Blades of the Old Empire. Book review

BladesOfTheOldEmpire-144dpiBLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE by Anna Kashina
Angry Robot, p/b, 496pp, £4.83
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

Prince Kythar Dorn has discovered a new ability, one which he is about to demonstrate for his siblings and the love of his life, Kara, a diamond ranked Majat warrior. But out of nowhere comes a band of hooded men. No one should have been able to sneak up on Kara, her rank being as high as it is, but these men have. And it seems they have powers that far exceed Kyth’s own.

Following the attack, Kyth and his stepbrother, with Kara as their bodyguard, set out to enlist the help of some old allies from the grasslands – without their assistance there is no hope of overcoming this new enemy. The story follows Kyth and Kara as their journey, and the many trials along the way, strengthens the bond between them.

Kyth’s sister, Ellah, also takes on a major role in the narrative, with events following her travels with those called the Keepers to discover and develop her own special ability – truthseeing. Unfortunately for Ellah the one person she really wishes she could see the truth in, is the one person she cannot. Diamond Majat Mai, their protector on the journey, is more than just a protector to Ellah. But how can she know if he feels the same way?

Both Kyth and Ellah are likeable characters and it is a joy to follow their stories.  Another character in the novel also takes on a point of view role, albeit a minor one, and while this is necessary to deliver the full story to the reader, because of its position and the small portion of the narrative it takes up, it unfortunately makes this character feel weaker and less significant than they really are within the scope of the story.

Blades of the Old Empire is a fairly traditional fantasy focusing on characters coming of age, standing up against evil forces, and attempting to overcome a threat to the world as they know it. There is a fairly even balance between the emotional aspects of the story and some fast-paced, ninja-style fight scenes, which leads to this being a pleasant, easy read and an entertaining story. A solid start to what looks to be an exciting series.