Emily May's Reviews > The Emperor's Blades

The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
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it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy, 2014
Recommended to Emily May by: Brandi

I'm sorry to my co-blogger, Brandi, and all my other friends and non-friends who gave this book five stars. Which is basically everyone.



I won't play stupid. I can see why fans of epic fantasy might like this book and I admit to being picky when it comes to the traditional fantasy genre. And I'll also say that I can see on some level that this book is well-written. I say "on some level" because I judge quality of writing not only by the author's ability to spin a nice phrase, but also by their ability to write a compelling and engaging plot.

That was missing for me.

I suppose I should also mention that I didn't read the last quarter and I'd already started skim-reading by the third quarter. So maybe... just maybe... the last part of the story takes a turn for the epic and would have kicked my indifference for this book right where it hurts. But I don't have the patience or the reading time to waste on finding out. What I did read was - and I'm sorry again to all the book's fans - so so fucking boring.



Actually no, I'll give credit where it's due - the prologue was fantastic. It was a short, brutal and horrifying opening that had me feeling glad I'd taken a chance on the book. It was all downhill from there. So, as I said, I am so so picky when it comes to “epic fantasy” - my attention span isn’t a great partner for the generally slow pacing of these kinds of books. But I've found ones to love like The Name of the Wind and Half a King, so there's always some hope left for me.

Part of me wants to say this book is slow because hell, did it feel like it! But stuff was constantly happening. Action scenes were frequent and bloody. People died. Others were betrayed. Secret feelings of love are revealed. Everything is at stake... and I just didn't care. The action scenes were so dry and lacking in suspense. Sure, they had gory descriptions; but there was zero investment in the story or characters on my part.

The three protagonists all have their own stories to tell and, despite the differences between their individual experiences and situations, I could hardly tell them apart. They never moved me, never got me to care. I'm already forgetting about them. And, even though the book is made up of constant scenes of action, the actual main plotline had made hardly any progress by the halfway point of the novel. The new emperor was still stuck in the same place he was at the beginning. I felt like I was trying to wade through thick mud while reading this book.



With such a high average rating and a million dazzling reviews from my trusted friends, it seems it must just be me. But I couldn't stop my eyes from running ahead on the page and wanting it to just be over.

Oh well *shrugs*
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Reading Progress

December 13, 2013 – Shelved
August 25, 2014 – Started Reading
August 26, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-27 of 27 (27 new)

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message 1: by Ellen (new) - added it

Ellen E. Baldwin (Quest Reviews) It's always odd to write a tank review of a book your friends love. Props for putting this out there!


message 2: by Kerry (new)

Kerry No worry. Some people are Team Edward, others are Team Jacob. But maybe you're an outlier, like say, Team Woody. You just need to divine if it's Guthrie, Harrelson, Allen or Buzz Lightyear's best friend that works for you.


Pamela I think it's totally fine to dislike something everyone else OMG LOVES WANTS TO MARRY IT DIES. I do it a lot. I'll probably still try this one out, but I loved your review.
Also, yes, Half a King was amazing!


Jeffrey I agree it was very slow in parts, but I did think in the the end it came together a lot


message 5: by Stuti (new) - added it

Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship This is exactly how I felt about Sanderson's Elantris. :/


Emily May Stuti wrote: "This is exactly how I felt about Sanderson's Elantris. :/"

I'm not sure any of Sanderson's books are for me. Shhh, don't tell anyone ;)


Emily May Pamela wrote: "I think it's totally fine to dislike something everyone else OMG LOVES WANTS TO MARRY IT DIES. I do it a lot. I'll probably still try this one out, but I loved your review.
Also, yes, Half a Ki..."


Thank you! I hope you like it more :)


Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell Great review. :)

I know how it feels to be the odd one out so props to you for your honesty!


Emily May Thanks, Nenia :)


Alexa I didn't like it either (and I'm a fan of epic fantasy!) I feel like the odd one out in my group...


