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Seven Blades in Black

(The Grave of Empires #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  4,670 ratings  ·  805 reviews
Sam Sykes returns with a new fantasy that introduces to an unforgettable outcast magician caught between two warring empires.

Among humans, none have power like mages. And among mages, none have will like Sal the Cacophony. Once revered, now vagrant, she walks a wasteland scarred by generations of magical warfare. The Scar, a land torn between powerful empires, is where ro
Paperback, 704 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Orbit
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Danielle ✨
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Rob I'm halfway through and it is entirely (so far) unrelated to the Aeon's Gate and Bring Down Heaven.

You should absolutely read those too though as the…more
I'm halfway through and it is entirely (so far) unrelated to the Aeon's Gate and Bring Down Heaven.

You should absolutely read those too though as they are fantastic (Bring Down heaven more so IMO). (less)

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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  4,670 ratings  ·  805 reviews

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Start your review of Seven Blades in Black (The Grave of Empires, #1)
chai ♡
Funny how school never teaches you the important things like taxes, mortgages or how to cope with the emotional turmoil of getting sorely disappointed by one of your most anticipated releases of the year.

The experience of reading this novel is rather cloudy in my memory, as it took me two weeks to finish it. I would often put it in the corner, the way one might lean a broom or umbrella when not using it, and pick up something more griping to read. The story spun a single night the length of many
Robin Hobb
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ah, the usual caveat! I know Sam Sykes and I read this book as an Advance Reading Copy, an edition sent to me for free by the publisher. As always, this does not affect my review of the book.

Seven Blades in Black weighs in at a substantial 771 pages; the edition I have is a chunk! For fantasy readers who enjoy a complete immersion in a new world with a unique magic system, this book is for you. In a time when most new fantasies seem to be part of a trilogy or longer series, Seven Blades in Black
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
UPDATE: $2.99 Kindle US today 9/24/20

I quite enjoyed this book and look forward to the next one!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Daniel B.
Feb 28, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is a perfect example of why GoodReads needs half stars. It's a 3.5 for sure. Sam shows incredible promise as a fantasy author. I am excited to see his masterpiece. SBIB can close, but no cigar.

I was invested in the characters and world, but the story slumps and the lack of stakes at times prevented me from loving this book as much as I really wanted to.

Full review here:
Nicholas Eames
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my kind of book. Fast-paced and funny, tempered with tender moments and some really excellent worldbuilding. The characters--from Sal the Cacophony to the entire supporting cast (especially the bad guys)--are colorful and complex. And if, like me and every other rational human being on the planet, you're a fan of Final Fantasy and anime, you'll find a lot to love in this series.

Also, there's a sword named Jeff. Need I go on? No. No, I needn't.
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷

Fares pick for my 10 readers, 10 recommendations challenge!

“People were noisome, demanding, judgmental. Books gave everything and asked nothing more than to be taken care of.”

I am going to start with the elephant in the room before I can actually review this properly. I know that the author was accused of harassment earlier this year and he confessed that he was learning from his past mistakes. I may have skipped the book in normal circumsta
K.J. Charles
Oct 28, 2019 added it
Shelves: fantasy
Author sexually harasses women at conferences so fuck his book
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010s, fantasy, reviewed
This is something you don’t see very often; a fantasy obviously inspired by westerns. It’s filled with outlaws, lone gunmen and our hero wandering the desert-like setting with a trusted steed (though in this case, the steed is a giant mean spirited bird, inspired by Final Fantasy’s Chocobos).

The plot focuses on Sal the Cacophony, who is awaiting her execution. She decides to give a last confession though, telling of the recent events that lead to her leaving several towns burning and countless l
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Exciting and inventive. I never realized how much I needed wizard-hunting gunslingers in my life.

Buy Sam’s book.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
This was one of those stories that had a fun premise but which never quite managed to translate that into a decent story. It was a bit of a flop in truth and that was a shame as the blurb was fun and this seems like a book that was well liked by most of my fellow fantasy readers. I lasted 12 hours of the 20 hour audiobook before I pulled the plug. It just never hooked me at all. I soldiered on for a while as there was nothing offensive or particularly awful about it but it was pretty dull and I ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think I'll drop this to a 4.5 stars.

