Review: Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell



Spellslinger

Book One of Spellslinger

by Sebastien de Castell

Fantasy | 416 Pages | Published by Hot Key Books in 2017


| Rating |


With powerful mages, card-throwing wanderers and an unseen enemy, Sebastien de Castell’s first foray into young adult fantasy is an undeniable success. In a world defined by magic and a person’s ability to wield it, Spellslinger takes the reader on an exciting journey which blurs the lines between those who would be friends, those who are family and those who may become enemies.

Witty and absorbing, this novel tells the tale of a boy whose steady loss of power culminates in a dangerous confrontation with his own people and, through a series of unpredictable twists and turns, exhibits an extraordinary flare for adventure from beginning to end.

There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.

MAGIC IS A CON GAME…

Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage’s duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is gone.

As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. 

Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi – a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She’s difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen’s only hope… 

At the age of sixteen, all young Jan’Tep must face their greatest trial: the mage’s trial. The outcome of which will determine those that will assume ultimate power, wielding great magic and respected from afar, and those that will become Sha’Tep, the serving underclass of Jan’Tep society.

Kellen’s magic has dwindled over the years to next to nothing. He hasn’t broken any of his mage’s bands, he can barely perform a simple spell, and to make matters worse his little sister is likely to become one of the most powerful mages of all time.

Bullied by those who think him beneath them, abandoned by those he would have considered friends, Kellen is left with only his meagre powers, a dash of cunning, and sheer dumb luck to get him through his trials.

But when a strange frontierswoman turns up to help Kellen out of his trouble, he finds his path taking an altogether unexpected turn… for better or worse, only time will tell.

De Castell has created a vivid and ruthless society whose own sense of superiority has rendered them an isolated state. The world of the Jan’Tep is a world where a person’s magical ability defines their very place in the social order. A people who consider their own culture and society as the pinnacle of refinement and power, the Jan’Tep see those beyond their borders as outsiders, whose weakness is made apparent by their lack of power.

Those within Jan’Tep society who fail to display any magical prowess are doomed to become Sha’Tep. Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters; all are parted when the magic in one fails to appear in the other. Those who are lucky may take a serving position in what was once their home. Those who are not are forced to work in the mines.

As skilfully as Jan’Tep society is wrought; where the arrogance that permeates their culture, even amongst Kellen’s own family and friends, threatens to make them all appear as an unreasonable and tyrannical culture, the characterisation of the principle cast is where the novel and the overarching plot truly excels. De Castell has created a cast of true and varied characters whose humour and apparent deficiencies carry the story to its dramatic conclusion.

As both protagonist and narrator, Kellen is a witty and self-deprecating companion throughout the novel. What he lacks in magical proficiency he more than makes up for in cunning, wit and in his ability for getting the backs up of almost every person he comes across. And though he drives the other Jan’Tep mages to distraction, and perhaps even his friends half the time, he is an instantly likeable character which makes the injustice of his situation all the more potent.

His companions, Ferius Parfax, an Argosi wanderer whose proficiency in both playing cards and using them as a deadly weapon is more than a little disconcerting, and Reichis, a squirrel cat who has a penchant for thievery, violence and eating his enemies eyeballs, are arguably my two favourite characters, creating a strange and humorous sense of comradery which only becomes more interesting as the novel develops.

Spellslinger succeeds in combining this interesting cast of characters with an exciting and unpredictable plotline, whose twists and turns never fail to turn up a surprise or two. Skillfully plotted and wonderfully executed, de Castell writes in a personable, almost conversational tone which creates a distinct connection with Kellen and emphasises the injustices which permeate Jan’Tep society.

The first in the Spellslinger series is a thoroughly enjoyable read which leaves me eager to join Kellen in future adventures. Brimming with magic, humour and more than a little danger, de Castell has created another novel which never fails to leave a lasting impression.

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Teaser Tuesdays: March 27


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: March 27 |

Nevernight

Book One of The Nevernight Chronicle

by Jay Kristoff

Fantasy | 448 Pages | Published by Harper Voyager in 2016


“She stepped into the pool without a word, the blood thick and warm between her toes. The tile was smooth, and she had to walk slowly lest she slip, out waist-deep into the centre of the red.

~ Chapter 16: Walk | 38% | Nevernight by Jay Kristoff


| Synopsis |

From New York Times bestselling author, Jay Kristoff, comes a dangerous new fantasy world and a heroine edged in darkness.

