Karina Read's Reviews > The Emperor's Blades

The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
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it was ok

A bit of an unpopular opinion it seems... sorry! 🙈

So this one started strongly - sure, it was nothing new or groundbreaking, a fairly standard fantasy plot without much magic. The Emperor is dead - was he murdered? What will happen to his three children? Et voila.

Valyn’s storyline is what made me finish this book. His was the only vaguely intriguing plot (and i’ll admit that’s due to the giant birds) throughout the story, we barely had anything from Adare and far too much from Kaden. It’s a shame we didn’t get to explore more of Adare’s battles in court politics as i bet that would have been very interesting in light of the Emperor’s death, but no. We didn’t even get to see any background on the priest she hated so much, nor any of the other ‘big players’. I say ‘’ as we only got like 4 chapters? Maybe 5, and the only really interesting bit came at the end. So none of them really had a chance to shine. Or become people that we care about in any way. This became particularly key towards the end when there are some betrayals. Did I care about them? No - because i didn’t know who any of these smaller yet apparently key characters really were before the second they appeared.

As always, as seems to be common with average books, all the good stuff happens at the end. Maybe if we’d had more Adare scenes i might have stayed interested past 50%.

Kaden. Well he *could* have been so much more! The entirety of his narrative could have been condensed to a couple of chapters, but no, we had to drag it out so his timeline kept up with Valyn’s. I just had no interest in his mundane monkish life. Nope. None at all.

Now Valyn. The warrior in training. He had so much potential! And definitely remains the only vaguely interesting character in this book, and even then he’s no different to any other fantasy teen-soldier. Despite a strong start, his narrative soon spiralled into stereotypical angsty, whiney teen drama, with behaviour and attitude to match. I mean a lot of angst. Seriously. This intensity got going at around 50% just before the trial. I totally lost interest at that point and had i read less, i probably would have DNF’d this. I hate DNFing so i ploughed through.

As expected the plot got marginally more interesting near the end when the Empirical delegation arrived for Kaden, but i never felt any danger for the characters. I knew they’d all be fine and it turned out to be even easier for them than i expected. Quite disappointing.

The ideas are good, i just think the execution was poor. It got too repetitive for my tastes and there wasn’t any strong character development (if any at all? I don’t think Kaden finally managing to achieve what he’d been drilled about for 8 long years at long last counts at all) to account for the dragging pace. It was all too same old same old with nothing special about any of them. & predictable in terms of character loss. And don’t even get me started on the female characters. Unfortunately this wasn’t for me. I can see why people may enjoy it though, and i hope it gets better as the series progresses. I won’t be reading them though.
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Reading Progress

March 8, 2017 – Shelved
March 8, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
January 18, 2018 – Started Reading
January 19, 2018 –
page 173
30.46% "I know i’m late to the game here, but this is wonderfully addictive 😍"
January 25, 2018 –
page 264
46.48% "Still really enjoying this beast"
January 29, 2018 –
page 356
62.68% "I’m losing the will to carry on with this. If i’d read less, i’d DNF. Can someone please tell Kaden so his long chapters are less dull??! I enjoyed Valyn’s plot but now that’s just a bit repetitive. & Adare’s has picked up but we see her once every blue moon. Blah."
January 31, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Diane (new)

Diane Honest!


Stefan Bach "As always, as seems to be common with average books, all the good stuff happens at the end."
Couldn't agree more with this. As well as the rest of your review. I loved history and worldbuilding, liked his prose but simply hated those characters. They are idiots. And I highly dislike when, for the sake of characterization or story and plot moving forward, I have to sit through characters acting stupidly.
And as series progressed, Brian was better in things that I loved and significantly worse in things that I hated.
But, ultimately, f you ask me, it is worth reading through and finishing the series. If not for anything else but for the things that you actually liked in this book.


message 3: by Lucia (new) - added it

Lucia I felt similar as you - great idea but poor execution. But I did not have patience for whole book so I never finished it...


Karina Read Stefan wrote: ""As always, as seems to be common with average books, all the good stuff happens at the end."
Couldn't agree more with this. As well as the rest of your review. I loved history and worldbuilding, l..."


Oh yes! Weren't they SO stupid though?? and some of the internal struggles with Valyn - over done. I don't feel like any of them developed either, not in any tangible way that showed actual growth. I think maybe had I read this earlier on in my fantasy reading I may have loved it, but I've read books like this, some do it better, some do it worse, but it's the same old story but with weak characters. I don't even actively hate any of them. It's made me very sad... :D

Ah see, I can't really tell you anything that I did like about this one sadly :) It was okay. I am kind of interested to know the ending though, have you read all three?


Karina Read Lucia wrote: "I felt similar as you - great idea but poor execution. But I did not have patience for whole book so I never finished it..."

Ah I don't blame you to be honest! I had a dilemma at about 55/60% when I realized it wasn't going to get any better and if anything, the one character I was vaguely interested in was spiraling into a boring stereotype. I genuinely had no interest in reading on but I didn't want to look back on hours of reading that far as wasted :) I can't say the ending was much of a surprise, but at least something happened!


Stefan Bach Karina wrote: "Stefan wrote: ""As always, as seems to be common with average books, all the good stuff happens at the end."
Couldn't agree more with this. As well as the rest of your review. I loved history and w..."


Ah, then hate for this characters probably came when I finished the series. Agree 10000% with you.
It definitely lack that something, that one more thing which would significantly improve my experience with this series. Alas...
Yeah, I did finished it. Took some rest after this one, and couple of months later finished it. And it's some kind of love/hate relationship I have with the series. Some things I really liked, but that was soured with these three idiots.
Overall, it's 2.5 rating. Which goes by my saying that even average books deserve our attention. :D
But, to be honest, I really expect much from Brian in whatever he tackles next. He is really talented and that shows in certain things he did later on.
That's why I'm recommending for you to rest and then whenever you have time - just finish it. :D


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