This turned out to be a really wonderful debut novel from Brian Staveley; it’s the type of fantasy I can really sink my teeth into — excellent worldbuilding, compelling mysteries, and great action sequences. I really enjoyed the the setting and found myself poring over the appendix and the beautiful map trying to understand every aspect of this world.
The story follows the emperor’s three children: Adare, Valyn, and Kaden as they complete training in their respective disciplines. The two brothers have the meatier roles here, as Valyn trains to be a military assassin and Kaden works at a monastery honing his mental prowess. Although spread across the map, all three siblings fight against treasonous plots designed to bring down their family line. Their successes and failures are especially satisfying, as, despite their political standing, they receive no special treatment from their handlers and come by most of their skills honestly. Adare’s story is underserved but should see a larger role in book #2, which I am excited to start.
★★★★½ out of 5