The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley

(7.0/10)

Brian Staveley’s debut novel, ‘The Emperor’s Blades’, left me feeling absolutely turned around – at once I was in love with the story and the idea, but I felt that the writing left something to be desired. Nevertheless, I was excited for the release of the sequel, and ‘The Providence of Fire’ finally made it to my doorstep. 

And again I have mixed feelings. 

I judge myself an experienced and fair reviewer – many people have criticised me for what appear to be too many 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s, but that’s just because I choose well, and rarely find myself willingly choosing to read the mediocre books that have so flooded the market these days. However, when reading books like The Providence of Fire, I hesitate to write an honest review – I feel as if I must be missing something. 

The last two-thirds of the book are definitely better than the somewhat disoriented and waylaid first-third. I felt as if this first-third was stretched, much like Bilbo – “like butter scraped over too much bread.” Characters are indistinct, and everything seems quite forced. 

I would pinpoint the end of the first-third when Kaden and Valyn split up, but this distinction also heralds the beginning of one of my pet-hates – the ‘wrong assumptions’ contrivance forced upon characters by the author. For the rest of the book, each of the three main characters keep making wrong assumptions – sometimes ridiculously so – to carry the story along as the author intended. 

By the time each of the three siblings has committed themselves to their paths, they have made bad choice after bad choice, and in many cases the author’s hand is clearly visible. And while I don’t believe I received a proof-copy (there is certainly no mention of it being a pre-published proof), the number of blatant grammatical errors was quite disconcerting.  

Regardless, behind what I believe to be authorial mistakes lies a story and imagination that is quite impressive. The political intrigue created by these assumptions – which, if handled with a touch more subtlety, would have immediately affected the quality of the book – is brilliant. Long-held racial assumptions are put to the test, and the reader gets the feeling that very few of the characters – aged, wise, and human all – are legitimately entitled to their prejudices.  The reveals throughout the last-third concerning the Csestriim are specifically fascinating, and I love reading characters who are just plain wrong – even more, I love reading characters who, by my own reading prejudices, I assumed held inherently accurate assumptions. 

In the end, The Providence of Fire showed the author’s growth as a writer, however there is still more growth to come. It was a bit of a tough read, and I read an entire-other book during a moment of desperation, but in the end, I enjoyed the story and am very much looking forward to reading the continuing adventures of this somewhat dysfunctional family.

Review by

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


The Emperor's Blades
Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #1
6.0

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
7.0

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
8.0

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


Skullsworn
8.4

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 [...]

12+

The Providence of Fire reader reviews

7/10 from 1 reviews

Write a reader review

There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

by NK Jemisin

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky - a palace above the [...]

Series: The Inheritance Trilogy: Book 1
Published: 2010

Score: 106

Our rating: 10.0 | 6 positive reader reviews

15+

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

12+

The Raven Tower

by Ann Leckie

For centuries the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by a god known as the Raven. But in their hour of need, the Raven speaks nothing to its people. It is into this unres [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2019

Score: 102

Our rating: 10.0 | 2 positive reader reviews

15+

Nevernight

by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight is the first in an epic new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author, Jay Kristoff.In a land where three suns almost never [...]

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #1
Published: 2016

Score: 100

Our rating: 10.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Touch of Iron

by Timandra Whitecastle

Is the Living Blade real or just a legend? With it... Prince Bashan could win back his kingdom. Master Telen Diaz can free himself of the burden from his past. Owen Smith s [...]

Series: The Living Blade: Book 1
Published: 2016

Score: 100

Our rating: 10.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow

by George RR Martin

Blood runs truer than oaths. The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud as winter approaches like an angry beast. In the northern wastes a horde of hungry, sav [...]

Series: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 3
Published: 2000

Score: 104

Our rating: 9.9 | 5 positive reader reviews

15+

Legend

by David Gemmell

Druss, Captain of the Axe, whose fame was legendary, had chosen to wait for death in a mountain hideaway. But mighty Dros Delnoch, the last stronghold of the Drenai Empire, [...]

Series: The Drenai Novels: Book 1
Published: 1984

Score: 107

Our rating: 9.8 | 9 positive reader reviews

15+

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

12+

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

12+