Published by Tor Books on January 14th 2014
Book one in an epic fantasy of intrigue and empire, for fans of George R. R. Martin and Douglas Hulick.
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’ 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?
As I sit here, having just finished reading The Emperors Blades, TRYING to formulate this review no words are coming to mind. Well, words come to mind but they all seem to jumble up and no COHERENT words come to mind. So, I’m going to take a second and begin.
Okay, here goes.
The beginning of the story gripped me from the very beginning. There are only a handful of books that completely and totally engross me in their stories quite like The Emperor’s Blades did (and still is because it is indeed a trilogy). Like the above little synopsis of the book explains, the story circulates between three children of the recently murdered Emperor (don’t worry that isn’t a spoiler, it happens pretty much at the very beginning). Eight years from the start of the story the siblings were all set on to their own paths, separated, and all groomed to do their own important tasks for the empire. Sounds like a typical fantasy novel right? This is where the typical aspect ends. Drops off a cliff.
I’m going to warn you, if you like action packed, seat of your pants action The Emperor’s Blades is probably not the book for you. This book is driven by character growth and a big “mystery” and so if you aren’t in the mood for that go ahead and pick another book.
With that being said, let’s begin with the characters:
First, there is Adare, the oldest child who was unfortunate enough to be born a woman. This negates (as in many fantasy novels) her ability to be the heir. As the only child who remains with her father Adare spends the majority of her life attempting to make her father proud by learning finance and political maneuvering. I won’t give too much of her character away, but she has a lot of growing up and unfortunately is one of the reasons this book did not reach a five-star rating with me. There was so little of her story that I raged sometimes at the unfairness. It seemed at times that because her brothers (I’ll get to them in a second) had more “action” packed roles that they gained more screen time than Adare. Believe me, she needs more time on screen!
Next, we have Kaden, the heir to the throne. For some unknown reason he was sent off to train at a monastery by the Shin. The Shin value discipline above all else and have no qualms with the fact that their next Emperor is a student. Kaden gets smacked, hit, cut, and at one point buried. Why? Well you’ll have to find that out, but just know that these monks are C-R-A-Z-Y. There are some scenes that just floored me about how people treated Kaden (you know being the next RULER and all) and I will talk about those later because I am still a little halfsies on whether or not I liked that or not.
Lastly, but certainly not least there is Valyn, the youngest of the three who has been sent away to join the military elite called the Kettral – the special forces or Navy Seals of the Annurian Empire. While I enjoyed Valyn’s storyline he is the character that I found the most frustration with personally and I still am wracking my brain with as to why. There wasn’t really anything wrong with him and maybe it was some of the characters that surrounded him that made me pause. Especially Ha Lin but I’m not going to give anything away quite yet.
So there you have pretty much what this story is about. It is a slower type of book and focuses on the personal growth from sons and daughters of a king to what they were meant to be. Now, like I said above my ONE little pickle of a problem with this story was how these children were treated. Now, I’m glad that for once a story did not involve pampered spoiled rotten sons or daughters of royalty. What I DO have an issue with is that EVERYONE seems to have this idea that they can and will treat these children HOWEVER they want to with no consequences. It’s crazy to me that there isn’t more half and half, people who don’t like them because their royalty and those who want to butt kiss, especially considering they are getting older.
Sorry for the overlong review, but I honestly think that you should give The Emperor’s Blades a try. It is a gripping and fantastic start (and debut) to a fantastic sounding series!