One of the most touted Debut Epic Fantasies of 2014 is Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades. Tor has a big marketing push behind the book, having shown off the cover well in advance of the book’s publication, sample chapters through the seventh chapter of the book months before the book published. as well as the cover for book 2, The Providence of Fire a year before its publication. Lastly, a trade paperback version of the book published in August 2014, not even a full year after the release of the hardcover in January 2014.
So the, hoow do the first (approximately) 100 pages work for me? Very well, indeed. Staveley gradually introduces readers over the first quarter or so of this novel to two of the three children of the Emperor: Kaden and Valyn. He also mentions the third Adar, a daughter Adare. Kaden is the eldest and has spent the better part of the previous decade training with a sect of Monks; Valyn is training the military where he can potentially fly upon the backs of giant hawks, and Adare is mentioned as being raised to Minister. There’s a bit of action, with a nice balance of world-building and character development/introduction. Early on, Valyn hears whispers of a conspiracy before it is revealed his father, the Emperor has been murdered. Staveley alternates chapters between the two brothers for these first 100 pages and it proves effective thus far. His transition between the storylines of the two brothers end seach scene with enough of a hook to keep me engrossed and reading to find out more. At this point, I hope to see more of Adare as the novel progresses.
Like many epic fantasies, this one gets compared to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. While that may be superficially valid, the series I’m most reminded of is of another superb fantasy series, David Anthony Durham’s Acacia trilogy. This bodes very well indeed.