Review: The Providence of Fire

Staveley_Anderson_Providence-of-FireTitle: The Providence of Fire (2015)
Author: Brian Staveley
Pages: 737
Series: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #2 (Series Tracker)

Picking up where series-starter The Emperor’s Blades left off, siblings Adare, Valyn, and Kaden, continue their fight to save the Annurian Empire. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the first book, but any goodwill that carried over to book #2 quickly evaporated. Gone are the training sequences, monk wisdom, and black ops action scenes that made the first book so absorbing. There is more bloodshed, fighting, and military maneuvering here, and the scope has expanded to such a degree that more intimate, personal narratives are left in the dust.

I had seen some stellar reviews from people I trust, but this didn’t end up being for me. I don’t think I’ll finish the trilogy, but I am intrigued by Skullsworn, a prequel novel that focuses on Pyrre, an assassin that has been a fun side character in this series. I have faith in Brian Staveley as an author and I hope my dislike The Providence of Fire came more from the story evolving out of my comfort zone, than from the quality of the narrative he is telling.

★★½ out of 5

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Review: The Emperor’s Blades

The Emperor's BladesTitle: The Emperor’s Blades (2014)
Author: Brian Staveley
Pages: 571
Series: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #1 (Series Tracker)

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