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The Emperor's Blades Audiobook

The Emperor's Blades: Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, Book 1

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Publisher's Summary

In The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley, the emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.

Kaden, the heir to the Unhewn Throne, has spent eight years sequestered in a remote mountain monastery, learning the enigmatic discipline of monks devoted to the Blank God. Their rituals hold the key to an ancient power he must master before it's too late.

An ocean away, Valyn endures the brutal training of the Kettral, elite soldiers who fly into battle on gigantic black hawks. But before he can set out to save Kaden, Valyn must survive one horrific final test.

At the heart of the empire, Minister Adare, elevated to her station by one of the emperor's final acts, is determined to prove herself to her people. But Adare also believes she knows who murdered her father, and she will stop at nothing - and risk everything - to see that justice is meted out.

©2014 Brian Stavely (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (995 )
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4.6 (925 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Callum 02/12/2015
    Callum 02/12/2015 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "An enjoyable setting of scene"

    Really enjoyed the story and performance. Characters well crafted and story is promising. Easy listen with good narration. I'm excited to see what else is in store.
    Only criticism is maybe that there was a whole lot of scene setting and not a great deal happened, having said that I was gripped by the story and like the direction it takes. There is some conclusion which makes the end satisfying but leaves enough doors open to make me want to read more.
    A really good start in my opinion.
    Bring on the providence of fire!

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dwiver London 06/03/2015
    Dwiver London 06/03/2015 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliant"

    I bought this book mainly because of the narrator. Who was, as expected, excellent. However the story was brilliant. The characters are really well written and brought to life. Can't praise this book enough.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diarmuid 23/05/2015
    Diarmuid 23/05/2015 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Three different blades, one great story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Definitely. The Emperor has three children, each of whom live distant from each other, in three distinct areas. The lore and background for each area is very interesting, and you discover more as the story progresses. <br/>There is plenty of battling, laughter, treachery and twists, all of which kept me listening. Really, you never know what is going to happen next, so its hard to put those earphones down.


    What other book might you compare The Emperor's Blades to, and why?

    None spring to mind.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The battle with the Skullsworn.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Kadens thought as he trained as a monk moved me to laughter several times. Simon Vance does a good job with some deadpan narrations which me laugh.<br/>A particular death was sad as well, but I don't wish to give away any spoilers.


    Any additional comments?

    Just finished book 1, buying book 2 right now. You can't give a much better recommendation than that!

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt 09/11/2014
    Matt 09/11/2014 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Just not that good."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I found this book a real up hill struggle, I tried to enjoy it but i just couldn't, the pacing felt wrong and it's as though the author wanted you to be completely aware that this is only the first book in the series. At times the story started to get interesting as if it was building to something but for it to go nowhere. i was beginning to feel like i was Kaden getting punished in the Monastery.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Princess Adare by along way. Unfortunately she only gets a few chapters throughout the entire book but they added an intrigue and twist which makes you want to keep reading.


    What didn’t you like about Simon Vance’s performance?

    I didn't enjoy his performance. The book was tiresome enough without needing flat toned samey characterizations. It made the characters hard to differentiate from at times.


    Was The Emperor's Blades worth the listening time?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    I personally didn't appreciate this book and i enjoy a lot of fantasy novels.I really don't mind the tried and tested story line of a murdered Emperor with his defencless young child or children in this case growing into heros/anti-heroes before taking on the bad guys for justice/revenge, but to start with the characters weren't that memorable and for all the talk about how good the world building is most of the book its spent in a desolate mountain and a small island with nothing of note that stands out. Hardly Steven Erikson, G.R.R Martin or Joe Abercrombie standard. Another point is the torturous pacing. Yes i know it's the first book but there are plenty of trilogies that have fantastic openers that keep you gripped .As an example look no further than 'The Blade itself' ''The Name of the wind' and 'Tower Lord' to name but a few.I could go on but if you've found this useful and have the same taste as i do you've probably made up your mind by now.