Mia Corvere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Destined to destroy empires, the child raised in shadows made a promise on the day she lost everything: to avenge herself on those that shattered her world.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, and Mia must become a weapon without equal. Before she seeks vengeance, she must seek training among the infamous assassins of the Red Church of Itreya.

Inside the Church’s halls, Mia must prove herself against the deadliest of opponents and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and daemons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Church is no ordinary school. But Mia is no ordinary student.

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The Hobbit

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Fantasy | 306 Pages | Published by HarperCollins in 1995


He had picked his way stealthily for some distance, when he noticed a place of dense black shadow ahead of him, black even for that forest, like a patch of midnight that had never been cleared away. As he drew nearer, he saw that it was made by spider-webs one behind and over and tangled with another.

~ Chapter VIII: Flies and Spiders | Page 156 | The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


| Synopsis |

The Hobbit is a tale of high adventure, undertaken by a company of dwarves in search of dragon-guarded gold. A reluctant partner in this perilous quest is Bilbo Baggins, a comfort-loving unambitious hobbit, who surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and skill as a burglar.

Encounters with trolls, goblins, dwarves, elves and giant spiders, conversations with the dragon, Smaug, and a rather unwilling presence at the Battle of Five Armies are just some of the adventures that befall Bilbo.

Bilbo Baggins has taken his place among the ranks of the immortals of children’s fiction. Written by Professor Tolkien for his own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when published.

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  • Grab your current read
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  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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Teaser Tuesdays: March 20


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: March 20 |

Dogs of War

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Science Fiction | 262 Pages | Published by Head of Zeus in 2017


“Revelation clicked into place in de Sejos’ head: not a pleasant moment. A second before she had been surrounded by monsters, but at least they had notional leashes; at least there was a human face somewhere behind them that she might have negotiated with.

~ Chapter 15: De Sejos| 33% | Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky


| Synopsis |

My name is Rex. I am a good dog.

Rex is also seven foot tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy calibre weaponry and his voice resonates with subsonics especially designed to instil fear. With Dragon, Honey and Bees, he’s part of a Multiform Assault Pack operating in the lawless anarchy of Campeche, south-eastern Mexico.

Rex is a genetically engineered Bioform, a deadly weapon in a dirty war. He has the intelligence to carry out his orders and feedback implants to reward him when he does. All he wants to be is a Good Dog. And to do that he must do exactly what Master says and Master says he’s got to kill a lot of enemies.

But who, exactly, are the enemies? What happens when Master is tried as a war criminal? What rights does the Geneva Convention grant weapons? Do Rex and his fellow Bioforms even have a right to exist? And what happens when Rex slips his leash?

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The Hobbit

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Fantasy | 306 Pages | Published by HarperCollins in 1995


“That is Mr. Baggins, a hobbit of good family and impeachable reputation,” said Gandalf. Bilbo bowed. He had no hat to take off, and was painfully conscious of his many missing buttons.

~ Chapter VII: Queer Lodgings | Page 117 | The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


| Synopsis |

The Hobbit is a tale of high adventure, undertaken by a company of dwarves in search of dragon-guarded gold. A reluctant partner in this perilous quest is Bilbo Baggins, a comfort-loving unambitious hobbit, who surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and skill as a burglar.

Encounters with trolls, goblins, dwarves, elves and giant spiders, conversations with the dragon, Smaug, and a rather unwilling presence at the Battle of Five Armies are just some of the adventures that befall Bilbo.

Bilbo Baggins has taken his place among the ranks of the immortals of children’s fiction. Written by Professor Tolkien for his own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when published.

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  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
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  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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Friday Firsts: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: March 16 |

Binti

Book One of the Binti Series

by Nnedi Okorafor

Science Fiction| 96 Pages | Published by Tor in 2015


| First Paragraphs |

I powered up the transporter and said a silent prayer. I had no idea what I was going to do if it didn’t work. My transporter was cheap, so even a droplet of moisture, or more likely, a grain of sand, would cause it to short. It was faulty and most of the time I had to restart it over and over before it worked. Please not now, please not now, I thought.

