Review: The Emperor’s Blades. Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne 1 by Brian Staveley

The Emperor’s Bladesblades

568 pages
Tor
published in 2014

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 prepare to unmask a conspiracy. His son Valyn, training for the empire’s deadliest fighting force, hears the news an ocean away. And after several ‘accidents’ and a dying soldier’s warning, he realizes his life is also in danger. Yet before Valyn can act, he must survive the mercenaries’ brutal final initiation.

The Emperor’s daughter, Minister Adare, hunts her father’s murderer in the capital. Court politics can be fatal, but she needs justice. Lastly Kaden, heir to the empire, studies in a remote monastery. Here, the Blank God’s disciples teach their harsh ways, which Kaden must master to unlock ancient powers. But when an imperial delegation arrives, has he learnt enough to keep him alive, as long-hidden powers make their move?

This is one of the books I was very much looking forward to and was also sure that I would love it. Unfortunately it couldn’t live up to my expectations and was a pretty weak read.

The story is told from three different perspectives and covers all three of the King’s children. Kaden, the heir, is living far away in a monastery, Valyn is training to be an elite soldier and Adare is the only one who is staying in the capital. There she is involved in the political schemes of the city after the murder of her father.

In the following story we get to know those 3 and learn what they are doing and how they coped with the news of their father’s death. Of course there is a big conspiracy somewhere and all of them seem to be in danger now.

My problem with the book was that so much didn’t make sense and was unbelievable.

Let’s start with Kaden. A 17-year-old boy who arrived at the monastery when he was 9 and also heir of the Annurian Empire. We learn that the monks are taught to shut out their emotions and paint very accurate pictures. So far so good but Kaden seems like he did very little in those 8 years and admits that he doesn’t have a clue about why he is there and what the monks want of him. I am with him there. I don’t understand why the heir of an empire has to live far away in the mountains between goats and sheep and doesn’t have any idea about what’s going on in the capital. They don’t teach him how to rule or anything related to that.

We soon find out that there’s some evil magic going on somewhere and the monks are afraid that it could spill over into their world. They are also the only ones standing between it and their world and they want Kaden to learn a technique that would help them fight it. They only tell him that after he’s been there for 8 years.

The way they train Kaden was so over the top and just not believable at all. How can someone who has been buried up to his neck for a week and only had water to drink show almost no reaction to that?

Kaden stayed pretty boring throughout the whole book up until the end where he shows a development that doesn’t seem credible at all..

His brother Valyn is even more annoying as he is training to be a soldier and described as quite capable and ready to command.. His actions show us the exact opposite as he mostly makes stupid decisions, isn’t very clever and whines a lot. Those scenes clashed a lot with those where the author decided to depict Valyn as a total badass. Almost as if I was reading about 2 different characters. I didn’t like it. His storyline is a little more packed with action than Kaden’s as Valyn and his friends try to uncover a conspiracy within their ranks.

I didn’t like how the antagonist was presented as it was all way too obvious and thrown at us. The author describes and describes how evil and arrogant he is but we don’t see any actions for most of the book.

This is a main problem though. There is not enough showing and way too much telling. And when there is showing it contradicts the telling. Hm.

I liked Adare’s storyline the most as it features some interesting characters and situations. Unfortunately there are only a few chapters about her and most of the book centers around Valyn and Kaden. Also Adare herself is a very self-centered and stupid character who thinks she should be the one in charge but does nothing that would strengthen her claim. Like her brothers she keeps acting like a spoiled brat.

I won’t read on, no way. Boring characters, lazy writing with too many logical mistakes, developments and actions that are not believable at all and not enough showing.

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