The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley


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

All reviews for Brian Staveley's Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne series

The Emperor's Blades
Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #1

The emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But [...]

The Providence of Fire
Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #2

War is coming, secrets multiply and betrayal waits in the wings... The Annurian Empire's ruling family must be vigilant, as the conspiracy against them deepens. Having [...]

The Last Mortal Bond
Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #3

The Annurian Empire is losing a war on two fronts - and it's unclear who is in command. Adare is stationed in the thick of battle and now calls herself Emperor. However [...]

More Brian Staveley reviews


Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her [...]


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 Poland

thanks for the spoiler man, especially when it seems you wrote this half-arsed 'review' half way into the book/books. i think if this would be called a review, it might be the worst one ive ever read. and im damn sorry i did. author, go write a book, i will be happy to read ~50% of it, give it bad review and tell everyone i can do better job myself. and this is direct link from google...

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.

6.3/10 from 6 reviews

Write a reader review

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

The Hero of Ages

by Brandon Sanderson

Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed [...]

Series: Mistborn: Book 3
Published: 2008

Score: 109

Our rating: 10.0 | 9 positive reader reviews


The Priory of the Orange Tree

by Samantha Shannon

A world divided.A queendom without an heir.An ancient enemy awakens.The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen S [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2019

Score: 99

Our rating: 9.8 | 1 positive reader reviews


Half a King

by Joe Abercrombie

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it al [...]

Series: Shattered Sea #1
Published: 2014

Score: 102

Our rating: 9.7 | 5 positive reader reviews


Tymon's Flight

by Mary Victoria

The World Tree rises up out of the seething clouds like a green mountain, lifting its children up to the light. All creation nestles in its gigantic branches: all take shel [...]

Series: Chronicles of the Tree: Book 1
Published: 2010

Score: 97

Our rating: 9.6 | 1 positive reader reviews