Six Sacred Swords by Andrew Rowe (Weapons and Wielders: Book 1)

Six Sacred Swords by Andrew Rowe is the first book in a new series set in the same world as his War of Broken Mirrors series and his Arcane Ascension series. It is set as a sort of interlude that takes place directly following the ending of On the Shoulders of Titans the second book in the Arcane Ascension series. Having said that, you could read Six Sacred Swords without having read Arcane Ascension, though the first chapter will thereby include some implicit spoilers. This makes it seem like a more complicated setup than it actually is. Bottom line: Keras is telling some of his backstory to the other characters, and it’s pretty cool.

As we can safely expect from Andrew Rowe, there are a number of magical battles in this book. They’re all fun and well described. One of the things I think Rowe does very well is giving us battles that are filled with tension. These are the sorts of battles you could easily expect to see in an anime. In fact, the flow and tension of the battles puts me constantly in mind of battles in various anime in all the best ways. The fight sequences are highly enjoyable. In addition to the battles, I loved learning more about Keras. In Arcane Ascension Keras is incredibly strong. In Six Sacred Swords we see a much weaker Keras. He’s still strong. But he’s much weaker than we’re used to, and this makes things interesting. We also get to see things from Keras’ perspective. I love that. It’s neat to see what makes him tick. In fact, one of the things I love, is that he’s so good. Keras is principled. This novel is hopeful and lighthearted. Speaking of lighthearted, Rowe writes some wonderful banter in this one. There are also some wonderful homages to classic computer RPGs in the chapter titles.

There were a couple things I didn’t like. The largest of these was the voice. What I mean by this is that, while it was neat to get inside Keras’ head, it didn’t always feel like Keras. He often overthinks things in a manner very similar to Corin, the viewpoint character for the Arcane Ascension series. There are other small ways that he doesn’t feel quite like the Keras we’re used to in Arcane Ascension. To be clear, some of this may simply be down to the fact that he hasn’t grown into that character yet. That’s fine. For me, however, the character voice just didn’t seem to be quite right. I also felt like the characterizations of the side characters could have been a bit stronger.

For me, Six Sacred Swords doesn’t quite live up to the two currently published books in the Arcane Ascension series. It’s still good and worth your time, make no mistake about that. From tense battles to some very cool world building this has all the things we’ve come to expect and love about Andrew Rowe’s writing.

8/10 From tense battles to some very cool world building this has all the things we've come to expect and love about Andrew Rowe's writing

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