The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley (Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #1)

6/10 Staveley is a good writer.

It has often been said that writers start writing because they think they can do a better job writing than someone else, or that they can make better use of an idea. I have found this to be the case time and time again in my life – it was in fact the reason I started writing at all.

And upon finishing ‘The Emperor’s Blades’ by Brian Staveley, I can tell you I am ready and raring to write.

In this case, however, it is a very specific drive behind my desire to write – the desire to take a brilliant idea and execute it better. In this case, I think Brian Staveley’s imagination and creation are brilliant, but his execution is to be found lacking.

As I continued reading The Emperor’s Blades – all in one sitting, mind you – I was repeatedly found wanting to do it better. There was so much promise – the characters, the plot, the mysteries – and each and every time the author was found lacking in his ability to make the most of what he had in his hands. At times it felt as if someone else had created the story, and then handed it over to Staveley, who didn’t really know how to best use what he had been given.

The overarching plot is a brilliant one – separate your three protagonists but have them be intrinsically linked, and in danger. The fact that they are related didn’t really play much of a part until the last few pages, and even then it felt somewhat contrived and forced. The world in which we find them is intriguing and interesting, though I found that only one of the three storylines was regularly captivating – while another was simply unnecessary, as far as this book is concerned. The mythology, mystery, and institutions of the world were each and every one intriguing – not overly thrust into the face of the reader, but simply existing and revealed bit by bit, as is natural.

The characters were a mixed bag: only one of the three lead characters acted with any sort of believable maturity, the other two surprisingly weak-willed and contrary; a female character who existed only to be abused and die, creating suitable angst and revenge for our lead protagonist; a group of one-dimensional evil characters who seemed to get away with murder; and a rag-tag bunch of ‘good guys’ who, again, didn’t seem to act with any believable realism.

One of the most annoying aspects of this book is the fact that I won’t be able to stop reading. There is such promise here, and I want to believe that Staveley can grow into that promise. He is a debut author, and if he is willing, he can definitely grow to be one of the more entertaining authors. But he’s going to have to be willing to find the mistakes and correct them.

Putting aside the contrivances, unnecessary storyline, misshapen characters, and mediocre pacing, Staveley is a good writer. There is room to fill out, and hopefully with time that is what will happen. In the meantime, however, I’m not going to be including this in a list of books you must read. You might interpret the execution better than I, but for the moment, maybe it’s best to leave it on the shelf until book two comes out.

Review by

3 positive reader review(s) for The Emperor's Blades


Brian Staveley's Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne series

The Emperor's Blades

Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #1

The Providence of Fire

Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #2

The Last Mortal Bond

Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #3

The Emperor's Blades reader reviews

from United States

I honestly love how the characters flow, grow and eventually interact with another. I find myself compelled to continue. I've yet to finish the 3rd book WHY WOULD YOU SPOIL? What a pos move. Indicate if you plan on spoiling. I've read alot of fantasy books man and Brian has a certain flair to his writing that makes him stand out as an author. I'll spend hours at book stores reading passages from various books that catch my eye. Few authors captivate me in the paragraphs I read from them. I'm glad to include Brian Staveley among them. I can tell hes improving as a writer. Suspend your personal f pride. Thanks for wasting my time.

from South Africa

Joshua S. Hill this “review” was tortuous to read. It seems like nothing so much as a platform for you to display your misplaced (and I do mean misplaced) self importance. You seem to have entirely missed the point of writing a review, here’s a clue: considering that it is aimed a *potential* readers of the book, it is not a good idea to go revealing important plots twists and spoilers in the story. Your use of grammar and syntax are also appalling; I will make a point of giving any literature with you name on it a wide berth in future.

from Canada

So the entire premise of your review is based on the idea that you think you could have done a better job than Staveley? Maybe try for less arrogance and a little modesty. At least I now know not to follow your reviews unless I want to hear about why you are a better writer than these authors.

from New Zealand

Thanks for the huge spoiler Joshua S. Hill, I appreciate it.

7.4/10 from 5 reviews

Write a reader review

Your rating out of 10

More reviews of Brian Staveley books

Books you may also enjoy

The Hero of Ages

Brandon Sanderson

Half a King

Joe Abercrombie

Tymon's Flight

Mary Victoria

Hope and Red

Jon Skovron


John Gwynne

The Ember Blade

Chris Wooding

Twelve Kings

Bradley Beaulieu

The Black God's War

Moses Siregar III

Following reviews


William Horwood


Rosie Best

At the Mountains of Madness

HP Lovecraft

Valour's Choice

Tanya Huff

Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu

Mercedes M Yardley

Alt Hist: Issue 2

Mark Lord


Michael Crichton

Apocalypse Now Now

Charlie Human