Tor, out now
It’s a race to gain allies for all three children of the murdered Emperor – but who can any of them really trust?
As with the first book in this trilogy, The Emperor’s Blades, Brian Staveley has devised some interesting concepts and created characters with whom you want to spend time – and the balance between the three siblings is much improved in this volume, with much more time devoted to Adare than previously. He’s clearly got his storyline mapped out and knows where each of them needs to be at the end of each book, and that may require some unevenness in coverage.
There are a whole new set of problems thrown at the protagonists this time around: Adare’s got to rebuild an army, Valyn has to deal with barbarian hordes who stand in his way, while Kaden learns some devastating secrets about the roles (and existence) of the gods. None of these sounds particularly original in this type of story, but Staveley keeps things fresh with a few twists, and continues his world-building without it too often feeling like an info-dump. That said, the first half does drag slightly, although things pick up in the second half, and you may wish that there was some way that the three siblings could communicate easily – but then, if they could, this would be a very different story!
Verdict: Fulfilling much of the potential of the first book, this is a good continuation, with plenty of scope left for surprises in the conclusion. 7/10