd hoped it was b/c she liked him. Enter Lin. A cardboard placeholder as far as I can tell. Blah. (hide spoiler)] <------there's actually two problems in there.BUT. As irksome as all of those things were, it's clear that Staveley has unrealized potential. His writing can be alternately hilarious: Gwenna had tied her last would-be suitor to a dock piling and left him there for the tide. When his friends finally found him, he was sobbing like a baby as the waves washed over his face.Or beautiful:Maybe this is what they want us to learn, he thought to himself blearily. There are two worlds, one of life and one of darkness, and you cannot inhabit both. It seemed like a good lesson for a Kettral, a lesson that could never be learned on the earth itself, not in a thousand days of swordplay and barrel drops, the kind of lesson that had to be bleached into the bone.And while I didn't connect with many of the secondary characters, there were glimpses of brilliance:“Hey, Sharpe,” one of the men bellowed down at Gwenna. It was Plenchen Zee—thick as a barrel but damned near impossible to kill, if the stories were true. Someone had sliced out one of his eyes, and he’d taken to filling the cavity with all sorts of unsettling things: stones, radishes, eggs. Today a ruby bulged jauntily from the socket.SO. Will I be reading the next book? Probably not any time in the near future. But eventually . . .? I could see it happening. And LOTS of other people absolutely loved it (including book bff). It's possible this was a case of it's-not-you-it's-me. B/c monks. And SPIDERS. And purple eyes. (Among other things.) Your call.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Melanie
    2019-02-28 12:19

    This reading experience was something that I'll never forget. This world truly is a unique take on epic fantasy, and quickly became one of my favorite immersions. Among all the action, twists, and turns, this book somehow became one of the most addicting things I've read in a long time. I never wanted to put it down, and I'm currently deciding if I'm going to ignore my TBR and pick up The Providence of Fire immediately after I post this review.This is a story about the Emperor's three children, all living very different lives, and all having very different points of view:Kaden - The Emperor in waiting, training with monks that are secluded in the far off mountains. “Believe what you see with your eyes, trust what you hear with your ears; know what you feel with your flesh. The rest is dream and delusion.”Adare - Minister of Finance, living in the capitol and not knowing who to trust.“Men tend to die when you slide steel beneath their skin and wiggle it around. Even priests.”Valyn - Cadet, training to become a Kettral, which is a very high rank and a very prestigious title in their military that flies with a group on a giant bird. Yes, you read that right. “Put a man’s back to the wall, and he’s got no choice but to fight; offer him a comfortable retirement before the age of twenty, and you learn who’s committed to the cause.”I'll admit, I was a little biased towards Adare's point of view, because her storyline has such a strong feministic undertone. Unfortunately, Adare also gets a considerably less amount of chapters than her brothers, but I was enthralled each time we got a glimpse of her story in Annur. I have very high hopes for her in The Providence of Fire, especially with the impact of that cliffhanger. Like, I'm here for Adare, and I'm rooting for whatever she has to do for her kingdom. Kaden was my favorite of the two brothers, but that was probably because I felt so bad for him all the time. Not only was he the last to know important information, he was also being abused constantly by Tan. I mean, obviously Tan ended up stepping up his game later on, but it was giving me Severus Snape vibes throughout the entire first half; just because you do something good in the end doesn't erase all the bad shit you did earlier. Valyn's chapters for sure grew on me. At first, I thought he was the reason the book felt a little slow, but then, once his story starting going, his chapters ended up being the most addicting. Even with Kaden being borderline tortured, Valyn was the one that broke my heart and evoked so much emotion from me, while I was reading. Also, he is sitting on a pretty big secret that is for sure showing the power of the side effects, so I am probably most excited for his part in The Providence of Fire.There is also an awesome mystery surrounding the Csestriim and the Nevariim, both of which predate humans. We find out very little about them in this book, but you can easily tell that they will be the focal point moving forward, and I'm so excited. This world felt so magical and new, the writing is suburb, the side characters are battling the main characters for space in my heart, the mystery is all consuming and makes this book impossible to put down, and the story was just downright good. Seriously, I don't have anything negative to say about this book. The only thing I can possibly think of is that Adare didn't get enough chapters. Oh wait, no, I do have one major complaint about this book: I hated "kent-kissing" being used constantly! Like, I actually fucking despised it. At first it was fine, but it became so redundant I just couldn't deal. In general, 99% of the time I will dislike when authors make up their own swear words, but this was even worse because "kent-kissing" was used constantly.But besides that, this was such an amazing reading experience. Mostly because I was able to personally buddy read this with three of my favorite people on Goodreads! Please read Petrik (King of the Unhewn Throne), Gelisvb (My favorite person to fangirl with on Goodreads), and Cory's (The best Holy Paladin in the entire world of Azeroth) reviews if you have some spare time. They are nothing short of perfect, and I am so thankful to have been able to buddy read this beautiful story alongside them. Plus, they are all really great humans who will make your feed better in general. Now, is it time for me to ignore all my ARCs and responsibilities and read The Providence of Fire? I think so! Seriously, I need more of this world. I whole heartedly recommend you giving this series a shot, because I think very few will walk away disappointed. Blog | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Youtube | Twitch

  • Emily May
    2019-03-17 12:31

    I'm sorry to my co-blogger, Brandi, and all my other friends and non-friends who gave this book five stars. Which is basically everyone. I won't play stupid. I can see why fans of epic fantasy might like this book and I admit to being picky when it comes to the traditional fantasy genre. And I'll also say that I can see on some level that this book is well-written. I say "on some level" because I judge quality of writing not only by the author's ability to spin a nice phrase, but also by their ability to write a compelling and engaging plot.That was missing for me.I suppose I should also mention that I didn't read the last quarter and I'd already started skim-reading by the third quarter. So maybe... just maybe... the last part of the story takes a turn for the epic and would have kicked my indifference for this book right where it hurts. But I don't have the patience or the reading time to waste on finding out. What I did read was - and I'm sorry again to all the book's fans - so so fucking boring.Actually no, I'll give credit where it's due - the prologue was fantastic. It was a short, brutal and horrifying opening that had me feeling glad I'd taken a chance on the book. It was all downhill from there. So, as I said, I am so so picky when it comes to “epic fantasy” - my attention span isn’t a great partner for the generally slow pacing of these kinds of books. But I've found ones to love like The Name of the Wind and Half a King, so there's always some hope left for me.Part of me wants to say this book is slow because hell, did it feel like it! But stuff was constantly happening. Action scenes were frequent and bloody. People died. Others were betrayed. Secret feelings of love are revealed. Everything is at stake... and I just didn't care. The action scenes were so dry and lacking in suspense. Sure, they had gory descriptions; but there was zero investment in the story or characters on my part.The three protagonists all have their own stories to tell and, despite the differences between their individual experiences and situations, I could hardly tell them apart. They never moved me, never got me to care. I'm already forgetting about them. And, even though the book is made up of constant scenes of action, the actual main plotline had made hardly any progress by the halfway point of the novel. The new emperor was still stuck in the same place he was at the beginning. I felt like I was trying to wade through thick mud while reading this book.With such a high average rating and a million dazzling reviews from my trusted friends, it seems it must just be me. But I couldn't stop my eyes from running ahead on the page and wanting it to just be over.Oh well *shrugs*