    19 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    drmr87 20/01/2015
    drmr87 20/01/2015 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An excellent first book in a fantasy series"

    Original plot, with excellent narration. A gripping story that leaves you keen to crack on with the next book in the series. Highly recommended to fans of epic fantasy with a more mature twist such as books by Joe Abercrombie

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Wren England 22/06/2015
    Steve Wren England 22/06/2015 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fun and entertaining"

    Interesting story and set up. The three heroes all with different yet complimentary skills works well. The storyline ends well with enough unanswered questions to make me go and get the next book!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 18/11/2014
    John 18/11/2014 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
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    "A bit slow to get into but well worth the wait"

    Really enjoyed this book, found it a bit slow to start with, but following the three family members and there wildly different roles within the story kept the book interesting, unlike some books iv listened to the junctions between the three main characters was well timed and the narrator did a very good job of the voice acting. I enjoyed the different twists and turns the story took, and a few even caught me out which is always a bonus. really looking forward to the next instalment!

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anton 28/02/2015
    Anton 28/02/2015 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Aggressively mediocre, but then so is my life."

    Though generic, Stavely's plotting and world-building are solid, but the novel is plagued by dull stock characters, anachronistic prose, and an unwillingness to commit to either Abercrombian grimdarkness or sanitized Hunger Games-style YA, instead trying and failing to strike a balance between the two. On top of that, much of the dialogue is so cringe-worthy that not even the delightful Simon Vance can salvage it, though you couldn't say he doesn't try.
    However if you're really craving something in which people hit each other with swords and an ancient evil may or may not awaken, this is a passable way to kill a bunch of hours, and the sequel, "The Providence of Fire," is a vast improvement, rewarding you for sticking with the series.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TClews 07/04/2016
    TClews 07/04/2016 Member Since 2016
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    "A fantastic read for fans of grimdark fantasy"

    I loved this book start to finish, brilliant and great narration. Can't fault it. The story rolled along at a great place and never left me bored. The plot twists and changes were dramatic enough to keep me listening and wanting more, the characters are well written and very interesting. All in all a great audiobook. Very highly recommended, well done Simon on the narration and well done Brian on a great book. I think I might have to own the books as well as the audiobooks. Superb.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Brearley 20/02/2015
    Sam Brearley 20/02/2015 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
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    5
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    "Quality fantasy..."

    A well written, well thought through and well narrated romp. Avoids cliches and keeps you guessing...most of the time. Well worth it. I'm on to number two!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • Ethan M.
    Philadelphia
    08/05/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Of the various new fantasy series, this is... fine"

    I like the Emperor's Blades, but, given the many new epic fantasy series of the past few years, this isn't at the top of the list. It is clearly in the grimdark (Ambercrombie, not Rothfuss) camp - horrible events, moral ambiguity, lots of death and fighting. While not bad, it doesn't seem to add much interesting to the genre, and has some questionable choices.

    Some of the questionable choices are worldbuilding. While there are lots of nice touches (sky ninjas on giant birds!) a lot of the rest falls somewhere between cliche and nonsensical. On the cliche side, this book mostly consists of the training of two different heirs to the throne. One is being trained in a monastery with (surprise!) taciturn, koan-spouting monks and has to find the meaning of their zen-like lessons. The other is being given hardcore military training with (surprise!) taciturn, tough-as-nails officers and has to overcome bullies and physical challenges. On the nonsensical side, apparently neither of the heirs to the throne are trained in anything having to do with ruling the empire that they are inheriting. Instead, they are subject to conditions that, for no really good reason, seem designed to have a very good chance of killing them.

    The other questionable choices have to do with tone. There is a third member of the royal family, a daughter. She, like many of the women in the novel, gets a lot less time on the page. And most of the women we encounter get abused, tortured, or worse. It adds to a sense of discomfort throughout the novel.

