Review: The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

Posted December 24, 2017 by Minx

Review: The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
Series: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #1
Genres: Fantasy
Release Date: January 14, 2014
Publisher: Tor Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 480
Length: 19 hours, 17 minutes
ISBN: 0765336405
Purchase at: Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Depository Google Play Kobo IndieBound Audible
Minx's Rating:

The circle is closing. The stakes are high. And old truths will live again...

The Emperor has been murdered, leaving the Annurian Empire in turmoil. Now his progeny must bury their grief and prepare to unmask a conspiracy.

His son Valyn, training for the empire’s deadliest fighting force, hears the news an ocean away. He expected a challenge, but after several ‘accidents’ and a dying soldier’s warning, he realizes his life is also in danger. Yet before Valyn can take action, he must survive the mercenaries’ brutal final initiation.

Meanwhile, the Emperor’s daughter, Minister Adare, hunts her father’s murderer in the capital itself. Court politics can be fatal, but she needs justice. And Kaden, heir to an empire, studies in a remote monastery. Here, the Blank God’s disciples teach their harsh ways – which Kaden must master to unlock their ancient powers. When an imperial delegation arrives, he’s learnt enough to perceive evil intent. But will this keep him alive, as long-hidden powers make their move?


The Emperor’s Blades is a rich and engrossing tale that is told from the perspectives of the Emperor’s children, Kayden, Valyn, and Adare. The story starts with the Emperor having been murdered and leaving the Annurian Empire in turmoil. The next Emperor, Kaden, was living in a distant land that would takes months to reach. Kaden may be the next emperor but he knows little to nothing about running an empire. He has been training at a monastery just the same as every first in line son has but he had not reached the part of his training which would have groomed him for the emperor position. I was not the biggest fan of this character, he was very naïve and the religious order he was training under was pretty cruel. They have their reasons but ‘why did it matter for the future emperor?’ was a question running through my mind for most of the book.

Valyn was the other son and even though he learned of his father’s death shortly after it took place he could do nothing about it. He was not the next in line and he was not allowed to leave until his training was complete. Burning with the need to find out why and how his father was murdered, Valyn was also very concerned for his brother’s safety. He knew that there was a good chance that someone was out to assassinate the entire family and they would start with his brother. When it became clear to Valyn that his worst fears were being realized he went rogue in an attempt to save his brother. I liked Valyn’s character the best but he was also a frustrating at the same time. He was the type of character who learned from his lessons slowly but he had the most grit.

Adare had been the only child left in the kingdom because she was a woman. In this society Adare’s only real value was for who she would marry. Although her father had recently made her a minister, something of which was never done, she was scorned and forced to endure the political shenanigans of the Empire in the wake of her father’s death. She would have been the rightful heir if she had not been born a woman but in this patriarchal society she is left to watch as the kingdom was placed into the hands of a regent until her brother Kaden could be brought to his rightful place. Adare was definitely underrepresented in this story but the parts she did have were packed with political machinations and plot reveals.

The Emperor’s Blades is an amazing adventure that takes you through three totally different viewpoints with the death of the emperor being the cause and effect that spins these character’s lives out of control. The world-building is amazing and I loved that I was able to experience three completely different worlds that these characters find themselves in. There were parts of the story that were a bit slow and there was lots of info dumping that came with that but I really enjoyed the experience and as the book went on I become involved in the characters. Of course, I hated how women were treated in this book but I am hoping that with such strong female characters that maybe the story will turn around in that aspect as the series continues. Overall, The Emperor’s Blades was a solid read!


About Brian Staveley

Author Brian Staveley

Brian Staveley is the author of the award-winning fantasy trilogy, The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne. After teaching literature, philosophy, history, and religion for more than a decade, he began writing fiction. His first book, The Emperor’s Blades, won the David Gemmell Morningstar Award, the Reddit Stabby for best debut, and scored semi-finalist spots in the Goodreads Choice Awards in two categories: epic fantasy and debut. The entire trilogy, which includes The Providence of Fire and the The Last Mortal Bond has been translated into over ten languages worldwide.

Brian lives on a steep dirt road in the mountains of southern Vermont, where he divides his time between fathering, writing, husbanding, splitting wood, skiing, and adventuring, not necessarily in that order.

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