The Knife's Edge by Matthew Wolf (The Ronin Saga #1)

(7.0/10) Although I didn't love it, I didn't mind reading it either.

When legends come to life the world trembles from a single name. Ronin. Once-heroes from a different age, they wield elemental powers… wind, water, fire, stone, forest, sun, moon, flesh, and metal.

At the same time, a young man discovers his best friend with a sword in her stomach, and dark wings sprouting from her back. Guards rush onto the scene, accuse him of the act, and he is forced to flee. In a new world without his memories, Gray must find his way amid legends and darkness, as he wrestles with an elemental power inside himself.

A power all too similar to the infamous Ronin…

The Knife’s Edge is the first of a new epic fantasy trilogy from Matthew Wolf, which blends familiar themes of a world threatened by a monstrous evil, destroying everything in its path, with a flavour of feudal Japan.

A group of Ronin, master-less samurai in this world and elemental power-wielding ancient warriors in this book, vanished long ago and are now feared, particularly their former leader Kail. Kail’s sword, Morrowil, can only be held by the one it chooses and is the key to the saviour or destruction of the land of Daerval. Our young protagonist, Gray, becomes the keeper of the sword after a horrific accident where his best friend is killed and he has to escape his old life and begin again - his memories of the tragedy and his previous life wiped.

Eventually, it is time for Gray to take on the responsibility of Morrowil and his own elemental power, the wind, to fulfil a prophecy spoken by a dying queen, whilst the hoards of the Kage ravage the land in search of the sword and the ultimate power it contains.

The Knife’s Edge is firmly set in the epic fantasy genre and there are many things that you will have seen before – Lord of the Rings must be a strong influence with the same nine riders on otherworldly horses hunting down a young man who has to take on the burden of something which was thrust upon him with the entire world hanging in the balance – but despite this I think Wolf has done a good job of bringing his world into its own. I enjoyed reading it but I thought the backstory was a bit confusing – I still have no idea where the Kage came from, what they are and who controls them. Overall the story moves quickly and there’s plenty of action but the characterisation was missing a little bit with characters generally being slotted into one type and then not straying beyond this.

My opinion is split. One the one hand I can see this as being a foundation stone for the next book, which hopefully will push the action wider as in this one we spend the majority of our time with Gray and his skirmishes whilst the wider world is a jumble of names of far away places. On the other I can see this as being a fairly middling start to yet another fantasy trilogy where characters are running around doing the same old thing with flashes of LOTR and the Elder Scrolls popping up. It gets a bit messy in places, but doesn’t drag by any means, so although I don’t love it, I didn’t mind reading it either.

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Matthew Wolf's The Ronin Saga series

The Knife's Edge

The Ronin Saga #1

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