    Nothing here is awful, and the reading is great, but the book seemed rather forced, with motivations seeming muddled and the world not really cohering into a whole. The action was often well-done, but I think there are better new fantasy series to read.

    129 of 145 people found this review helpful
  • Captain Spanky Of Nazareth
    LA CA
    09/05/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "4 Primary Crimes Committed By The Author"
    What did you like best about The Emperor's Blades? What did you like least?

    This world has a very impressive military system. A great set of forces at play. But the author commits 4 crimes against the reader that need to be called out.1) "SURPRISE! THERE'S NO ENDING IN THIS BOOK! READ THE NEXT ONE TO FIND OUT HOW THIS STORY ENDS! JUST KIDDING! READ THE ONE AFTER THAT!" These are not books. They are chapters. That is to say, they END by way of the author simply halting his writing, without the resolution of a story, let alone the primary story, and in fact, fail utterly to resolve any arc at all. - This should obviously come with a warning label since the three books combine to tell a single story. Not a single story with 3 major advents in between... just a single story. Period. - The three novels before you, are not a trilogy. They are a single book. Know this. 2) The plot is moved forward through characters being suddenly and inexplicably unintelligent and inarticulate and essentially, volunteering for victim duty. - This happens regularly and without justification. "I insist on going with you into danger, where I will get in the way because I will then be able to watch the fight as a spectator. Yet 10 pages later I will in fact present the exact opposite argument regarding the same exact fight in the same location citing zero circumstantial change because I clearly just needed a reason to be in this building."3) Repeatedly reviewing one's own circumstances aloud with a tone of wonder and awe... is lazy and ineffectual. This is the dark side of the Show-Not-Tell relationship between characters and the audience. If you SHOW the audience an awe-inspiring thing, they will feel awe. Telling the audience to feel awe by reviewing how shockingly implausible the character's survival is or how far they've come since they left Default-Village-Land 5 times is like having the author tell you he thinks you can't remember the last 3 hours to your face. I find self-review for the purpose of INFORMING the audience that they have experienced drama and not to forget it... to be repulsive.4) Repetition. - The sort of repetition that happens when an author only has one tool at his disposal. In this case it's the phrase: "If he was frightened by the giant warrior before him... he didn't show it." "If she was bothered by the weapons being brandished around her... she didn't show it." "If he was frightened by this ___ he didn't show it." Seriously. I'm guessing 30 or 40 times? ... If she was bla bla bla... LET ME GUESS! She didn't show it!?


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I would have taken the time necessary to make the primary female character morally consistent.


    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    The reader was flawless.


    Did The Emperor's Blades inspire you to do anything?

    No.


    67 of 75 people found this review helpful
  • Captain
    27/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "so slow and boring"

    So slow and boring. Nothing ever happens, just taking and world building. We all know you need "some" world building but something has to happen at some point to be interesting. It reads more like a lecture about this other place rather than a remotely interesting story to be told

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • GLENNO
    GLENDALE, AZ, United States
    31/08/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Doesn't compare with other fantasy books"

    I wanted to like this book very badly. It has a good writing style and interesting characters. The world is interesting. But it has several flaws--not fatal flaws, but serious nonetheless.

    First is the completely gratuitous use of profanity and oaths. If you have read my reviews I seldom, if ever, complain about that unless it's supposed to be a YA or children's book. But everyone in this book swears like a truck-driver. It's like they are all in middle school. Part of the problem is that the author mixes the f-word and other words we know with many made-up oaths, like Kent-kissing etc. And everyone ALWAYS say Kent-kissing (Kent being a god). ALL OF THE TIME. I listen on my phone and if I heard someone say that one more time, I was going to throw it across the room! Argh!

    The next problem comes with the plot itself. It's the story of three teenage or young-adult siblings who are dealing with life after the death of their Emperor father, although the two sons don't find out until well into the book.

    One (a son) has been at a monastery for 8 years and seems only to be taught the really important skills he will need as the next Emperor in the last several months of being there when it's almost too late. Why? No explanation.

