Book Review: The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley (Three Stars)

Book Review: The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #1) by Brian Staveley

Three Stars

(Potential spoilers)

“There is no should; there is only what is.”

As I read the opening chapters of this book I kept asking myself if I’d read it before. My Goodreads.com database reported I hadn’t, but it sure felt familiar. Having read all 480 pages I’m sure it is a new story, but many of the elements are familiar.

“No blade is as keen as surprise.”

Perhaps the familiarity stems from this story including all the current de rigueur epic fantasy tropes (and a few borrowed from science fiction): all of them. Nihilism. Maps. Mysterious murders. Ninjas. Assassin orders. Inscrutable monks. Yoda. Alien monsters. Extinct super races. Hints of extraterrestrial origins. Aphorisms. Rigid soldiers. Sadistic trainers. Hypocritical churchman. Lesbian waifs. Gentle-hearted giants. Prideful nobles. Incredibly accurate archers. Traitors. Magicians. Blood by the gallon. All it lacks are lions and tigers and bears. Oh, my.

“Every son should have a chance to know his father, not as a child knows his protector, but as a man knows a man.”

All that and a decent plot. Good storytelling and character development. Not too many typographical errors, which should be a given but isn’t these days.

“Resist faith. Resist trust. Believe in what you touch with your hands. The rest is error and air.”

Uncommon for series these days, it even brings the current volume to a satisfying close while sets hooks to draw the read into the next.

“Low expectations are the key to success.”

Why only three stars? Because it’s all been done. Almost every twist and turn felt like a re-run. It was good; it was competent; it didn’t hook my heart. I liked it, I just didn’t love it.

“A man wants to die with his limbs and his dignity intact.”

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