  • ❄️Nani❄️
    2019-03-16 11:41

    3.75⭐️This is one of those books that I really liked but find it difficult to review. I’ve very mixed feelings so bear with me here. I'd also like to add that this is after all the first book in the series and when have I ever been blown away by first books, save for some few exceptions here and there? Can’t win ‘em all now, can we?Don’t get me wrong, I loved it and I found the world and magic system to be especially thrilling and fascinating that invite reader investment but that's not to say it wasn’t without its problems. Characters:The book kicks off with the emperor assassinated and his heirs, Kaden, Valyn and their sister Adare are all scattered across the globe, each set upon a path by their father. Valyn is on a remote island training to become a Kettral, the Empire’s special/elite forces. Imperial heir, Kaden is cloistered in a mountain abbey, training in the secrets of mental discipline to clear the mind and protect from attack, and seeking to understand the world from a different perspective. And only the eldest daughter, Adare who is suited to rule in all forms but her gender is the only one in Annur, having assumed the role of Minister of Finance. Although she cannot claim the throne, she intently seeks the murderer of her father.I think what I really loved most was the characters and their utter practicality rather than the plot, at least, in the first half of the book. They're royal children who spent their lives taking orders and raised to understand that being a royal comes with a lot of burden, expectations and complications. Expectation vs. reality:So, here's what I expected: An epic struggle for the throne (after all, the narrative starts out with the death of the emperor, so, you do the math), some sibling rivalry of sorts, a heavy dose of court and political intrigue and a boatload of conspiracies & plot twists surrounding the mystery behind the death of the emperor.Here's what I actually got: A kind of, coming of age story of the siblings - each going through their own struggles and inner conflicts as they try to deal and come to terms with their new reality.The fact that they are related didn’t really play much of a part until the last few pages, and even then it felt somewhat contrived and forced. plot:All in all, the overarching plot was (or had the potential to be) a brilliant one – separate the three leads but have them be intrinsically linked and in danger, in a world that’s both intriguing and interesting, with mythology and mystery. Sounds great right? Well yes, except for the issues that played a big part in hindering me from fully enjoying the story.And though I genuinely liked all three of the protagonists, I had a problem with each and every one of their perspective storylines.Issue #1:For starters, Adare was given only a fraction of the page time that her brothers received and I would’ve loved to have seen more of her, particularly given the fact that among the three points of view, her story arc is arguably the one that holds the entire story together and is the most significant in relation to the coming of epic confrontation.It is also through her story that we get a greater sense of the world in which they inhabit, and where we discover that the plot that took down her and her brother's father was much greater and far more complicated. So, I fail to see the reason behind the decision in only giving her (the most important protagonist) less page time than, say, the one whose POV contributes nothing to the story until the very end (more on that below).- The other problem I had with her was that she’s supposed to be highly trained in the intricacies of politics but not much of it was evident in here and there were lots of inconsistencies in her actions. Her capability was often impeached by committing impetuous and, occasionally, stupid acts for, I'm presuming, no other reason than furthering Staveley’s plot.Issue #2:For the first three quarters of the book, Kaden’s storyline contributed little to nothing to the overarching plot and was simply unnecessary. Him getting tested on series of metal endurances by the elder monks or him simply running around with his buddy and getting beat up took up the bulk of his page time until that is, the very last few chapters when things finally started to get… wild. Issue #3:Out of the three, it was, of course, Valyn’s storyline that I was continuously captivated by. However, not so fast there, because, his arc too isn’t without its problems. Given his background and the length of time he’d spent training in the elite forces, I expected so much more competency from him. Furthermore, for someone who's also supposed to have been training for years as a team leader, there was not firmness nor toughness in him and his abilities in making executive decisions and leading a team or understanding teamwork, for that matter, left a lot to be desired. I still loved him despite his shortcomings and he was my favourite of the three. That being said, I will definitely continue on with the series and something tells me book #2 will knock my socks right off. It may not sound like I enjoyed it but that couldn't be further from the truth. Putting aside the unnecessary storyline, misshapen characters, and mediocre / inconsistent pacing, there's so much promise and a huge potential in this series and I'm very much looking forward to seeing where the story will go next.⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗⤗Got a feeling about this one, folks. 😎So, an Empire on a brink of collapse (I think?), treachery & deceit, a conspiracy, and siblings right in the centre. I don’t know about you but to me, that sounds like a recipe for a badass narrative. 🤞 Well... it’s also a recipe for half the fantasy books out there but... we’re not gonna dwell on that. Girl’s tryin’ to make a point here. Also, I’ve been putting it off for far too long until I was in the right state of mind to read it and it’s only fair that I get compensated for my hard-exercised patience.

  • Cait (Paper Fury)
    2019-03-20 04:31

    THIS IS ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY ENTIRELY ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I'VE EVER READ IN ALL MY BORN DAYS. I just...I cannot...I'VE GOT NO WORDS. It was just such a me book. Omg. Just = OMG. It had everything: maximum stabbiness, torture, bleeding, complex plot, treachery, plot twists, everything I love being murdered, epic stabby royal siblings, psychopaths, assassins, and EVEN A BIT OF SASS NOW AND THEN. Honestly this is the kind of book I aspire to write.EXCUSE ME WHILE I LOSE MY MIND IN LOVE AND ADORATION FOR THIS MASTERPIECE OMG.(Yes, oh shush, I'll review sensibly in a second. Just let me have this wild rabid moment.)NOTE: I listened to the audiobook! Best audiobook ever. Although I listened to it on 2x the speed because who has time for slow voices? Not me. And everything is better in fast-forward (except cake, mate, I like that to last). But the narrator put in a few accents and was just amazing at telling and had an incredible melodic speaking style. So. #winWhat I particularly loved was how it's a story about three royal siblings. It's actually narrated by all three, although Adare (the only girl) has about 1 chapter to the others' like...10 chapters. HMMMM. But she also had the least interesting storyline so I suppose I'll forgive it. #BenevolentMe But I love love looooved Valyn and Kaden SO VERY MUCH. I can't actually figure out what their ages are?? I think Kaden said he was 17, which I then suppose Valyn was 16? IDEK. LET ME KNOW IF YOU DO KNOW. But Kaden is being trained as a monk at the monstary for his position as Emperor (he's the heir) and Valyn is becoming a Super Awesome Assassin. So like their story lines don't intersect until the end -- BUT IT WAS FREAKISHLY AWESOME WHEN THEY DID. And I just have a huge weakness for brotherly stories. Yayyy the brothers. (I'm actually suffocating I love this so much omg help me.)Plus Valyn was downright AWESOME. He is my favourite. He was badass, but he also failed a lot. He made mistakes, but he also owned them. He is a bundle of stabby rage. BLESS HIS DARK HEART. (view spoiler)[And at the end he went TOTALLY dark side when he cut apart that guy and...yeah, I probably shouldn't be so happy when my babies go dark side. BUT THERE YOU GO. (hide spoiler)]There's only like 2% romance. Which is like amazing. I'm really tired of books where there's unnecessary romance flung everywhere, BUT THIS WAS PERFECT.Also someone needs to tell the author to chill with the whole "kill your darlings" thing. Granted, he didn't always kill them. He just HURT THEM MAXIMUM AMOUNT. The things these characters went through?!? Particularly Valyn?!? LIKE HOLY KELP. IT WAS INTENSE AND BRUTAL. THe book is everything brutal and gritty. Valyn's assassin/soldier training is insane, and Kaden gets beaten around the monastery super bad in the attempt to teach him how to clear his mind (for a purpose but I won't share because #spoilers). Did I want to kidnap them once or twice to save them? Yes. Did I enjoy that the book knew no chill? Yes.The plot was also majestic. Mostly because it had a bit of a mystery aspect. There were a ton of loose plot threads that didn't seem to connect at all (like random murders, and royalty assassination attempts, and collapsing buildings) and then -- they DID and it was most glorious. The book was constantly exciting and engaging. It packed a ton in and I never wanted to na. In fact, I read this in like a week. Which is absurd and insane for an audibook because I usually take a month. IT WAS SO SO ADDICTIVE, OKAY?!?!SMALL LIST OF OTHER THINGS I LOVED:• the fact my feels got smashed• magic• evil that does not sleep• giant birds that you can fly on like Gandalf's eagles• royal children fighting for their lives• super gritty battle training• a super sassy assassin• female characters who absolutely KICKED ASS AND TOOK NAMES AND WERE GENERALLY EPIC• intelligent and clever characters• stabbtastic stabbage at all times• misfit bands of warriors who don't like taking ordersAlthough a quiet word about the female characters... Okay, adult epic fantasy is basically always sexist. (In my experience, which is limited so far, I admit.) Even if the women characters are written complex and awesome, they're constantly put in sexist words. Because apparently we can have eagles the size of elephants but we can't have a society not built on a patriarchy. OKAY THEN. But at least this book really promoted the epicness of the women!!And I wanted to cry. LIKE A LOT. Because it liked to stab at everything I loved. So nice, so kind, thanks for nothing. BUT DON'T LET THIS FOOL YOU: THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT IN A BOOK. I want to never believe my favourites are safe. I want to be in a constant state of desperation to find out what happens next. The book is insufferably well written.To summarise: I FREAKING LOVED IT. (In case you couldn't tell?!) I loved the characters so so much, because they were complex, dynamic, and amazing. It had a HUGE cast and yet everyone seemed so dimensional. And it effortlessly mixed in dark evil on the horizon, and assassination plots, and gritty and dark princeling training. It was equal parts exciting and heartbreaking. IT SMASHED ME. I'VE NOT FELT THIS ADDICTED TO A BOOK IN A LONG TIME.

