The Emperorâ€™s Blades by Brian Staveley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This had been on my list for awhile (I even had a promotional ebook of the first 7 chapters on my iPad since release), but it took awhile to actually slate it into the reading schedule! Iâ€™m glad I did, though, as itâ€™s an extremely interesting world here. Even though we only follow 3 perspectives in this book (a welcome respite from 100s of PoVs), I got a real sense of scale from the pieces dropped. Each character, 3 siblings, giving a different facet of the world. From Valyn, you get the war and conflict side of the world, from Adare you get the political side within the capitol, and Kaden delves into the history and mythology of the world.
A few things were unfortunately obvious in the plot, but they didnâ€™t lessen my enjoyment of the story. I wonâ€™t go into those, though. Usually I would tend to favor Kadenâ€™s story as it deals with the mythology, but I found myself eager to get back to Valynâ€™s story every time, as itâ€™s the most twisty and detailed. I say this while seeing Valyn as a bit of a jerk. He has no wider view tempering his attitudes and it makes him short sighted at times. That said, itâ€™s a tight storyline. Kaden definitely has the most eye-opening revelatory passages, but the actual story can be a little boring by itâ€™s nature. Adareâ€¦I like Adare as a character, but she has the most passive story with the smallest amount of pages (perhaps 5 chapters total of 50? Thatâ€™s what it felt like). She does a pretty intense moment, though that I was shocked by.
A large caveat is that Iâ€™m giving Staveley the benefit of the doubt with the first book being a fairly grimdark chauvinist perspective, with lots of mentions of whores and slaves that are commonly accepted across the empire. The offhanded way that slaves are referenced by main characters (ostensibly our heroes) is particularly disturbing. I dislike the idea that every â€śdarkâ€ť fantasy book has to have a perspective that â€ślife sucks, this happens in pseudo-medieval times, people are nasty.â€ť It doesnâ€™t have to be that way and a large responsibility of heroes is to see that perspective.
Regardless, Iâ€™m excited to read the rest of the trilogy and canâ€™t wait to find out what is going on in the wider world.
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