The exact same thing happened again, I was highlighting everything in the first half of the book then I stopped and was reading just to reach the last parts. It's a shame bc the second part had more action yet it didn't feel like it.
If I had to say something bad about this it's the pacing of the book and the action sequences were as compelling as they could've been too.
Other than that, I loved it, it was cool cool cool.
Holly (The GrimDragon)
"And I felt like I was choking on my own blood again. I felt like I was drowning on dry land. I felt like I wanted to tear my throat out so I could breathe again. I felt like I wanted to take out my gun and start shooting until things made sense.."

Well, fuck. If this isn't my jam, I don't know what is!

Sal the Cacophony (rad name, yeah?) felt as though she was a part of my soul. I related to her in many ways.. for awhile there, I was feeling personally attacked! Goddamn. Sarcastic, sweary, tattoo
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I feel like the author one day saw the term "disaster bisexual" and wondered what would happen if he turned up the "disaster" descriptor to 11.

An absolutely brilliant mash-up of secondary world fantasy and Western tropes follows the saga of an exiled mage-hunter, Sal the Cacophony. Her epithet is courtesy of her terrifying magical sidearm which she uses to hunt down Vagrants, also exiled mages, who are on a very specific list. The story is told through the framing narrative of Sal imprisoned by
milou  ☕️
If you need a favour, you bring her flowers. If you need her forgiveness, you bring her jewellery. And if you need both, you bring her a book.

To me it's quite a challenge to write this review, but then again so was reading this very book to me at least. It almost literally started with a bang and I found myself immersed into this world from the start. You want to know what happened to Sal and how she has gotten to that point in her life. It leaves you in the search of answers.

This bo
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Seven Blades in Black has one of the most memorable main characters. Sal the Cacophony (just the name alone kicks ass) is sarcastic, stubborn, destructive, obnoxious, basically a disaster. And I loved reading about her.

Unfortunately, Seven Blades in Black is also unnecessarily long. There definitely didn't need to be 700 pages, and somewhere around the halfway point the pacing became a real issue and I struggled through.

4 stars for a strong voice, original setting, and a fiercely disastrous main
Oleksandr Zholud
Oct 05, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hn-2020-longlist
This is a fantasy about a female bounty hunter, who stalks wizards, drinks a lot and talks to her gun. While there is nothing I can point my finger at as a bad item: story, style, ideas, it wasn’t an interesting and engrossing read, too much secondary to a lot of earlier published fantasy.

The story starts with the protagonist, Sal the Cacophony as a prisoner awaiting execution. She tells her story to her jailer, the idea recently used in The Ruin of Kings. Sal is depicted as “white hair, scarred
Adah Udechukwu
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Seven Blades in Black was good but I hated the length of the novel. I really, really hated the length of the novel. It was far too long for my liking.
The novel was dragged out unnecessarily. I was bored, really really bored while reading novel. It's a miracle I didn't give the novel 3 stars.
The Captain
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

While I enjoyed this book, it didn't completely float me boat.  I think that this stems from me misconception that this was a standalone novel.  After finishing this, I really do wish it was and I even know what the ending could have been.  But I can hardly fault the author for writing a series can I?

I absolutely did love the main character, Sal the Cacophony. 
Iryna *Book and Sword*
Who's got greedy fingers when it comes to NetGalley and wants to read all of the epic fantasies?
This girl!

Thank you NetGalley and Orbit for an arc.


Hot Pink Mess
May 19, 2020 rated it did not like it
In light of recent events and as the victims of both Sam Sykes and Myke Cole speak out on the sexual harassment, misconduct, and assaults perpetrated by one or both, I have removed my review and will no longer be supporting this or other authors that have been accused.

Believe the victims.

Perhaps someday, these authors' actions will finally outperform their words of, "I need to do better." I hope they will. But regardless, no action can remove the harm they have done to women and young authors
Nov 13, 2020 added it
some things about the author have arisen so I will no longer be reading/reviewing his works.
if you would like to know more you can check out my review under the second book of this series

TW: mentions of sexual assault
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

I don’t think I enjoyed this one as most others, but honestly, I believe it had more to do with my mindset going in than anything to do with the book. Seven Blades in Black is rollicking action-packed epic fantasy full of spellbinding magic, tantalizing intrigue, and bloody violent battles—in other words, pretty much everything an avid reader of the genre could ask for. That said, it is also a heavy clunker of a book and t
I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley.

Whatever else they say, they'll say Sal the Cacophony did the right thing. Now and again, at least.