  • Robin (Bridge Four)
    2019-02-22 09:38

    Reread January 2015 Dropped 1 star from 5 to 4 Last year was a big fantasy year for me and my well of experience is bigger now. I still enjoyed this book, it well written with an engaging story, but not quite as much the second time through and I blame my love for Brandon Sanderson's high fantasy for this. There is also Patrick Rothfuss and Joe Abercrombie to blame a little but mostly Sanderson. See I found Sanderson, Rothfuss and Abercrombie books not long after reading The Emperor's Blades this year and they have made my fantasy well much deeper and I expect a little more. The problem I have is with the twist/big reveal toward the end. It is still a good twist I didn't see it coming and was really surprised....but that is part of the problem. The great thing about a Sanderson book is that when the twist happens and it always happens I can look back and see the clues leading to it. I can see how he was the magician who presented me droppings to lead me to one train of thought and then POW hit me with something else entirely. I have grown to love that bait and switch and that is what makes a good twist a Great twist. There isn't quite that subtle layer in the Emperor's Blade. There is the big reveal but even on the reread there really aren't any clues that I should have seen. It all still makes a lot of sense and I really liked it but it didn't have that extra umph at the very end.This was Stavely's debut novel so I'm really excited to see what he follows up with and how much he has grown as a writer. Original review January 2014It is the hardest thing to write a review for a book you absolutely love. There is no way that I can get across how marveled by this story I am. The Emperor’s Blades is probably the best new High Fantasy book of the year. Okay so it’s only January but I’m just going to say that the bar has been set extremely high and I unless George RR Martin’s Winds of Winter the 6th book of the A Song of Ice and Fire makes it out this year (highly unlikely) then Brian Staveley’s debut novel might hold this spot in my head and heart all year. I couldn’t believe that this is a debut novel, I’m floored by the depth of the story and this is just the beginning. Brian Staveley will, in all probability, just improve as time goes on and I can’t wait to read anything else he writes.Told from the perspective of the Emperor’s three children Kaden, Valyn and Adare so many different facets of the world were shown to the reader. Instead of telling us that Valyn is a remarkable soldier, like many other fantasy authors do, we are shown the hell of the Kettral training and fully believe after reading those pages that Valyn is a strong warrior. The same goes for Kaden, sent to a monastery for training to become Emperor. His trials are extremely difficult and he is not a pampered prince, I believed that through the years spent there he was able to accomplish the training he needed to be Emperor. There are plots a foot against the empire and all three children of the Emperor, while facing different challenges, play an equally important role in the story. There are ancient enemies from the past, epic battles, trials and tribulations and each one has tempered each of the Emperor’s children into a honed blade against the enemies that are trying to take over the Empire and who murdered the Emperor. Every important facet of the world is explored and fleshed out. There was almost always something of importance happening.There is some set up to this world and so I would say the first 20% runs a little slower than the rest of the story but after that between mysteries and events unfolding I couldn’t tear myself away from the story. No character is safe, there are surprises around every corner, some I guessed most I did not. The author gives plenty of leads, but then the result of the lead was often different and more complex than I originally thought. The intricacy of the story is up there with Tolkien and George RR Martin weaving multiple story lines and plots into a larger grander scheme, but with a prose that is natural, beautiful and easy to read. Every part of the story seemed necessary all of the characters real. Not one character was perfect but all flawed and human. Staveley has created a unique world and really brought it to life in the pages of this story. The only thing I can even complain about is the fact that I started this before the next book was out, I wanted to jump into the next book right away.As a female lover of fantasy the other thing I really liked about The Emperor’s Blades is how many strong female characters there are. Even though the majority of the book is told from Kaden and Valyn’s perspectives some of the strongest characters were female. They made difficult decisions and just because a woman was a warrior didn’t mean she couldn’t have emotions and complexity. He allowed his female characters to be strong without making them into a bitch, they come across as independent, not needing to be saved by a man or anyone else. I appreciate the intricacy that Mr. Staveley put into every one of them.Brian Staveley has a new fan in me. If you only read one Fantasy book this year, this should be it. I look forward to reading it again before the next in the series comes out.Jan 18,2014 Brain Stavelley has set the bar high for this series. The way everything in the story blended together, the reveals I didn't see coming (and there were some slap me in the face doozies), the feelings the book envoked, the intricate world created will be hard to match or beat.I think Mr. Stevelley has the potential to be just as renowned has Tolkien or George R.R. Martin Full review to come...

  • Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
    2019-03-04 12:19

    Alright I want to get some minor quibbles out of the way before I go into a detailed analysis of the major problems I had with this book and a lot of grimdark in general. - Book is slow and boring. One storyline dominates the others. I dreaded picking it up.- Author hates fat people and small eyes. It was a weird compulsive quirk! He also had a serious case of Disney Eyes in regard to “good” characters.- Considering this is meant to be morally grey “grimdark” fantasy there are clearly drawn lines between the “good” and “bad” guys.But what I really want to speak about is the representations of women in Blades particularly, and grimdark fantasy generally. I’m also going to touch on how the book handles POC and LGBTQ characters. Bitches and WhoresI had so many problems with the way this book handled female characters. I’m going to highlight a few examples. These aren’t meant to be all- encompassing but they do provide textual evidence for my complaints. I want to be really clear that I’m not just talking about characterization. I’m talking about unconscious bias in the writing that routinely reveals itself in the way female characters relate to one another and the world, and in how they are internally described by POV characters. I’m also talking about the amount of time they get on the page, and the way their character arcs are handled. These are separate issues from just “the story”. It was these aspects of the writing that rankled me the most. Physical DescriptionsWomen are described by their breasts, physical attractiveness and Disney eyes. I wouldn’t mind this if men were likewise described but the only men who get detailed descriptions are the “fat, disgusting” ones. In Valyn’s first scene, surrounded by blood, gore and murder victims and in the middle of a training exercise Valyn spends time monologueing about how sexy Lin is. A few chapters later here is how Valyn describes Gwenna:“… tempted by the bright green eyes and flaming red hair, by the supple, curvaceous body that she did her best to hide…”Argh! It is gratuitous and constant. Their personalities are also problematic. Girls are either dangerous like Gwenna with her terrible temper, or pathetic, like Rianne, or hopelessly inept like Lin and Adare. CharacterisationAdareAdare is one of the siblings but is only given about 6 chapters in the whole novel. She is constantly compared to others and her difficultly as a women in a man’s world is obsessed over. The author sets up a hyper-sexist world. “It is no slight to you, Baxter Pane had argued, staring at her with those rheumy eyes of his, (eye obsession strikes again!) but women are not suited to the Ministry. They are too … fickle, too easily transported by their emotions.”Ok, I can understand that. But then he unconsciously characterised her in sexist way that confirms the bias. She bit into a fingernail, then remembered her post, the hundreds watching, and returned the hand forcefully to her lap. Adare let the words trail off, retaking her seat with as much dignity as she could muster. Adare swallowed a curse. And here I am, allowing myself to be transported by my emotions.She pretty much confirms all the criticisms and concerns people have about her and I'm not even sure the author realises this.LinI have a real issue with love interests who are sexually assaulted and then fridged to provide impetus for a male POV character. It is so disrespectful. Consider this scenario:Your brave hero is a warrior. She comes home to discover her loving husband has been raped and killed by her enemy. Furious and grief stricken she swears to punish the people who did this to her husband. And if she flirts with a few sexy young men along the way, well that doesn’t diminish her cause, a girl has needs you know… Or how bout this one:Your James Bond stand- in is captured by the enemy. He is ruthlessly tortured and raped until he manages to escape. He swears vengeance. He will bring forth unholy terror on the people who hurt him. But to succeed he will need the help of a sexy female friend. Can he learn to love again? Can he trust her to touch his body with kindness after suffering with this isolating trauma for so long? Do you find these laughable? Possibly offensive? How would you have felt if the scenario in Blades had looked like this:“I should be focusing on my bladework, and all I can think about is ripping the pants off this boy.” Yurl had straddled Valyn, and instead of ending the struggle with a blow to the back of the neck, he was reaching down between his legs, trying to force his thighs apart as he thrashed and writhed.”Would you be defending “realism” and the need to “set the tone” if the male protagonist was casually sexually assaulted while everyone- trainers, friends and fellow students- looked on, jeering when Yurl managed to wrap a hand around Valyn’s limp dick or rub a few fingers along his crack?If you are uncomfortable with the image I’m painting you need to ask yourself why you were ok with Staveley doing it to Lin. AmieAnd that brings me to another thing- the murdered prostitute Amie. When Lin criticizes another character for soliciting sex from a thirteen year old girl she is shamed. I'm including the lot so no one can argue I've ignored context.The smile froze on Laith’s face. “She wasn’t my whore.”“Of course not. That’s the nice thing about borrowed gear—if it gets busted, it’s no skin off your nose. If Amie had been yours, maybe you would have taken better care of her.”Valyn raised a hand to stop the words, but Laith stepped in close before he could speak. The flier’s normal genial humor had burned off like the oil from the sputtering lamp.“I don’t know how I became the villain in this little tale,” he said, eyes bright, voice soft, “but don’t drag me into your guilt.”“My guilt?” Lin sputtered.“Oh, right,” the flier shot back. “I forgot. You only bought fruit from her. You never bought sex.” He held up his palms in mock surrender. “What’d you pay her? A few copper flames? Enough to put a decent meal on her table? Enough so she could stop whoring?”Lin refused to respond, her face closed like a book.“Before you come pointing your finger at me, why don’t you ask yourself what you did to make Amie’s life any better,” Laith demanded, eyes ablaze. Before Valyn could say anything to calm things down, the flier turned on his heel and stalked out.What is so strange about this is that the author seems to be making the suggestion that these two things are somehow equivalent. Like fucking a 13 year old shows the same degree of concern as purchasing produce from said 13 year old. Even if Lin had done nothing for Amie, she still was dead to rights to call out another character for paying for sex with the 13 year old. What most infuriated me about this was that Lin is left feeling guilty and no one ever questions Laith's position. Somehow he won that round? How???? It is accepted as fair and correct by all the characters and thus I can only conclude that it is also meant to be accepted as such by the reader. What the fuck? POC and LGBTQ charactersBalendin looked like a savage straight out of the Hannan jungles. The feathers of seabirds hung among his long, dark braids, rings of ivory and iron pierced his ears, and blue ink snaked up his arms.“And you wonder why everyone wants to string you bastards up,” Gent grumbled. “No offense meant, Talal, but the whole thing is sick, filthy…”So just a regular POC by fantasy standards then. He is “treacherous” and “frightening”. He is a filthy savage. He is also a magical savage who probably should have been lynched. The POV characters also make much of his background. He is from a colonized backwater, possibly one of the ones, “pressing back against the ‘foreign oppressors,’ never mind that our oppression is what brings law courts and foreign trade, military protection and technological advancement”. I mean... for fucks sake... how many times do we have to keep talking about how shitty it is to constantly frame fantasy stories in terms of colonization and marginalization? The three POV characters are obviously from an extremely privelegded background so I’m not saying they should have better awareness of their own place in society but the novel never challenges these perspectives. These sort of comments are just thrown out into the narrative to swim around unchallenged. It makes it really hard to understand what Staveley’s intentions are because in his own words he seems to think it is really easy to break tropes, and that he is more interested in exploring traditional frameworks. Consider his understanding of what fantasy tropes are:“Within the fantasy genre, however, breakage is actually pretty easy. See that nice wizard over there? He has a pointy hat and a white beard. He mutters querulously to himself. He’s forgetful. He likes to read. He feeds nuts to an owl that perches on his shoulder. Now, let’s watch as he pries the eyeball from the skull of an innocent child while that child’s parents, whom our wizard has nailed (non-fatally) to a wall, watch in horror. Trope: broken. Honestly, I’m always a little surprised when people describe my books as dark or violent.”I mean what the hell? In that interview he seemed to be giving himself a pat on the back for his trope-breaking plot points. This suggests he isn’t aware of the tropes he is reinforcing- which also means that even if he manages to redeem some aspects of his story in the next two books- it will likely be as accidental and unconscious as his reinforcement of them was in this novel. I’m not even going to deal with Annick the magical unicorn lesbian. Suffice to say Staveley isn’t providing any nuance to that aspect of characterization either.I can handle books that deal with difficult issues or exist in grimdark universes. But if you are going to explore issues of gender, sexual assault, and colonization at least do it with conscious fucking awareness. I was so angry reading this book. The issues were so overt that it would have been impossible for me to enjoy this even if the story had been more engaging/ better paced. This is the end of the review. The other stuff deals with grimdark fantasy more generally. Some criticisms I suspect this review will garner after my experience with a similar critique I did of Axe and the Throne:“This is grimdark, if you can’t handle the genre don’t read it.” Fuck you. I’m not being raped every other day in real life so why the fuck should every god-damn women in grimdark fantasy? If this is so fucking inevitable to the genre why does Best Served Cold manage to incorporate fully fleshed out female characters without constantly resorting to gendered violence. Why is Joe Abercrombie able to have a character who is a loving, single parent and a vicious torturer? Why is he able to have a female character that fucks and chucks a bloke and ends up better off for it? “Grimdark is just being honest. This is reality.”Grimdark is a subgenre that describes a particular the tone, style or setting of speculative fiction (especially fantasy) that is, depending on the definition used, markedly dystopian or amoral, or particularly violent or realistic.Here’s the thing- grimdark does not have to equal sexism. N.K. Jemison’s Broken Earth series (The Fifth Season) is dystopian, amoral, violent and realistic. However, shockingly, characters don’t suffer because they are women or because they are POC. It is possible to write a grim dark novel and include harrowing, realistic scenes without resorting automatically to gendered and racial violence. When you say, “well this is realistic” or “this is historically accurate” you are saying that realistic worldbuilding requires the inclusion of certain specific inequalities in order to count as realistic – that a story cannot be honest, or characters believably human, if women and POC aren’t oppressed or villainous. You are assuming that current expressions of bigotry, sexism and racism are universal truths. You are saying that there is no other possible reality that could be believable and then wonder why we get pissed off. Novels like Blades reinforce specific inequalities as inevitable, thereby further perpetuating those perspectives. The thing is grimdark doesn’t accurately reflect the historical period it is trying to mimic or even current reality. Where is the male rape? Where are the soldiers dying, not in an epic battle, but from infected scratches? Where are the people going insane from syphilis, which hero has a dick full of pus as a result of his philandering? Why aren’t the sexually active women pregnant? Why can so many characters read? I think you understand what I am getting at. The real problem is that grimdark as a genre has developed an aesthetic that readers have become familiar with. As a result it feels realistic and right. Hardboiled pulp noir mysteries felt realistic in the 1950’s but we look back on them now and see them as a product of the author's time period, not as an accurate depiction of any sort of reality. The same is true for grimdark. It appeals to modern cynicism and we are so used to seeing gendered violence and oppressed POC that we think this is realistic. But it isn’t. And I strenuously reject any claims to the contrary. “The real world is not the same as a fictional world, authors shouldn’t have to be PC, fuck you and all the other SJW’s out to ruin everything.”Firstly, why are you so invested in seeing women raped and POC victimised in your fiction? I think this says more about you then me. Secondly, fiction has real- world consequences. Negative and positive. The Birth of a Nation inspired the formation of the second era of the Klu Klux Klan. 12 Years a Slave and other true accounts were essential in the political fight against slavery. Fiction is not created or read in a vacuum. It is no coincidence that the MRA movement evolved out of the gaming community. There is a reason women read and write “feminist” fiction. On one level or another we all acknowledge the very real and important ways stories permeate and shape our experience of the world. That said this is a subjective review. No one is preventing Staveley from publishing his work or you from reading it. I can say I don't like it and his fans can keep reading it. My dislike for something does not prevent you from enjoying it. I'm not lurking behind Staveley's writing desk with a butcher's knife telling him to write better fiction…or else… “Not every woman has to be a superhero who rescues kitties and knows karate.”Yep. I’m well- aware of that, thanks. Women do not have to fall into a handful of archetypes. They do not have to be the hero every time or to always succeed. A Mary Sue is just as infuriating as a trophy vagina. What is necessary is that female characters are as multi-faceted and flawed as male characters. They need to have their own motivations and goals. If they suffer it should be part of their character arc not their love interests. Lin was not a real person. Every decision she made aimed at pushing Valyn along his path to character growth. Consider that in one scene she ruthlessly kills a girl to teach Valyn the importance of recognizing the greater good. A few scenes later she teaches him the importance of compassion. Lin loses her temper, which leads him to play the hero and also teaches him the lesson that he should not let his emotions rule him. It also helps inspire sympathy in the reader for Valyn and increases our desire to see him succeed over the assholes. I don’t think it is too much to ask of authors that they ensure their female characters are fully-fleshed out. “Later in the series xyz character does xyz which proves it’s not sexist at all.”Firstly, the other books don’t matter because I’m reviewing this book. Secondly, from some of the synopsis’ I’ve read of the other books I’m almost certain I would have similar complaints. Thirdly, in terms of literary merit, I found the book boring and have no interest in reading the rest of the series.

  • Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
    2019-03-12 12:24

    [5/5 stars!] And a new addition to my small shelf of favorites! RTC :)

  • Jill
    2019-03-11 12:35

    Here is a (not really) spoiler summary for the first 75% of The Emperor’s Blades: An emperor, dead; a plot to kill his three children, underway; breakneck action to match those high-stakes…completely missing. We start the book with the death of an emperor—as auspicious a premise as there ever was—but until the final quarter, nothing of importance happens. It’s quite shocking actually: a book that is going to be published could stand to lose its first 300 pages. All that happens in those 300 pages is an extended montage scene. The two princes—one training to be an elite soldier, the other serving as a monastic acolyte—get into various unimportant scrapes that are described in painstaking detail. (Literally ‘painstaking’: the pain of these unnecessary details is comparable to the pain of impalement by a stake.) Now I can never resist a good montage scene. Upbeat music coupled with characters getting ready to chase their goals is a perfect combination. But after a while I was hoping for, then praying for, then sacrificing cows at a homemade altar for a conflict to maybe kinda sorta sometime soon appear. Please Zeus?As I waited very patiently, I was subjected to simplistic and forced dialogue that merely served to push the plot along. I also had to suffer dumb characters. Get ready to scoff and eyeroll when a character neglects to notice a big fat whopping clue slapping him on the side of his face! It happens quite a lot, especially with soldier prince. It’s even worse because the story is so emotionally simplistic, it is impossible to connect with the characters. But what bothered me most about this novel was its treatment of female characters. Now this rant does not entirely belong to The Emperor’s Blades. Rather it is the result of hundreds of fantasy books, normally written by male authors, committing the same error. There are three POV characters in this novel, but I’ve only mentioned the two princes. That’s because the princess’s chapters are very few. What’s worse, in each of her chapters we are constantly reminded that this girl cannot be emperor, that she has no role in this man’s fantasy world. I don’t like “strong” female characters who are constantly told that they’re a rarity, that sexism does not want them where they currently have fought to be. Because honestly this just reinforces the idea that it is unnatural for women to be in positions of power. It suggests, quite unconsciously but regardless, that ambitious and successful women are an aberration. Give me a fantasy novel where men and women are equal and absolutely nothing has to be said about it because it’s normal! Despite all these gripes, The Emperor’s Blades is a mildly entertaining novel that will be appreciated by those who like their fantasy more popcorny and less meaty. Do know that this is a series beginner and there is absolutely zero resolution here. Will I be back for book two? Possibly, since the mythology of this world seems interesting and I didn’t learn enough about it for my taste (instead I was treated to another knife fight or something). But I’m going to read reviews carefully before coming back for more to make sure that all of the significant action isn’t stuffed into the final 100 pages.

