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Book Club Review: The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

By / February 18, 2014 / no comments

With an average of 4.5 stars and 749 ratings on Goodreads , you might look at that and think “holy smokes, The Emperor’s Blades, what a friggen amazing book” and if you thought that, you would be wrong. This book has multiple issue and multiple fans so lets debunk the myths out there first and prepare for ourselves for the comments section.

The worst thing about this book is the unevenness of the chapter/character ratio. There are THREE siblings of an Emperor recently deceased and one of them gets less than 8 chapters in a book with a total of 50 chapters. Yep talk about unequal distribution, that alone may not be enough to bother some of you (although it should), it gets worst. This female sibling has some of the WORST characterisation I have ever seen. Don’t just take my word for it, Griffin Vanderschagehe thinks Staveley ‘ruined Adare, too few chapters and quite unrealistic behaviour, I don’t ‘believe’ this character‘. TCSimpson says ‘the sister feels like an afterthought’. I think Alucard says it best with ‘why butcher the female character so badly that she feels more like a caricature than a real character?

We aren’t exaggerating it really is that bad. You can always head over to the Book Club forum and have a more in-depth read of our opinions on the matter.

There seems to be no consistency between chapters, a lot of jumping between dialogue and narrative, then random bits of exposition. Worst of all there is a lot more telling the reader such and such did this, rather then showing the reader. These flaws combined, take readers out of the story. We become less involved, less willing to forgive minor faults and that doesn’t bode well for our overall enjoyment. Readers need to be immersed in a fantasy novel, if that is because of a fast action packed plot line, detailed characters or epic magic battles all for the good, but we need to stay immersed, else your book becomes less and less of an escape and more and more of a what the hell is this?

There are quite a few moments in each where you could almost read ‘damn I need a quick revelation to move the book along .. HERE YOU GO!’ which does not sit right with readers who well … read A LOT. The pace was quick, there was plenty of action and enough intrigue and unanswered questions to keep us guessing, despite the holes and glaring weaknesses.

We all agree there is potential, there are elements each of us would wish to see fleshed out a little more, but that is a personal preference. Griffin wants more world building in terms of the history of the world and the ‘other’ races. This is a pretty big deal as far as plot lines go but fair call to Staveley, that might just be him being coy, which is fine in a first book or a series. TCSimpson loved the battles and the magic, and I do not doubt there will be more of them in the second novel.

Now on to the stuff we can only assume the 4.5 people are using to evaluate the book. The male brothers are a powerhouse, as you would expect given that most of the book is given over to their development. Their development is strong, consistent and engaging. Their storylines contain all the interesting backstory, the tidbits of information given to the reader about this ‘other race’ and the reason the empire exists. There are elements in the story for everyone to enjoy. One brother is off learning to be a super awesome warrior, so plenty of battles there. The other brother is in a monk like isolation, so learning and spiritual enlightenment is in there too. The Emperor has just been deposed, so we have politics also. Plenty to interest everyone, so we can assume it has a wide audience, and that is the reason for such a high goodreads rating. The only problem is, none of these elements are perfect, and for a 4.5 rating I and others from the book club expected them to be.

Finally thoughts: We acknowledge it is the first on offer from a writer and so we understand there are some elements he will work on and assume he will improve them. We liked the book, we thought is was good, we just saw more holes than other people did and we are less forgiving of those holes. This review is mostly to serve as a warning. Alucard and I looked at the reviews and ratings and were expecting an exceptional book that was going to knock our socks off, and we were confused and disappointed, hopefully this review helps you enjoy it a little more!

Our combined average is 3.25 which is significantly lower than the glowing goodreads average for The Emperor’s Blades.

Happy Reading! Make sure to check out our list if you want to participate in any book clubs! It is easy, you sign up to the forums and start posting in the book club section (and elsewhere). We are super friendly and won’t bite!

About the author


Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!


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