Those of you who have been following my reviews for awhile will realize what an absolute anomaly it is for me to read a high fantasy book that comes in at around 700 pages at all, much less to give it five stars. Usually I find myself nodding off when a book hits 400 pages, but even though it definitely took me awhile to read this I never once foun
Stephen Richter
Do not really know why this did not click with me. It might have been the back and forth in time, it may have been some answers came in too late to make me care who Sal killed or why. I do know I really wanted to like this more than I did. There is also the possibility I listened to the audiobook and my head was somewhere else. Daisy May did a fine job in narration so no worries there. So just my head !
Oct 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
A novella stretched out to 661 pages, featuring a killer so inept that everyone she kills shows up five chapters later, absolutely fine, only to be “killed” again. Mark my words, the people Sal supposedly murdered at the end of this story will show up in the sequels. That’s how bad she is at that one job. Sykes is really funny on Twitter. He should confine his writing to there.

From the time I started this book to the time I forced myself to finish it, I read 12 other books. 12! That’s a red flag
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*removed from favorites and I won’t be posting any reviews by this author for the foreseeable future*

"This is all I'm going to leave behind." She reached up, traced the scar over her eye with two fingers. "Even before this, before the gun, before the list, I didn't have much to my name but corpses, It's only gotten worse since then. This story, what I did, is all I have left to give."
She let her hands drop. She closed her eyes.
"Everything else is just dust and scars."

*A huge thank you to Orbit b
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sal the Cacophony: Mad, bad and dangerous to know. And that would be the case even if she wasn't so-named for carrying a shockingly destructive magic weapon (the aforementioned Cacophony, sort of a demon-gun that fires magical shells that do various terrible things).

So as things begin, she's been captured and is being interrogated before her (presumably not undeserved) execution; the book is mostly in first-person as Sal relates the events that brought her to her cell, but punctuated by occasion
Jun 08, 2019 marked it as zzz-books-not-for-me
DNF: 5% (or about an hour out of 20.5 of the audiobook)

Monologues. There are times when I appreciate them...

I'm sure there's a lot to love in this book. The intro is intriguing and there's plenty of action from the start. I'm just not in the mood for a protagonist that distracts me from the on-going fight to tell me how she feels about her gun. There's a lot of telling instead of showing in the first few chapters, which explains the length of the audiobook.
Some funny statements such as: sm
Morgan Blanch
If you love Nevernight, this book is right up your alley.

A bisexual MC on the hunt for revenge against those who betrayed her, an f/f romance that I'm kind of conflicted on but definitely isn't all sunshine and butterflies, snappy writing with some great banter.


This series is criminally underrated and I love it and I need everyone to read it ASAP.
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, favoritos-2019
I guess my type of books are the ones about queer, badass, outlaw ladies with unusual powers and a dark past.

Exhibit A; Nevernight

Exhibit B; Foundryside

Exhibit C; Red Sister

Exhibit D; The Rise of Kyoshi

Truly, the only thing they have in common is my initial description.
And that they’re all awesome. And that I had no idea they were queer until I started, it was like Christmas.

But the plot of all of them are totally different.

This book.... what can I say. I wasn’t planning on reading it, I h
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Fantasy Buddy Reads: Seven Blades in Black [April 15, 2020] 32 37 Apr 22, 2020 02:03AM  
The Sword and Laser: SBiB: Quotable quotes 3 97 Dec 20, 2019 02:25PM  
The Sword and Laser: SBiB: Finished 19 108 Dec 20, 2019 02:18PM  
The Sword and Laser: SBiB: Artwork 15 126 Dec 20, 2019 02:05PM  
The Sword and Laser: #366 - Just Crack Me Open and Take a Look 9 107 Nov 25, 2019 09:24AM  

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Sam Sykes is the author of Tome Of The Undergates, a vast and sprawling story of adventure, demons, madness and carnage. Suspected by many to be at least tangentially related to most causes of human suffering, Sam Sykes is also a force to be reckoned with beyond literature.

At 25, Sykes is one of the younger authors to have arrived on the stage of literary fantasy. Tome Of The Undergates is his fir

Other books in the series

The Grave of Empires (3 books)
  • Ten Arrows of Iron (The Grave of Empires, #2)
  • Three Axes to Fall (The Grave of Empires, #3)

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Where do you go for fantastical, must-read book recommendations? This summer we're turning to the experts of illusion,...
140 likes · 35 comments
“Now, it’s certainly not true for *every* woman, but the ones I have had the good fortune to know in my life have all followed this rule.
If you need a favor, you bring her flowers.
If you need her forgiveness, you bring her jewelry.
And if you need both, you bring her a book.”
“Courageous read a lot of books. That’s probably why he was so angry all the time.” 4 likes
More quotes…