  • Bookwraiths
    2019-03-21 12:19

    Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.After reading fantasy for most of my life, I’ve seen more than a few “Next Big Thing” come along. Some of those hyped novels and series have lived up to the tile, but more than a few have crumbled under the expectations. At least, in my eyes they did. And so when I kept seeing people rave about Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades, I was a bit skeptical, fearing another letdown if I let myself get sucked into the frenzy. Well, after finally breaking down and reading it, I now realize all that waiting and doubting was a huge mistake, because this is the real deal in epic fantasy; the Next Big Thing in the genre; the series I can see myself eagerly following for years to come!The Emperor’s Blades follows along behind three of the Emperor’s children: Kaden (the heir), Valyn (the soldier), and Adare (the politician). Each chapters shining the spotlight on one or the other in turn, highlighting their unique struggles, as they are on the edge of maturity yet still trapped in their childhood roles. Sure, there is a bit of resentment of their duties and future roles as their father’s heirs, but their stories are definitely not young adult angst-fests or full-fledged “coming-of-age” tales, but rather a situation where the protagonists just happen to be young adults.As the heir, one would expect Kaden’s story to be centered on court life and political machinations, but Mr. Staveley sidesteps that tired narrative device – instead placing the future Emperor in a monastery on the fringes of civilization. His thoughts and concerns more on news from the outside world and not being beaten by his master for yet another failure in his monastic training than royal ambitions.Valyn, on the other hand, leads an exciting life as a “special forces”-type warrior. His training and the infighting of his fellow cadets turns ugly early and often, as he attempts to become one of the most feared soldiers in the world. If there is truly a “coming-of-age” narrative in the book, I’d point at Valyn’s chapters, because there is a love interest, tough choices, and some emotional turmoil from an unexpected lose; all of which means Valyn displays more angst than his siblings.The final “Blade” in this trio is Adare. This tough, intelligent young woman is knee-deep in political turmoil. As the only child of the Emperor still in the capital, she is quickly engulfed by an upheaval in the government, using her position as a member of the royal cabinet to not only weather the storm but dish out her own punishment to those who have done her wrong. This embroils her in an ugly and very compelling showdown with a powerful religious leader and an alliance with a seemingly friendly politician.All in all, every one of these siblings is a likable, strong, intelligent, and interesting character; each well-rounded, complex and fully capable of carrying their part of the story. Valyn definitely gets more page time, followed closely by Kaden, but even Adare, in her limited appearances, is very interesting, making a reader long for more time to spend tagging along behind her. So, while many times multiple points of view are distracting in an epic fantasy or have interesting and uninteresting parts, all three of these hold their own, making the story a pleasure to read from beginning to end.Naturally, the other character in any epic fantasy is the world building, and Brian Staveley unveils a vibrant, living, and breathing fantasy wonderland in this book. Asian-tinged with sizable dollops of magic, the Annurain world is slowly revealed through the organic teachings of the older characters in the narrative, not through massive info dumps or long “Council of Elrond” like dialogue. And while the depth and breadth of the history and lore are substantial and the magic palpable, Mr. Staveley does a wonderful job of keeping it all just beyond reach, hinting at even more amazing things waiting right around the corner, promising to let you in on the next big secret if you merely stay the course and follow along behind these three characters, who are themselves slowly untangling the mysteries which you yourself long to know.As for the villains, they are numerous and unexpected. No all powerful and completely obvious Sauron-like caricatures here. Nope, each of our young stars deal with their own very different enemies. Whether that be arrogant fellow cadets for Valyn or mysterious creatures for Kaden or powerful high priests for Adare, Mr. Staveley crafts each one differently, shading them in unique ways, so that our Blades are never confronted with the same situation as their sibling a few chapters before. And when the conclusion to the novel finally rolls around, the unveiling of exactly who and what the real villains are and what they are doing might just surprise you.Like I said, this is a book I really fell in love with. Once I became engrossed in the story, I could not stop reading. The characters, the world, the grittiness, and the fast-paced plots held my attention, causing me to stop looking at the clock as I desperately mined this narrative for the answers to all the questions my mind kept creating. Nope, I didn’t get on this bandwagon at the beginning, but now I intend to ride it as far as Mr. Staveley will take me, because Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne is the Next Big Thing out there in my opinion, one which has room for a few more fans if you’d like to jump on next to me and take a fantastic ride.I received this book for free from Tor Books in return for a fair and unbiased review. The thoughts you have read are mine alone.

  • Kaora
    2019-03-02 04:26

    'Kent kissing awesome.

  • ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
    2019-02-23 09:22

    ● They Deceived Me Again and Failed to Mention this was YA in Disguise Buddy Read (TDMAaFtMtwYiDBR™) with my Duplicitous MacHalos ●☠ DNF at 18%.✘ Because the last thing I need right now is to read about a bunch of boring teenagers, their undoubtedly fascinating journey into adulthood, and their juvenile struggles/conflicts/trials/whatever.✘ Because I don't give a damn about this story and the characters in it. They could all die for all I care.✘ And because, no matter how violent this book is supposed to be, it doesn't change the fact that it is Freaking YA. And please don't start arguing over this in the comments section. I'm in one of the foulest moods EVER, and this is a discussion you do not want to have with me right now.THE END.PS: I won't even bother rating this one, that's how much I care about it.✉ A very personal, very private message to Ange: I will always love you, no matter how many crappy books you recommend I read. Just try not to overdo it, okay?

  • Liam Degnan
    2019-03-03 05:42

    “Obedience is a knife that cuts the cord of bondage.Silence is a hammer that shatters the walls of speech.Stillness is strength; pain a soft bed.Put down your basin; emptiness is the only vessel.”Four Stars: ✰✰✰✰This book, shockingly, was actually better than I was expecting it to be, just from the blurbs and little snippets I've seen on Goodreads and Audible. I was expecting more or less just another typical modern fantasy book - that wasn't especially interesting or original; but this book surprised me with it's highly original world building and story. It's one of those books that I found myself really enjoying, in spite of the fact that I had a few issues. I have a complaint that I'm going to voice right at the beginning though:The prologue for this book was too good.I'm serious. It really was WAY too good. Everything about the prologue in this book appealed to me. It carried a sense of weight and reality. The writing was compelling and mysterious. And it introduced a conflict that seemed so new and original and cool. I was thoroughly convinced of this book's merit by the time I got to the end of the prologue.And then I got to chapter one, and never heard anything about the contents of the prologue until I was more than halfway through the book. The majority of the book had absolutely nothing to do with the conflict that the prologue introduces. By the time I got to the end of the book I started to understand why the author did this, but it was still frustrating, because I got all excited about a story I would never actually get to read.It took me a little while to get into it because of that, but once this book got going, it was really quite good. The worldbuilding and story, in particular, I found to be especially unique. The author took concepts that we are all relatively familiar with and used them in a way that added a unique spin onto these familiar ideas. It's light on the magic content, and this was both a good and a bad thing. Good, because I don't think that the story required a lot of magic content to keep it interesting. Bad, because the magic that *is* in the book I felt could have been better explained, especially regarding the people they call "Leaches". The story is told from the perspective of three siblings - Kaden, Valyn, and Adare. It was the characters that kept me from giving this more than four stars. I found them all to be more than a little bland, and just not very interesting. It felt like they all lacked any real personality, and especially after finishing Wrath and The Faithful and the Fallen, I had a really hard time relating to any of the characters in this book. Valyn was BY FAR the most interesting character in the book, but even his character didn't really draw me in until more than halfway through the book. Kaden's *story* kept me interested, but there was literally nothing interesting about him as a person. Neither of them were bad characters, I just really wasn't personally drawn to them.And then there was Adare, who was about as painfully, annoyingly stupid as any character you could read about. She didn't get a lot of airtime in this book, and thank God for that, because I don't think I could have handled more of her than I got.However, in spite of that, the overarching story in the book was seriously excellent, and it's the story and plot of this book that I think sets it apart from other fantasy series in the market today. It felt fresh. We're presented with totally original ideas, combined with familiar elements, that gave this book a really new feeling. So much of today's fantasy feels recycled, but Stavely really did something unique with the story in this book, and I'll definitely be finishing this series because of that.Overall, if you're looking for something different, I really recommend checking this series out. Keep in mind that you might not fall in love with the characters, but if you can get into the story that's being told, it will be well worth your time. Happy reading =]. For this review and more, check out my blog: Thoughts of a Thousand Lives.

