I enjoyed aspects of this, but it was missing a certain je-ne-sais-quoi. The angle Miller takes is interesting, but I was ultimately unmoved by the deI enjoyed aspects of this, but it was missing a certain je-ne-sais-quoi. The angle Miller takes is interesting, but I was ultimately unmoved by the denouement. I still do not understand why Achilles and Patroclus love each other, especially given their relations with Deidameia. The writing, while clean and clear, didn't strike me as particularly genius, either.
Staveley started strong with The Emperor's Blades, but ended with grimdark for the sake of grimdark (as so many other reviewers have eloquently pointeStaveley started strong with The Emperor's Blades, but ended with grimdark for the sake of grimdark (as so many other reviewers have eloquently pointed out). I kept with this book primarily because I wanted to see how everything ended for our protagonists, but I can't say I was pleased with the results.
Where to begin? Ah. Let's start with the writing itself. Staveley is a competent wordsmith, but he falls back on certain phrases that become incredibly repetitive and annoying after 1,500 pages. Phrases such as:
•He spread his hands. •The ambit of the wall. •The vast emptiness of the vaniate. •The adjective of the noun. The adjective noun of the noun. The adjective noun of the adjective noun. This is especially glaring in The Last Mortal Bond.
Next, the characters. In The Emperor's Blades, I loved Valyn, liked Kaden enough, and had no opinion of Adare. In The Providence of Fire, I loved Valyn, was disinterested in Kaden, and hated Adare. In The Last Mortal Bond, I no longer recognized Valyn, was annoyed by Kaden, and loathed Adare. Gwenna was the only saving grace.
At the end of The Providence of Fire, Valyn suffered an unfortunate injury at the hands of (view spoiler)[Adare and Ran il Tornja (hide spoiler)]. Instead of dealing with this like a normal person, Valyn takes it as his cue to become an insufferable jackass obsessed with his own monstrousness. It's a very stark difference between the Valyn of The Emperor's Blades and The Providence of Fire and frankly, it's exhausting. His chapters are no longer fun to read.
Kaden's lack of emotion throughout The Last Mortal Bond makes him hard to relate to. He confronts the facts with logic, but little emotion. It's only when he and Triste (view spoiler)[finally sleep together (hide spoiler)] that he finally learns the beauty of emotion. And the way it happens is as abrupt as a slap to the face. There is almost no lead-up to it, considering Triste's state of mind about Kaden throughout the novel.
Adare. Adare, Adare, Adare. Possibly the most idiotic and irritating character in the series. She laments the fact that her brothers don't trust her, yet her actions from the very beginning showed them that she couldn't be trusted. She constantly acted like she knew better than them, all the while siding with the enemy over her own family for what she believed were pragmatic reasons. She never learns from her mistakes. And yet, by the end, (view spoiler)[she reaps all the benefits (hide spoiler)].
And finally, there's Gwenna. Her chapters are by far the best in the book. She's a kick-ass leader tasked with making the hard decisions, and she's all the more relatable for it. The only thing that annoyed me was the revelation that she (view spoiler)[loves Valyn (hide spoiler)]. What is the purpose of this information? There are almost no hints of it throughout the series, and Staveley never brings it up again. Maybe it will become important in a future novel, but this is one glaring example of sloppy writing. Don't bring something like this up if it has no impact on the story.
Will I read Staveley's future novels? Probably. He is a promising writer. But for me, The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne ended on a disappointing note....more
The Providence of Fire: A Frenzy of Hand-Spreading. (Seriously, how did Staveley's editor not pick up on the constant hand-spreading? It happened at lThe Providence of Fire: A Frenzy of Hand-Spreading. (Seriously, how did Staveley's editor not pick up on the constant hand-spreading? It happened at least every three pages!)
An enjoyable book that is nevertheless overshadowed by its predecessor, The Emperor's Blades. I was pleasantly surprised by the introduction of (view spoiler)[Gwenna (hide spoiler)] as a POV character. Valyn remained the most arresting of the Malkeenian siblings; I followed his relentless descent into darkness with fascination, pity, and sadness. I had a difficult time relating to Kaden, who, (view spoiler)[having mastered the vaniate, showed very little emotion throughout (hide spoiler)]. Adare continued to annoy the bajesus out of me with her inexplicable, air-headed decision-making....more
Seriously, someone's spreading their hands every five pages. It's Brian Staveley's go-to dialogue actioThe Emperor's Blades: A Saga of Hand-Spreading.
Seriously, someone's spreading their hands every five pages. It's Brian Staveley's go-to dialogue action.
Nonetheless, this was a very enjoyable book, though not without its flaws -- particularly in the portrayal of some of the women (there is a fridging, their womanly curves are described at length for no reason, there is a lot of threatened sexual violence...)....more
I so wanted to enjoy this book, but unfortunately, it fell flat. As others have noted, the world-building is exquisite, and the Mongolian-inspired setI so wanted to enjoy this book, but unfortunately, it fell flat. As others have noted, the world-building is exquisite, and the Mongolian-inspired setting was a breath of fresh air in a genre rife with white guys in armour battling dragons.
But that's all this book really had going for it. The first 300 pages were an endless slog wherein the characters walked, staggered, roamed, and hiked across plains and over mountains. They fended off comically incompetent assassins on a few occasions, but there was no real sense of danger. The only time I felt any sort of tension was during a subterranean fight with an icky creature near the end of the book (no spoilers, promise).
The characters themselves were bland. Temur seemed to have no direction besides his desire to save the damsel in distress. Samarkar suffered from an irritatingly chronic lack of self-confidence. Besides being a tiger woman, Hrahima didn't have a personality. And I didn't learn enough about Brother Hsiung to care about him.
For the most part, the prose was clunky and unpolished.
There are certain plot threads I'd like to follow to resolution, but I just can't care enough about the overarching plot to bother picking up the next in the series....more
I gave this book three stars, but I don't know if I liked it. It's a difficult book to review. I laughed at parts. I cried at parts. I was baffled byI gave this book three stars, but I don't know if I liked it. It's a difficult book to review. I laughed at parts. I cried at parts. I was baffled by parts. And other parts made perfect sense. There were beautiful turns of phrase in this book. Anakana Schofield is undeniably a talent, but this is by no means an easy read. ...more