The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne)
by Brian Staveley
Cover Artist: Richard Anderson
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765336408
Date: 14 January 2014 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The children of the emperor are spread throughout the world. Each learning skills which will help them to their future. When the emperor is slain each one is in the line of fire. The plot involves many people, they canít trust anyone.
Kaden is the heir to the throne. He is beyond the borders of the empire studying at a monastery. He is learning the arcane knowledge of this old order. Each step of his studies brings him closer to skills that he will need to survive and face his enemies.
Kaden's brother Valyn is also learning skills that will be needed. The skills Valyn is learning are much more martial. He is learning to be part of the elite forces of the empire. He learns of the plot against his family recognizing that he must try to finish his training before someone can arrange for his death. Collateral death is not a problem for his enemies, so anyone near him is at risk.
Their sister Adare, is still in the capital. She recognizes that she is at risk. As a woman she must work harder to have an effect on policy. Plots within plots could leave her near someone she shouldn't trust.
The Byzantine machinations of this empire are reminiscent of the deadly plotting found in the popular Game of Thrones series. I am not sure that the children are at risk as they would be in Martin's world. Staveley is willing to end his tale with a little hope, but a lot of danger.
The action follows the three children of the emperor. There are a few additional points of view that help fill in information that the reader needs to follow the plot. At the start, the main characters are spread throughout the world. As the tale unfolds the action will start to bring the various characters together.
The Emperor's Blades is the start of a new epic fantasy series. The story unfolds with the gradual revelation of the plots and the revelation of some of the people involved in the slaying of the emperor. I enjoyed the character development. Each member of the family reacts differently to the threats that come for them. The sons have a strong group of supporting characters. The choices that these associates make are not always those that the main characters would want. These situations clear away the preconceptions of each of the youths.
There is a long way to go in the story arc. The plots involved are much deeper and the enemies will not be who everyone expects.