  • Monica
    2019-02-24 05:24

    I have read a lot of mediocre reviews on this book. In fact, many of the review sites that I respect the most posited that this book was highly overrated, and they had no idea why Tor had pushed the book so hard. So, I went into this book thinking that it would be an enjoyable read, but nothing too special. Perhaps because of this bias it took me a few chapters to get into the rhythm of the novel, but once I did I was blown away. This is a wonderful debut novel and the start to a new series that I am sure I will read over and over again. Once I became engrossed in this book, I found it almost impossible to put down. I love the characters, I love the world, and I love the fast paced and exciting plot. This is one of those novels that I have a hard time finding anything to criticize. If you are a fan of speculative fiction, this book should be on your MUST read now list.

  • Angela
    2019-02-27 04:45

    6 January 2016: $4.99 on Kindle17 November 2015: $4.99 on Kindle25 September 2014: $2.99 on Kindle - What a fantastic deal!! Highly, highly recommended.1/6/2014 Edit: This book comes out next week (I'm ridiculously excited to get my hardcover of it) and I read this interesting blog by Brian Staveley about the inspiration for the Kettral training scenes hereThere’s a scene near the middle of The Emperor’s Blades in which a class of Kettral cadets, ultra-elite warriors who fly massive hawks into battle, are undergoing their final test: Hull’s Trial. People who have read the book ask about this scene a lot, and about Kettral training more generally. They want to know if I’ve served in the military – I haven’t – and then they want to know where in the hell all the training material comes from. The answer (aside from lots and lots of reading about military training) is adventure racing.12/24/2013 Edit:I've just found the map of Annur on Brian Staveley's website! I was hoping to have one of these. Click on the map for a bigger pictureReview: Best fantasy book I've read in a long time, quite possibly ever.I requested this book without even reading the book-blurb because a friend (Thank You Cory!!) told me, while still in the middle of reading it, that it was the best fantasy book she'd read in a long time. Fantasy is my home in genre novels, I come back to it time and time again because it's comfortable, exciting, interesting, detailed and emotional. So I started The Emperor's Blades with incredibly high expectations and excitement.I was absolutely and thoroughly Blown.Away. This book is amazing. I highlighted dozens of moments throughout this book, was on the edge of my seat for most of it, and was absolutely enthralled the entire journey.The intricate, sweeping story that follows the Malkeenian royal line - two brothers and a sister maneuvering between, around and through plots to take the Unhewn Throne from them - is full of intrigue and twists, danger and valor, despair and determination. I can't even do this justice, but I will say it's only the second book to surprise me so completely and throw twists at me I didn't even see coming. After I spent a good portion of the book detailing theories in my head, only to be wrong most of the time, the final twist absolutely blew my mind.Kaden, Valyn, and Adare are some of my favorite characters - I was utterly and completely on their side from the very first moments we met each of them. Though I admit Valyn, the warrior, is my favorite, I love all three of them. As I was reading I was eager to see them succeed, to beat the insurmountable odds stacked against them, and terrified that they wouldn't. They aren't infalliable. They aren't perfect. They are, however, absolutely loyal, strong, intelligent, and full of determination. Thank goodness, because this war is going to test the depths of their resolve. Additionally, there are more than a few other characters that I'm dying to know more about. Those for, and against, the emperor both.I can't end this review without speaking of the writing itself in The Emperor's Blades. I primarily read for characters, then world, then plot. Prose is important, the way the words are strung together can make or break a story, but it's often the last thing I consider when I decide how much I like a story or not. And if the story here hadn't been so utterly fantastic, if the characters hadn't been so completely intriguing, the world so fascinating - then the words that formed it wouldn't have delighted me so much. But Brian Staveley did something amazing here. He weaved words together in beautiful sentences, gorgeous paragraphs, and painted me a picture that I couldn't look away from. As engrossed as I was in the story, as much as I had to know what was going to happen next, I still stopped and had to re-read a section that was so arresting, so gorgeous, that I couldn't go on without appreciating it for a second, or third, time.Part of the journey is complete in The Emperor's Blades, but it's clear there's a lot left to be told. And I, for one, couldn't be happier.Review also available on my blog and booklikes

  • Gavin
    2019-03-15 10:43

    This was a fairly standard fantasy story. It was decent without being anything special. The Emperor has just been assassinated and this book follows the story of his three children as they seek to avoid the same fate. All three of the siblings are in different locations. The eldest, Adare, remained at court with her father and learned the ways of government. The youngest sibling, Kaden, is the heir to the throne and is training in a far flung monastery. The middle sibling, Valyn, is training to be a warrior with the legendary Kettral. All three were likable enough characters. I liked Valyn's story the most. The Kettral training was interesting and the secondary characters were the most developed. Kaden's story was fairly interesting. Mainly because it eventually lead to us learning who was behind the plot to kill the Imperial family. The mythical, and not human, Csestriim. Adare seemed likable enough. We spent the least amount of time with her. She was focused on discovering who assassinated her father. Despite having a few flaws this book recovered from a slow start to become a fun read. The Csestriim were suitably creepy and villainous, and the various hints of magic we glimpsed were pretty cool.Rating: 4 stars. I'm being kind as the ending was quite good.Audio Note: Simon Vance is a competent narrator, but he will never be a favorite of mine.

  • Alexa
    2019-03-13 07:39

    Buddy read with Athena, Lee and Michael.I HATE being the only one that doesn't like a book everyone loves.But I'm not going to lie: I didn't like this book. In the strict sense of goodreads rating I should have given it 1 single lonely star, I'm giving it that second one because the last 15% of the book was actually pretty good. So, let's tally what I thought were this book's sins: BOOK SIN #1. So from the blurb we know that"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."We learn that this is really REALLY important for the heir to know, which prompts the interesting question: what happens if Kaden dies? Because you know, accidents do happen. People die all the time. Does Valyn suddenly needs to go spend 8 years learning this too? Wouldn't it have been easier to just send both of them to learn the very important thing? BOOK SIN #2 As stated Kaden has been learning stuff for eight years. Well... "learning", he's been doing a lot of random crap that are supposed to be important in the end. Can you say Karate Kid? Wax on, wax off, wax on... The problem is, Kaden doesn't seem to have learned ANYTHING AT ALL. For Hull's sake it's been 8 freaking years. Did all the lessons just go in one ear and out the other? The guy acts like an idiot for 85% of the book!BOOK SIN #3 Actually I think stupidity runs in the family. Valyn has been training for the same amount of time with the super awesome black ops elite force. Yet he seems always to be on the verge of dying, doesn't see the OBVIOUS clues around the "mystery" and is a TERRIBLE team leader. BOOK SIN #4 Also, why the training they endure has to be so violent?! I'm not sure about this idea that beating your apprentice bloody is actually going to make him learn better. It definitely didn't work with these two.BOOK SIN #5 The only smart one in the family is the daughter. Hurray! Of course, she only gets like 5 chapters out of the 50 in the book.BOOK SIN #6 The depiction of the other two important female characters in the book is terrible. "She didn't look like a flint-hearted killer. At first glance, she actually looked more like a farmer's daughter than a soldier"So, exactly what does a soldier woman looks like? BOOK SIN #7 Valyn is being thrown off a ship by his most hated antagonist, and we get this gem: "the blond youth grinned down at him..."First, I'm tired of the repetitive descriptions. How many times are you going to tell me Yurl is blond? I got it the first 10000 times. Second, seriously? "The blond youth grinned down at him"? This is a person Valyn hates! The "blond youth"? More like "The fucking bastard!" Get your fucking adjectives right!BOOK SIN #8 Obvious romance plot going wrong is obvious.BOOK SIN #9 If the Kettral have to fight in groups, wouldn't it have been a good idea to include some group training in all those years? These guys are all a bunch of lone wolfs. Also, for an elite force they seem TERRIBLE at knowing stuff. Shouldn't they be very good at espionage and information?BOOK SIN #10 WHY DIDN'T THIS BOOK DELIVER ON THE AWESOME PROLOGUE!!To be honest there was one thing I loved from the book. It has awesome curses, swearwords and phrases. :DAlso, the worlbuilding seems nice, if overly convoluted at times, and the writing is really good. Will I read the second one? Maaaaaybe. If someone promises me Adare gets more page time.Would I recommend this? Actually yes. Give it a try. Make me feel even more lonely in my lonely dislike.

