Holy Hull. This was an awesome book. It kicks off real simple at first, the emperor is dead, and two of his three children are unaware of it: One trains to be a badass assassin, and the other, the heir, invests his time getting buried alive, haul stones, getting cuffed at the back of his head, and drink tea, to reach a state of Nirvana.
The book opens with a prologue that shows you the meaning of rot, and then the following chapter paves way to a graphic scene of a corpse. I should say the chapter had me hooked and I was curious enough to keep on reading until things unraveled.
I have no problem with graphic violence in the stuff I read and watch. But what bothered me in “The Emperor’s Blades” is how it’s all the women getting butchered in graphic detail. The inclusion of one kick-ass woman in the book doesn’t help elevate that.
Beyond this, the book was a great read. I loved the description and the prose. I loved the pacing, despite being a long book, everything moved at a fast and clear pace.
There are three main POVs, each of the emperor’s children, but we spend most of our time with the two boys – the assassin and the monk – and only about three chapters with the eldest, the daughter. Though from a certain perspective I can understand why she had so few chapters and I can only imagine things will change, fast, in the next two books when shit gets real.
As the characters are scattered throughout the empire I felt there was deep immersion and how large the world is. Each one was so different from the others. So different when something shook up the status quo, it felt like a threatening alien presence.
After this book I’m pretty much sure I’ll read everything Brian Stavely, the author, writes. For now, onward to Book Two: The Providence of Fire!