Muzaffar Mazari Emily you have got to read Mistborn. It might change your views regarding Sanderson.


message 13: by Chris (new)

Chris White Skimming is bad! I thought what i read of Name of the Wind was a load of rubbish but i didn't skim from half way through, stop reading at 3/4's then proclaim the plot uncompelling. I haven't read this yet but your review reminded me of how i felt reading Way of Kings when i was tempted to dump it but instead came back a week later and discovered one of the most rewarding conclusions to anything I've read-in years.


message 14: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh Myron Dear Emily May, please put up more selfies and less reviews. But if you must write reviews can you please at least accompany them with new selfies, please. -thirstybrah


Austin I tried reading your review, Emily May, but I couldn't get past your picture! Yowza! You're gorgeous


Peter I have read A LOT of fantasy. And this one is Very much to my likeing
But to each his own


message 17: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Bummer! I can see how you felt the way you did, and even though I really enjoyed the book, I do get where you're coming from. Hoping some other series grabs you a bit harder than this one!


Emily May Thank you, John :) I'm glad you liked this more than I did.


Robert Yup I'm in the final quarter of this book and I'm in the point of giving up. Women characters are very badly drawn, and the male leads a bunch of bozos. Nice world back story but weak characterisation and clunky plotting. Sometimes I just despair of Goodreads: almost all books seem to get 3 or 4 stars, whether they're great literature or the most hackneyed drivel.


message 20: by Karen (new) - rated it 1 star

Karen Hannum You may have just saved me from bitter disappointment. I have stayed this book and so far it strikes me as someone describing a movie our tv show scene by scene with no cohesive story. I will give it 100 more pages if I can, but if it doesn't grab my attention by then, I will use your review as my guide and not waste any more time on it.


message 21: by James (new) - rated it 1 star

James Kenna I have been putting off this book for awhile, but with all the good reviews I thought I'd give it a go. Unfortunately the characters are cliché and despite years of training, are clearly ignorant. I can abide a few poorly made choices, but when it becomes an ongoing theme I lose interest. I wish i had paid more attention to this review and saved the money, because I threw the book down 2/3 through and have no inclination to finish it.


Jacob Gehersky This is the first review I have read on goodreads that compelled me to respond. I appreciate a negative review just as I would one that is positive. That being said, I don't quite understand the logic behind writing a review for a book that hasn't been read (you said the last quarter of the book wasn't read). Reading that portion of your review made me want to start skimming over your review, and I couldn't read the rest of it because I had a bitter taste in my mouth. I honestly feel that you are missing out if you haven't picked this back up. All of this could be due to the fact that I just finished the second book and thought it was fantastic. Not to mention, the final book is due next March. Either way, to each their own. Cheers.


Madeline I think the idea that one has to finish a book to give a review is pretty toxic, because a book should be enjoyable to a reader all throughout, not just at the ending or in the sequel. You can get a good sense of plot and characterization by only reading the first quarter. She read most of it, and got a good sense of it. She didn't like it, and so she's entitled to write about that on a review website. If anything, writing a review about a book you didn't finish is more important because then potential readers get to know why the book just didn't do it for you.


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ I completely agree with Madeline. Not to mention that sometimes, when books are very polarized and are either loved or hated, the only reviews we get on Goodreads are the 4-5 stars ones because the readers who didn't like it didn't finish it and didn't write a review. That's why I'm often grateful for the DNF reviews.


Sa'id good honest review.


message 26: by John (new)

 John I completely agree with Madeline also...I love fantasy..but I was just so bored...I just couldn't finish it. If an author doesn't have me by say 150 pages I'm most likely not going to continue...too many good books out there.


message 27: by Rick (new) - rated it 1 star

Rick Worthington I'm listening to the audiobook and that's the only reason I was able to finish it. Boring. Unconvincing world building. Sorry I used my credit to listen to this.


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