  • Hershey
    2019-03-13 11:44

    This is a great fantasy book. It surprised me a lot because I did not expect to fall for this book. Initially, I gave this book 5 stars but after my January 2015 re-read, I'm dropping a star because well, to be honest, certain parts bored me a little. The story is adventurous and extremely twisty. You cannot trust anyone. The world building was complex and so were the characters. I find it hard to believe that this was Staveley's debut novel because the writing style, the intricate world we're introduced to, the highly complex characters, et cetera seems like something an author whose had a lot of practice in writing high fantasy novels would provide. So, excellent work, Mr.Staveley! Just excellent!“There’s no blade as keen as surprise.”The story follows the life of the Emperor's three children. Kaden is sent to the monastery to train to be the next Emperor, Valyn is training to be a Kettral soldier and Adare is completely into politics. The story is told from their perspectives and it is definitely very enjoyable to switch between their stories. However, at times, I was a little bored by the pacing of this book. It would eventually pick up and I would slowly get sucked in by the numerous ploys the Empire faces and the several complications the main characters have to undergo.The story is not extremely vast and confusing and it focuses mainly on the Emperor's three children. It has a point, you know. It does not introduce a lot of concepts, just dumping it on the reader and then going back to where we left off in the beginning. It was executed very neatly with three goals in mind, one for each of the Emperor's children. I personally loved Adare's point of view because she was like a breath of fresh air. She was strong and bold and never weak like most of the female characters in high fantasy novels are portrayed as. Even though her appearance in this novel is not as much as I would have wanted to, I loved reading her views. I also immensely enjoyed Kaden's point of view because his training in the monastery was interesting! The concepts the Shin taught were very, very intriguing. Valyn's point of view was interesting and fun as well but I found myself dozing off at times.This book can sit right next to Game of Thrones on your shelf because it's as amazing as that! Fantasy readers out there would immensely enjoy this epic novel of adventure. To find out if this is going to be your next read or not let me direct you through a set of questions.Are you a high fantasy lover?Do you like complex world building?Do you like alternating point of views?Do you like rich writing?Do you like flawed yet amazing characters? Are you a fan of Game of thrones and Tolkien's works?If the answers are a resounding 'Yes', then you know what to do. If some of them are a sad 'No', well, I still suggest you pick this book up when you're in the mood for some fantasy.

  • Will M.
    2019-03-02 08:28

    When the goodreads choice award nominees were finally presented last Nov.3, I checked out the Fantasy section right away. I realized then that I haven't read a single Fantasy novel that was published in 2014. I decided to read at least 2, and The Emperor's Blade caught my attention the most. It had an interesting blurb and I was really expecting to love this. I even saw that most of my friends rated this 5 stars. All I want to ask now is, why?I really didn't like this novel as a whole. The writing was tedious and the plot could've been executed better. Let me rephrase that, with better characters, the plot would've been better. The plot was quite simple, but with simplicity should come competent execution. If you're going to give us something we might've read about before, make sure to add in some elements that would be noteworthy.Valyn, Kaden and Adare are the main characters of the novel. Evidently, Valyn had the most chapters of the three. That being said, his story should've been the most interesting. The thing is, his story was boring as hell. It was dragging and full of nonsense. At first I really liked what was happening to him, but as the novel progressed, boredom prevailed. Kaden should've been the star of the novel. His story was the most interesting of the three. All of the attention was given to Valyn, and that for me was the reason why I didn't like this novel. Kaden being the right heir to the throne, why wouldn't the readers want to know more of him instead of Valyn? I'm really hoping the next book wouldn't be about Valyn anymore. Adare was really interesting too. Her story was even more interesting than Valyn, and she only had a few chapters. Her parts showed the politics side of the novel. Her chapters gave me a feeling of reading about Greek/Roman mythology, and she was Athena with the wisdom and all. Not much action but still better than Valyn.Did I hate this novel?Almost. Am I planning on reading the sequel?I guess so. The ending was good anyway. Am I voting for this? Sorry, but no.This is one of the few novels wherein everybody loved it, and I didn't. I can pair this with The Name of The Wind as some of the most disappointing Fantasy novels I've read. Huge potential but terrible execution.

  • Choko
    2019-03-20 10:28

    *** 4.25 ***A buddy read with my assassins at BB&B! I think I have had the greatest luck in choosing books this new year! I feel lucky:) How can I not? The book I read just before this one was the first book of the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima and I was enchanted, now I read this one and I am in love all over again with what I consider to be the King of all genres, Fantasy!!! (In my opinion, the Queen is Historical Romance, but this is just me:):):) So, I had never heard of this author before, but the gorgeous cover sold me immediately, as well as the glowing reviews my GR friends gave this series. I was a bit slow to worm to the story, but in the moment we met the monks and their teachings, I was hooked!!! The Emperor of the land has been assassinated and we are introduced to his three children, who happen to be young adults, separated 8 years ago and all devoted into training supposed to help them with their future responsibilities. We get to meet Valyn, training for the empire’s Special Forces and having to deal with some co-cadets who like to show him he is not special, despite of his high birth. He learns of the death of his father and makes it his mission to discover what is going on. But first, he has to get through the training and the final test, which could prove deadly even for the best of them. The second sibling we meet, and he happens to have become my favorite, is the hair to the throne, young Kaden. I lovingly nicknamed him goat boy, because most of the time he is running in the heals of a mountain at the end of civilization, where he tends to and often looses goats (or sheep, honestly, I have not a clue) and has all together been treated like a village lad by the Blank God’s disciple monks. This is highly unusual, since when he was sent to the monastery, his father had told him that the monks are going to teach him something imperative to being a ruler and only they have the know-how to do it. He had expected education, but all they had given him were domestic chores, fixing roofs, hanging out with other accalates, even more distant from court life than him, and never-ending climes and runs around the mountains, mostly after escaped animals:) When it came to being prepared for court, politics and ruling, Kaden was anything but! However, he gets a new instructor, who despite beating him close to death, seems to be trying to brake not only his body, but his mind as well... The third, although oldest of the siblings, is the Emperor’s daughter, Minister Adare. Out of the three, she is best suited, trained and adapt for the throne, but she is a woman, and in this patriarchal society, she is blatantly overlooked. But she is smart, her father has honed her in the machinations of the aristocracy and she is going to do anything in her power to avenge his death. The action builds up slowly, the tension grows with every page, and I could not put it down, returning to the book every free moment I had free. Having the 3 POV's made the book feel a bit more textured than the standard classical Fantasy, so it had a fresher, newer feel to it. The writing was flawless, the characters flashed out, and there was plenty of world building and atmospherics. The secondary characters, particularly the female cadets, were wonderful and made the book even better. I loved every moment of it! Well, with all that love, why only 4.25 stars??? Because, despite being very aware of how much space authors have to give the characters of long series to grow, the two boys drove me insane at times with their less than stellar mind power!!! I know, I know, whatever happened to me claiming not to lower ratings because of artistic/author choices, since the books are their babies and they know what they are doing... It is not that I do not accept the "I started off a simple lad and grew to be a hero" model, the opposite - one of my always favorites. But I feel the same when I read the new testament and see the apostles asking questions from Jesus that a 4 year old would have the answers to - I feel like the reader's intelligence is being insulted, not only that of the characters... Young man should not always equal a borderline idiot, that is all I am saying:) Also, the couple of bad guys which we get to deal with, a bit shallow, not enough debt, but still good and making a point:) I am very happy to have discovered this series and will forever have this author on my radar now:)Thanks to all my buddy readers at BB&B and wish all of you happy reading!!!

