The Emperor’s Blades

I finished Brian Staveley’s debut novel, The Emperor’s Blades, which is the first book in The Unhewn Throne series.  It was a great book, I could barely put it down.  There was fighting, betrayals, complex politics, deaths, gods, ancient powers, and giant birds.  What is there not to like?

The story is about the three children of the recently assassinated Emperor.  Kaden is the heir, but he is off learning from Shin monks.  They are trying to teach him to tap into the ancient power of the creators of humans (the Csestriim), who were defeated in some kind of war.  They could be back though and Kaden’s father wanted his son to be prepared.

Kaden’s younger brother, Valyn, is on an island training to become a Kettral.  These are the elite of the elitist soldiers in this world.  They train for like eight years before they take a brutal test.  The work in teams that fly on giant hawks called, Kettrals.  The majority of the book focuses on Valyn, who not only has to prepare for his test, but learns of his father’s death and discovers that the assassination was part of a larger plot and he (and his brother) could be in danger.

Kaden and Valyn have a sister, Adare, who is back home as one of the ministers in the government.  I think of Finance.  She is the only woman in the position and so she has to deal with that, as well as finding her father’s killer.  I hope we see more of her story in the next book.  I especially enjoyed how the different religions affect the society and the empire.  Very fascinating.

These three children are the Emperor’s Blades.  He must have had a purpose for sending two of them away to train and keeping one close.  By the end of the book, we learn that their plots are very closely tied together.

If you like fantasy and want to get in on a new series, this is one I would definitely recommend.  And now, here are some of the things I enjoyed, which will contain spoilers.

-Balendin is a Leech, and when we learn that he draws his power from human emotions, I knew that Kaden would finally tap into the vaniate and be the one to defeat him.

-I definitely did not see the ending coming that way.  It was cool having Valyn and Kaden reunite, but did not think Kaden would want to leave and go with Tan to discover more about the Csestriim.  I guess what I expected was for everyone to go to the capital and then we get the whole Kaden adjusting to being the emperor (which I am sure will happen).

-I wonder if the gods that people are descended from, like Kaden, are actually the first children of the Csestriim?

-I also did not see the General being a bad guy.  It seemed like an obvious choice at first, but then I dismissed it because I figured Staveley was going with the love interest for Adare, you know someone who would help loosen her up (pun intended).  I guess he decided to make him both…

For those of you that read it, what did you think?