The transporter shivered in the sand and I held my breath. Tiny, flat, and black as a prayer stone, it buzzed softly and then slowly rose from the sand. Finally, it produced the baggage-lifting force. I grinned. Now I could make it to the shuttle. I swiped otjize from my forehead with my index finger and knelt down. Then I touched the finger to the sand, grounding the sweet smelling red clay into it. “Thank you,” I whispered. It was a half-mile walk along the dark desert road. With the transporter working, I would make it there on time.

Straightening up, I paused and shut my eyes. Now the weight of my entire life was pressing on my shoulders. I was defying the most traditional part of myself for the first time in my entire life. I was leaving in the dead of night and they had no clue. My nine siblings, all older than me except for my younger sister and brother, would never see this coming. My parents would never imagine I’d do such a thing in a million years. By the time they all realized what I’d done and where I was going, I’d have left the planet. In my absence, my parents would growl to each other that I was to never set foot in their home again. My four aunties and two uncles who lived down the road would shout and gossip among themselves about how I’d scandalized our entire bloodline. I was going to be a pariah.

“Go,” I softly whispered to the transporter, stamping my foot. The thin metal rings I wore around each ankle jingled noisily, but I stamped my foot again. Once on, the transporter worked best when I didn’t touch it. “Go,” I said again, sweat forming on my brow. When nothing moved, I chanced giving the two large suitcases sitting atop the force field a shove. They moved smoothly and I breathed another sigh of relief. At least some luck was on my side.

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| First Impressions |

This novella had been on my bookshelf for far too long and, after hearing so many good things about it, it was about time I dusted it off and set to reading.

And even from the opening paragraphs, Binti does not disappoint. Questions are raised – Who is this girl? Where is she going? Why will she be considered an outcast if she leaves? – and the small points of detail in the description marking out the landscape and the girl’s belongings make this a novella I don’t expect to put down!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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Teaser Tuesdays: March 13


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: March 13 |

Binti

Book One of the Binti Series

by Nnedi Okarafor

Science Fiction| 96 Pages | Published by Tor in 2015


I motioned to the shrivelled dead one two feet away; its mushy flesh had dried and begun to turn brown and opaque. It had tried to take me and then something made it die. Bits of it crumbled to dust as I spoke, the mere vibration of my voice enough to destabilise the remains.

~ 22 % | Binti by Nnedi Okarafor


| Synopsis |

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

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The Hobbit

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Fantasy | 306 Pages | Published by HarperCollins in 1995


“They limped along now as fast as they were able down the gentle slopes of a pine forest in a slanting path leading steadily southwards. At times they were pushing through a sea of bracken with tall fronds rising right above the hobbit’s head; at times they were marching along quiet as quiet over a floor of pine-needles; and all the while the forest-gloom got heavier and the forest-silence deeper.”

~ Chapter VI: Out Of The Frying-Pan Into The Fire | Page 98 | The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


| Synopsis |

The Hobbit is a tale of high adventure, undertaken by a company of dwarves in search of dragon-guarded gold. A reluctant partner in this perilous quest is Bilbo Baggins, a comfort-loving unambitious hobbit, who surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and skill as a burglar.

Encounters with trolls, goblins, dwarves, elves and giant spiders, conversations with the dragon, Smaug, and a rather unwilling presence at the Battle of Five Armies are just some of the adventures that befall Bilbo.

Bilbo Baggins has taken his place among the ranks of the immortals of children’s fiction. Written by Professor Tolkien for his own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when published.

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| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

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Teaser Tuesdays: February 20


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: February 20 |

Spellslinger

Book One of Spellslinger

by Sebastien de Castell

Fantasy | 416 Pages | Published by Hot Key Books in 2017


“She said nothing in reply, merely leaned back in her chair, looking placidly at the wall in front of her as if it were a peaceful vista. The spells lighting up he skin beneath the silken fabrics she wore shifted and shimmered, her features changing back and forth, sometimes young and beautiful, almost innocent. Other times she looked as old as every one of her three hundred years.

~ Chapter 31: The Cell | 64% | Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell


| Synopsis |

There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is simply to reach the age of sixteen. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.

Magic is a con game.

Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage’s duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There’s just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi – a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She’s difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen’s only hope…

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The Hobbit

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Fantasy | 306 Pages | Published by HarperCollins in 1995


Bilbo never forgot the way they slithered and slipped in the dusk down the steep zig-zag path into the secret valley of Rivendell. The air grew warmer as they got lower, and the smell of the pine-trees made him drowsy, so that every now and again he nodded and nearly fell off, or bumped his nose on the pony’s neck.

~ Chapter III: A Short Rest | Page 47 | The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


| Synopsis |

The Hobbit is a tale of high adventure, undertaken by a company of dwarves in search of dragon-guarded gold. A reluctant partner in this perilous quest is Bilbo Baggins, a comfort-loving unambitious hobbit, who surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and skill as a burglar.

Encounters with trolls, goblins, dwarves, elves and giant spiders, conversations with the dragon, Smaug, and a rather unwilling presence at the Battle of Five Armies are just some of the adventures that befall Bilbo.

Bilbo Baggins has taken his place among the ranks of the immortals of children’s fiction. Written by Professor Tolkien for his own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when published.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

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Waiting on Wednesday: King of Ashes


Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme linking Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking The Spine and Can’t Wait Wednesday by Wishful Endings


| Waiting on Wednesday: February 14 |

King of Ashes

Book One of the Firemane Saga

by Raymond E. Feist


A new novel from internationally bestselling author Raymond E. Feist.

The world of Garn once boasted five great kingdoms, until the King of Ithrace was defeated and every member of his family executed by Lodavico, the ruthless King of Sandura, a man with ambitions to rule the world.

Ithrace’s ruling family were the legendary Firemanes, and represented a great danger to the other kings. Now four great kingdoms remain, on the brink of war. But rumour has it that the newborn son of the last king of Ithrace survived, carried off during battle and sequestered by the Quelli Nacosti, a secret society whose members are trained to infiltrate and spy upon the rich and powerful throughout Garn. Terrified that this may be true, and that the child will grow to maturity with bloody revenge in his heart, the four kings have placed a huge bounty on the child’s head.

In the small village of Oncon, Declan is apprenticed to a master blacksmith, learning the secrets of producing the mythical king’s steel. Oncon is situated in the Covenant, a neutral region lying between two warring kingdoms. Since the Covenant was declared, the region has existed in peace, until violence explodes as slavers descend upon the village to capture young men to press as soldiers for Sandura.

Declan must escape, to take his priceless knowledge to Baron Daylon Dumarch, ruler of Marquensas, perhaps the only man who can defeat Lodavico of Sandura, who has now allied himself with the fanatical Church of the One, which is marching across the continent, imposing its extreme form of religion upon the population and burning unbelievers as they go.

Meanwhile, on the island of Coaltachin, the secret domain of the Quelli Nacosti, three friends are being schooled in the deadly arts of espionage and assassination: Donte, son of one of the most powerful masters of the order; Hava, a serious girl with fighting abilities that can set any opponent on their back; and Hatu, a strange, conflicted lad in whom fury and calm war constantly, whose hair is a bright and fiery shade of red…


To be published by Harper Voyager on 05th April 2018 (UK) | 08th May 2018 (US)

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Review: The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley



The Emperor’s Blades

Book One of the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne

by Brian Staveley

Fantasy | 569 Pages | Published by Tor in 2014


| Rating |


Conspiracy. Murder. Treachery. In this debut fantasy from Brian Staveley the intricacies of empire, the loyalty between family, friends and comrades, and the human spirit are pushed to breaking point in pursuit of truth, vengeance and the unknown. Staveley has crafted a compelling narrative which twists and turns through dangerous lands and treasonous plots. With incredible, fluid detail, The Emperor’s Blades is a stunningly addictive debut which captures both the heart and the imagination.

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?

With cover art worthy of the Old Gods themselves, the first in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne opens up a rich world of sumptuous palaces, bleak mountains and treacherous islands. As Emperor Sanlitun hui’Malkeenian falls to an assassin’s blade, the fate of an empire rests on the heirs to the Malkeenian line – Kaden, heir apparent and acolyte to the Shin Monks; Valyn, cadet of the elite Kettral wing; and Adare, Royal Princess and Chief Minister of Finance of the Annurian Empire.

As suspicious accidents, cruel deaths and nightmarish creatures haunt the Malkeenian heirs; mind, body and spirit are pushed to breaking point through a series of gruelling punishments, impossible tasks and questionable loyalties. As treason spreads in the heart of Annur, Adare’s home has little distinction between palace and prison; and with only a matter of time before Kaden becomes the assassin’s next victim, Valyn must find the strength to survive Hull’s Trial and find a way off the Qirin Islands… before family and empire are all but lost.

Worlds apart, the lives of the three heirs to the Malkeenian line divides the novel into three perilous locations. The harsh and unforgiving Bone Mountains, home to the Shin monks of Ashk’lan, where acolytes seek to unlock long hidden powers through strength and stillness of body and mind; The dangerous Qirin Islands, a haven for the criminal underbelly and training grounds of the Kettral, an elite military wing famed for their stealth, deception, brute strength and speed; and the capital of the Empire, Annur, as sumptuous as it is treacherous, where the military, ministers and priests vie for power.

The Emperor’s Blades succeeds in detailing these locations through a wealth of history, back story and the intricacies of culture and religion, which all play a pivotal role in underpinning both the narrative and its character. But while the intrigues of court in the heart of Annur and the strange powers which reveal themselves amongst the Shin monks are an integral and exciting element of the story, the grit and spirit of the novel, for me, really comes across amongst the Kettral of the Qirin Islands. The hardship of training, the (sometimes grudging) camaraderie,  and the ever present danger build edge-of-the-seat tension and make for an exhilarating read.

Yet while the worldbuilding in The Emperor’s Blades truly makes for a rich and expansive novel, and the writing rapts all attention, the real strength throughout the narrative is the characterisation, in particular that of the protagonists. The children of Sanliitun hui’Malkeenian are as different as the locations they’ve grown up in, but each has a wilfulness and strength of character that endears the reader to them and had me championing all three throughout.

Adare, surrounded by those she cannot tell from friend or foe, is clever and calculating but as a princess and a woman must constantly prove her worth to ensure her position is not lost. Valyn, trained by the most elite warriors of the empire, must undergo gruelling physical tests while seeking out those who would betray him  from amongst his own sword-brothers. Kaden, who lives a secluded life under the tutelage – and frequent punishment – of the Shin monks, is innocent to much of the scheming and treachery which plagues his siblings but, as rightful Emperor, faces the most danger of all.

These three characters are the focal point from which loyalty and betrayal, and strength and weakness radiate; characters which, as a reader, I found utterly captivating. This richly detailed novel, which maintains a pace reminiscent of action novels and which consistently draws you back in, has become one of my favourite reads of the past few years. This is a blade wielding, heart pounding and tear jerking triumph, and my investment in Staveley’s creation remains wholeheartedly assured.

The Emperor’s Blades is a fast-paced, exhilarating read whose characters exhibit great depth and realism, whose world is dangerous, beautiful and delightfully complex, and whose writing is simply stunning. I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on its sequel, The Providence of Fire.

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Teaser Tuesdays: February 06


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: February 06 |

The Grace of Kings

Book One of The Dandelion Dynasty

by Ken Liu

Fantasy | 641 Pages | Published by Head of Zeus in 2015


Kuni looked at Mata, standing atop the walls like some arrogant hero of the Diaspora Wars, careless of the volleys of arrows that flew around him, and his heart was filled with admiration. Indeed, everyone was mortal in a terrifying world, but one could choose to live like Mata Zyndu and fight with no doubt, or cower in fear and indecision and let error compound on error.

~ Chapter 22: Battle of Zudi | Page 238 | The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu


| Synopsis |

Two men rebel together against tyranny—and then become rivals—in this first sweeping book of an epic fantasy series from Ken Liu, recipient of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

Fans of intrigue, intimate plots, and action will find a new series to embrace in the Dandelion Dynasty.

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The Hobbit

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Fantasy | 306 Pages | Published by HarperCollins in 1995


As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and a jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.

~ Chapter I: An Unexpected Party | Page 15 | The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


| Synopsis |

The Hobbit is a tale of high adventure, undertaken by a company of dwarves in search of dragon-guarded gold. A reluctant partner in this perilous quest is Bilbo Baggins, a comfort-loving unambitious hobbit, who surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and skill as a burglar.

Encounters with trolls, goblins, dwarves, elves and giant spiders, conversations with the dragon, Smaug, and a rather unwilling presence at the Battle of Five Armies are just some of the adventures that befall Bilbo.

Bilbo Baggins has taken his place among the ranks of the immortals of children’s fiction. Written by Professor Tolkien for his own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when published.

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