  • Sarah
    2019-03-17 11:28

    Fantasy fans take note: The Emperor's Blades should be number one on your to-read list for 2014. I've been waiting to find my next great fantasy love, and this is most definitely it. I'm so excited for the rest of this series!If I had to describe it in terms of other series in the genre, I'd call The Emperor's Blades a cross between A Song of Ice and Fire and Tamora Pierce's The Lioness Quartet (and to a lesser extent Protector of the Small) with a healthy dash of Harry Potter thrown in for good measure. Much like Game of Thrones and The Lioness Quartet, the book is set in an ancient, vaguely medieval kingdom with a long and storied history. There's courtly intrigue, possibly extinct or apocryphal race/races that existed before men, some mysterious ancient gods, and magic that no one really understands. (In Emperor's Blades, those who wield magic are not only feared, they are actively persecuted.) There's a bit of an Iron Throne knock off (the Unhewn Throne), and a fair amount of political maneuvering that's been hinted at in book one, and is sure to be more fully explored in the sequels. The book is told from the point of view of the three teenage children of the emperor, whose assassination sets the plot in motion. The siblings have been separated for the past eight years, and are scattered across the vast empire. Valyn is preparing to join the Kettral, an elite army unit who fly across the empire on giant birds (it's cooler than it sounds). His brother Kaden, the heir to the throne, is training at an isolated mountain monastery, though no one will tell him how the monks' austere lifestyle is meant to prepare him to one day sit in his father's throne. (It's a doozy of a reveal, and one of Staveley's most original and unexpected ideas--the Kaden plot is what really makes this book sing, IMHO.) Their sister Adare has remained at home in the capital, learning the ins and outs of governance directly from her father. Upon his untimely death, she is named minister of finance in his will, but there was more that he had to teach her. (!!!) There are only a few Adare chapters, which works well because her plot is a bit Kings Landing-ish. The brothers' sections also include some common tropes, but they are well executed. Valyn assembles a somewhat rag-tag band of Kettral that, despite initially being a total disaster, show signs of becoming a crack team by the novel's end. Both brothers have tough but well-meaning mentors. Kaden is basically getting brutal Occulmancy lessons for half the novel, and much like Harry, he isn't informed of their true importance for quite awhile. Valyn's scenes are the most Harry Potter-like in general (although the whole training-to-become-a-warrior-of-the-realm thing is very Lioness Quartet). He's essentially taking classes, during which he and his best friend are often pitted against a Draco Malfoy-esque enemy with a Crabbe-and-Goyle crony (though that relationship is somewhat subverted in the end). He also has one instructor who appears to resent his princely-status to a Snape-like degree. Valyn and his buddies spend much of their free time trying to solve mysteries of an increasingly-apparent sinister nature without the help of adults. They also basically take their OWLs/NEWTs to become full-fledged members of the Kettral in what will make a great montage scene when this inevitably becomes a movie.The parallels to existing fantasy works are there, but the world that Staveley has created still feels fresh and original. For a first time author, he's done a remarkable job of introducing a wide cast of characters and a detailed mythos without relying on dragging exposition or red shirt placeholders. The plot here moves fast, and you won't want to put the book down. Basically, it's a total page-turner. The characters are also remarkably well-written. All three of the main characters are quite down to earth and easy to relate to considering they are the children of an emperor. Adare is a bit more haughty than the brothers, since she hasn't been yelled at by demanding instructors on a daily basis for eight years, but even she is pretty chill. The secondary characters each have fairly distinct personalities, and for those who are less fleshed out, you still get the sense that the author has bigger plans for them.By the novel's end there have been a couple of major revelations (new! enemies!), and all three of the main characters have been severely tested. For better or for worse, Adare, Kaden and Valyn each undergo significant character development, and are not the same people we met at the beginning of the novel. All in all, the conclusion does tie up the plot of book one in a satisfying manner, but still does a great job at setting up a sequel (which, let's face it, is a prerequisite of the genre these days, right?).In conclusion, everyone is going to be reading this, or I will eat my hat. I haven't been this excited by a new series without reading advanced praise for it since I pulled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone off the bottom shelf at a Scholastic book fair in 1998. This is 100% the real deal. Must. Read. Well done Staveley.

  • Kevin Xu
    2019-03-21 12:23

    The only reason I picked up and started this book was because I was send a free copy from my friend as he really wanted to see what everybody thought of the book was. This book is not what I expected. Not knowing anything about the book, and just judging from the cover and the friends I knew who had read the book I expected this to more epic fantasy like Brent Weeks or Sanderson, but was I wrong. This was in part maybe because Epic Fantasy all has to be huge door stoppers, which this one is certainly not. This is more of a blend of different genres that turned out to more of a murder mystery than anything else with military fantasy as the backdrop with a dash of religion. It is about murder of the emperor, and how that affects his 3 children, two boys and one girl spread across the world as they deal with their own problems and difficulties. One trying to figure out his own murders, while the others train and get ready for Hull's Trial. This was nothing really innovative, but it was a nice fun read that kept my attention all the way through that had just the right amount of detail and pacing. What I really did not expect was the book ending on a cliffhanger not really resolving the murder mystery, which was kind of expected since this is book 1 of a trilogy. Look forward on picking up and reading the sequel soon. Definitely a great debut, and a book I would recommend to others looking for a great fantasy that has enough of everything to keep the reader's attention of wanting more.

  • Armina
    2019-02-25 11:30

    4.5 STARSMy faith and my love for this read has been tested. It didn't WOW me from the beginning and I had my doubts and suspicions. There are flaws of course but the read never failed me! And I'm so grateful for that. There is so much more behind the ideas and the concepts in this book. You need a keen eye to see and to feel its depth. You can only start to grasp the whole scale of the read towards the end when you realize there is so much more ahead of our beloved three protagonists, behind the interesting magic and along with the revealing plots. And the final third part of the book was EPIC! I'm looking forward to the next books in this series. Great debut for Brian Staveley.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-02-25 07:31

    This book had languished on my "to be read" list for a fairly long time, as a LOT of books still are. They set there staring at me accusingly as I read other books. The reason is often that I bought the book and now it waits as I read library books. That said in the midst of a sort of reading slump, wishing for an involving read that I could sink into yes a book I could escape into I decided to read this book, relieve it's waiting.Lo and behold, this is an excellent read. I'm assuming you have read the synopsis. The Emperor is assassinated. His three children are separated. The the heir to the thrown is away living and being trained by a monastery of hard ascetic monks. The second son is away far from both the capitol and his older brother training to become a super elite soldier. The older sister lives at the capitol with her parents learning about taxes, food distribution, dealing with the day to day of the empire. And also dealing with the idea that even if she's the oldest a woman can't rule....The split point of view is not at all an unusual way to write a novel. It can be a tricky approach. I just finished a novel that (in my opinion) flubbed that way of writing a book badly. here however it works and it works well. I was interested in each and every one of them. the story grows naturally. The characters react as they most likely would react. That can of course be frustrating at people are frustrating.I can recommend this one. I think most who like fantasy will be drawn into it. It's neither wholly plot driven nor character driven but a good balance of both. As I said recommended, enjoy.

  • Lindsey Rey
    2019-03-21 09:44

    [4.5 Stars]That was great! Can't wait to read the sequel!

  • Bob Milne
    2019-02-26 08:29

    While we may only be a month into 2014, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that Brian Staveley may just have the debut of the year with The Emperor's Blades. This was a book that reminded me, in different ways, of my first encounters with the likes of Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss. It managed to feel fresh and original, yet familiar at the same time. I knew, before the first chapter was over, that I'd be reading this one cover to cover.Why? Well, for me, a really great fantasy novel must possess 4 things in order to succeed, and I'm pleased to say this covered them all.First, it has to have a strong narrative voice, one that's both intriguing and entertaining. I don't want to be educated, talked-down to, or dazzled with unnecessarily embellished language. When I read a fantasy novel I want to feel as if the author is sitting in the chair across from me, spinning a story that he or she is enjoying just as much as me - and that's exactly how I felt with Staveley. That's not to say this is a casual or conversational sort of novel, just that it flows well and naturally, driven by a man who loves the telling as much as the tale.Second, it must have compelling characters with either a slowly unveiled back story, or who grow and evolve through the story. With The Emperor's Blade we get a bit of both. Kaden, Valyn, and Adare, provide our entry into the story, with each chapter focusing on one of the Emperor's three children. Even though they are on the cusp of adulthood, there's still something of a coming-of-age story here, with the siblings growing significantly by the time the final page is turned. They're all strong characters, as admirable as they are likable. Each has been placed into a difficult situation, trapped there by duty and obligation, but even if there's some longing and resentment, there's no whining or endless complaining about their plight. Adare gets the least amount of page time here, and I'm sure some readers may frown at her role, I quite liked the way she was able to command a situation in which she's powerless to do more than watch and wait.As for the slowly unveiled back story, that belongs to their leaders and their teachers, to their friends and their foes. Staveley doesn't weight the story down with too many characters, but he invests his time in making each of them complex and well-rounded. You may hate some of them with a passion - particularly some of Valyn's fellow cadets- but you'll still find yourself anxious to learn their secrets.Third, a really great fantasy novel has to imbue me with that sense of awe or wonder. In some cases that's done with dragons or other mythical beasts, and in others it's done with acts magic or faith. There's a fine line between imbuing and overwhelming, however, and that's where so many authors miss their mark. Rather than putting the wondrous at the forefront, Staveley weaves it carefully into his story, keeping it secondary to the characters. There's the soaring birds that the Kettral ride into battle, and the ferocious slarn that live deep underground; there are leaches who can drawn on elemental and emotional elements for their power, and the monks who seem to have a very different power of their own; and then there's the old gods and the new gods, embracing different aspects of the realm in a really interesting dual mythology.Finally, above all else, I need a story that's as deeply layered as it is compelling. If there's anywhere Staveley stumbles a bit, it's here, but only because I suspect so much of the story is yet to be revealed. We see the world through the eyes of Kaden, Valyn, and Adare, so we don't have the opportunity to ferret out plots and conspiracies of which they're not aware. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed what Staveley did here, particularly with the plots and counter-plots revolving around all three characters. The plotting and backstabbing amongst the Kettral was exceptionally well-played, and it's been a while since I've cheered quite as strongly as I did for Adare against Uinian IV, Chief Priest of Intarra. As if it weren't enough that the Emperor has been assassinated, there are some very personal vendettas to be survived here, in addition to the royal ones, and the way in which they all cross in the end is as rewarding as it is surprising.Like I said, if this isn't the debut of 2014, then I'd really be surprised. This is epic fantasy for a new generation, gritty and grim at times, but never losing sight of the awe and the wonder. I'm honestly not sure where Staveley intends to take the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne next, but The Emperor's Blades has guaranteed a space on my shelf for subsequent volumes. Take a chance, pick it up, and read a few chapters - enough to meet all three offspring - and I guarantee you'll find yourself putting off other things to read 'just one more chapter' well into the night.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins