Lukasz's Reviews > The Imbued Lockblade

The Imbued Lockblade by M.D. Presley
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it was amazing
bookshelves: self-published, flintlock

Actual rating: 4.5 stars rounded up to five shiny stars because I enjoy this story a lot.

After finishing The Woven Ring two months ago, I was thrilled to learn that the sequel was almost ready. World of Ayr is worth discovering. Besides, I have a small crush on Marta. And there’s still plenty to learn about Carmichael’s schemes or Luca and Isabelle pasts. There are multiple reasons to read this series.

That’s why I applied to read ARC of the book through author’s website. Sadly, I wasn’t bribed to write this review. I received ARC. No check. Shame :/

If you haven’t read The Woven Ring – Sol’s Harvest series can be described as a fantasy re-imagining of the American Civil War. It is important to note, though, that author uses history as inspiration for his story that happens in a world full of its own unique Fantasy elements.

A major magical conceit is Breath, an essence left over from Sol's (deity/god) sacrifice of his life essence. Said essence flowed over the world and created life, each living thing containing a fragment of their creator (the Breath). Plants, as the simplest, have only one, making up the Body. Animals have two; the Body and Mind. Humans, as Sol's chosen, have three: Body, Mind, and Soul.

But some humans, known as Blessed, are born with four Breaths and gain additional abilities based on where the additional Breath resides. If it's in the Body, they can create psychic exoskeletons. If the Mind, they can either hear or influence the thoughts of others. And if it's in the Soul, they are able to control the Breath around them.

The Imbued Blade starts where we were left in The Woven Ring ending. Marta Childress accompanied by a pair of freebooters Luca and Isabelle plans to deliver catatonic(not fully) Caddie Hendrix to the child’s father. Too bad Marta secretly intends on killing the man to save the nation of Newfield a second civil war.

She starts to trust her companions but she may be proven wrong as it seems Luca has plenty of secrets. In a similar way to TWR, The Imbued Blade merges (coherently) two storylines. One happening in the present, the other, showing Luca’s past and a path to becoming who he is, in the past.

Both storylines move forward building up to a dual climax. I think the pacing was good, although, even before starting the book I was invested in the story and characters. For me, it was like a meeting with exciting people I want to know more about. I can imagine that readers focused on non-stop action may find pacing a bit slow in places. If you like Luca and want to know more about him, you’ll be thrilled by plenty of insights. If you don’t care about him, well, there’s a risk you’ll feel overwhelmed by a number of information on his backstory. All packed into action sequences, mind you.

The Imbued Blade is definitely a character-driven story. Both protagonists and antagonists are rather complex and morally ambiguous characters. They’re caught in a conflict that brings both worst and best from them. Each of them has dreams, plans, and aspirations, however, Civil War and personal dreams and conflicts influence their choices. And their choices influence others.

Marta is my favorite character, hands down. She’s not always likable and she was described as an antihero. To be honest, I don’t really see her as an antihero. After what she went through, I wouldn’t expect her to be sunny and cheerful. She’s definitely morally ambiguous but it’s precisely this that makes her so interesting to me. If you hoped that she would go to the pub with Graf and Carmichael to have beer, get things straight and tell some jokes, it won’t happen. Neither does she happily fall in love. Instead, she faces dangerous foes. Also, she’s painfully proven wrong. Even when she believed she had cut all of Carmichael’s strings, she still found herself playing her part in his performance without ever having seen the script. Both, irrepressible Render Graf and powerful Glassman Berenice Mauch are interested in destroying Marta as well. It’s too much and there’s a scene where Marta finally unleashes her fury and believe me it’s a slaughterhouse. Marta’s new Armor (sort of Exoskeleton) makes her dangerous in a fight. Wood and stone crumble before it like porcelain. I like her even more now.

It is, however, Luca Dolphus who gets the most attention in this book. We learn about him, his past and his relationship with Isabelle. We see how he’s manipulated by those close to his heart and what kind of human he is. Charming and charismatic, undefeated in a battle as long as he holds his Imbued Blade, Luca is an interesting character. Ambitious and passionate but also ready for huge sacrifice for the loved ones. And the sacrifice he does is great indeed. The story of Luca obtaining Imbued Blade is a bit heart – wrenching and done well. It’s worth noting that part of his storyline describes Luca’s stay in Hottenkof School of Tshi. The concept is great (imagine blade school inspired by flying insects and some cool trials allowing to move further in school hierarchy). I would gladly read a short story focusing on Luca’s misadventures during his stay there. After finishing the book I’m torn between liking and relating to Luca and considering him an asshole. On the other hand, his fate remains a mystery I want to discover.

While Isabelle isn’t POV, we learn much more about her and her relationship with Luca. Ingio blood runs in her vanes and she really is wild at times. But also loyal to the end. A trait of character worth appreciation.

Finally, Caddie’s secret is revealed (although not fully explained). In order not to spoil things, let’s just say that she straddles a unique position in the epistemological understanding of the will of Sol.

World-building continues to impress. Its scale and depth are praiseworthy. In book two author explores the culture of the Dobra (his mashup of the Roma/ Jewish traditions in our world). We learn a lot about their traditions and lifestyle. As well as their secret rituals, like imbuing things, a process that requires death. The clan structure is quite detailed and complicated.

Writing and prose are precise and to the point. There’s little of what you might call purple prose. The author seems to enjoy including archaisms and informal American terms, so checking some of the words in the dictionary was a fun (happily Kindle built-in dictionary is quite handy and helpful).

If you enjoyed The Woven Ring, chances are you’ll love The Imbued Blade. Especially if, like me, you were curious about Luca and Isabelle’s pasts. Luca is a true hero of this story – we learn a lot about him and Dobra culture. The book ends with a sort of cliffhanger or, shall we say, a game changer that will make things even more interesting. I can’t wait to see where the story goes. Also, I’m quite curious if the author will continue the tradition of telling the story in two parallel timelines presented in alternated chapters. I won’t lie. Carmichael’s perspective on the events could be compelling, given how finely he pulls all the strings. I wouldn’t mind learning more about Isabelle either.
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Reading Progress

October 11, 2017 – Shelved
October 11, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
November 9, 2017 – Started Reading
November 9, 2017 –
7.0% "The opening is strong. It shows origin of a scary glassman you may remember from The Woven Ring."
November 10, 2017 –
22.0% "We learn a lot more about Luca Dolphus the way we learned about Marta past in the first book. Chapters follow two timelines: present and Luca's past. So far I'm enjoying both stories. I'd like to learn more of Isobelle. Hopefully I will soon."
November 10, 2017 –
54.0% "We learn a lot about Luca's past and the events that shaped him in.what he is. His storyline seems, so far, sligthly richer than the one.that'll lead to meeting with Hendrix. Both are good."
November 12, 2017 –
71.0% "Interesting."
November 12, 2017 –
84.0% "Almost done. I'm not sure if everything will be wrapped up in this oen. Hopefully not. I'll know soon."
November 12, 2017 – Finished Reading
January 6, 2018 – Shelved as: self-published
December 8, 2018 – Shelved as: flintlock

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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Jennifer (bunnyreads) Great review! Covers a lot of my feelings about the book too.

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