    The next sibling (another son) has been in elite military training for 8 years. He seems to have fairly poor skills as well. After 8 years you would think he would be fairly good at some sort of military skill. It's not military school. This training is supposed to be like Navy Seal training. Other members are excellent at things like archery. Not him.

    Hey, Emperor Dad: I don't think these 8-year plans are working!

    That brings us to the third sibling (a girl). She has been with her father all of this time. She has learned the ins and outs of life in court. She knows all of the important players in the government. She makes some mistakes but it seems like she might make a good queen. But girls can't be queen. Only males can be Emperor. She was my favorite sibling even though she takes up maybe 5% of the book. Too bad. I hope that she is more featured in the sequels.

    At various times I wanted to give this book 3 stars and maybe even 4 stars. But then I think of other books I have read this year and this book just does not compare with Robert V. S. Redick's or Daniel Abraham's stories. Or Shawn Speakman's debut novel. Never mind 5-star writers like Robin Hobb or Michael J. Sullivan. I gave them 4/5 stars so I couldn't bring myself to give this book more than 2.5.

    The reader is very good, especially when reading the evil characters (for whatever reason). He helped make the book better.

    But will I read the sequel? Um...um...um. I don't know! Possibly. I do like the characters and the world is interesting. But I'm not sure it will be worth my time and money.

    64 of 77 people found this review helpful
  • Jim "The Impatient"
    Springfield, MO, United States
    02/08/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Kent Kissing Book"

    HUNGER IS FLAVOR
    Great beginning. You are there when the sheep whose brains have been scooped out is discovered. You are there as the Monk and the Warrior start training.

    SQUINT HARD ENOUGH AND EVERYTHING LOOKS SUSPICIOUS.
    Then the book turns into storytelling and we are no longer there. It all becomes past tense. It becomes boring.

    29 of 36 people found this review helpful
  • Deldepth
    15/05/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The pace of the story dragged it down."

    As far as stories goes, this has a very slow pace. It wasn't until the last few hours of the audiobook when the story really started to pick up and gain shape. Up until that point, there were just a multitude of cliché cliff hangers while the story switched from character to character.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Keith
    Denton Texas United States
    31/07/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good beginning, good ending, bad middle."

    The concept of the book is not bad (if you don't mind superimposing a modern worldview/culture on a pre industrial fictional civilization). Staveley starts and ends the story well, but the middle is kind o a mess with a disproportionate amount of time devoted to draconian military training rather than moving the plot forward. If he cut about 50,000 words it would be right on the money.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • John
    MS
    24/05/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So - So"

    While much of the world-building is somewhat unique, the consistently unappealing, unlikeable characters are tough to take through 3 books.

    There are a couple of constants in this series (1) NO one trusts anyone else; so, lack of even the most obvious communication drives the plot from beginning to end and (2) the entire world seems built on a foundation of pain, suffering, killing, torture, horrible judgement, bad decisions etc etc etc. No joking when I say it nearly impossible to sympathize with any character.

    The author also seems to have periods where he seems fixated with unnecessary activities - like peeling off scabs. Book 1 is the most interesting as it sets up the 3 siblings at the heart of the plot. Book 2 is entirely driven by the stupidity of those siblings. Book 3 redeems the story some, but veers too much toward making the villain(s) nearly omniscient. By hour 50+ of the series, you're just ready for it to end.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • William Harrison
    18/05/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A gem.."

    If your tired of mediocre and are looking for a gem, you've come to the right place. Reminiscent of the Misty borne trilogy.. Depth of characters, tense and interesting plot twists, and contemplative..

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • M. Spencer
    Buffalo
    27/09/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fast Paced"

    Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It was fast paced and exciting. The characters could be a bit thick at times and some of the decisions made little sense, but I liked the world a lot and the characters well enough. Simon Vance, the narrator, is one of the great ones--his voice is perfect for fantasy novels.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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