Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sharp enough

Finished "The Emperor's Blades" by Brian Staveley.

As fantasy stories go, I found it thoroughly-enjoyable. Staveley has created a fascinating world with an engaging mythology.

The story tracks the children of the Emperor of Annur:
  • Kaden, the heir being raised by the stern Shin monks.
  • Valyn, the only child without the unique "blazing eyes", being trained to be one of the Kettral, a group of super-soldiers who go on missions on giant birds.
  • Adare, the eldest and the only daughter, unable to take the throne but also the only one at the capitol when her father is murdered.
Essentially, the story breaks down into three distinct threads that follow each of the children, with Adare unfortunately getting the shortest amount of attention. A shame, 'cause there was potential there. The main focus is on Kaden and Valyn, and most of the book is about the crazy training they go through.

It's solid enough fare. I kind of wish Staveley had focused on one character more instead of all three, but it did help break the book up a bit to jump off to the others.

I really only have two complaints, and they're more personal issues than anything else:
  • His protagonists are anything but super-capable. That's fine, really. It's good to have flawed protagonists, but I think he bent a little bit backwards in making everyone else better than they are. Their victories are few, far between, and very abrupt. It would have been nice to give the characters a little more badassery.
  • There's an excess of sociopaths in the story. Reads a little bit like a Joe Ambercrombie book in that sense, though Abercrombie's characters are less-sociopaths and more just luckless.
That said, it was a fun read. I'm looking forward to the next book.

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