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'Blades of the Old Empire' is a good fantasy but I expected better

Can Kara and Prince Kyth survive the Kaddim
Angry Robot Books

Blades of the Old Empire


"Blades of the Old Empire" by Anna Kashina seems to be the first book in a new sword and sorcery trilogy, but it is actually a continuation of a previous trilogy set in the same universe. Thus, the early action, where the background of major characters is missing or not well explained is understandable, but the reader could have used a brief summary of prior action. It clearly hinders the new reader as fundamental facts about characters are not told. It is almost like not getting the punchline of a joke because you walked in mid-telling.

Prince Kyth has the magical ability to focus energy against his enemies -- at first it's merely the wind through his sword, but soon he has learned to harness other forms of energy. But Kyth's abilities have attracted the attention of the Kaddim, an ancient cult of deathless sorcerers, who want to join his power to that of their leader. Kyth is able to withstand the initial attempted abduction with the help of Kara, a Diamond Majat warrior. Apparently the Majat take service with various leaders as bodyguards. Kyth has a growing romantic feeling for Kara, one that his father is not in favor, who wants Kyth to marry a fellow noblewoman.

Kyth's growing power is anathema to the Church, which has a policy of killing magic wielders and forbidding them from ascending to rule. Kyth's father wants to change the law so his son can rule, but that would require a full vote of a council.

Thus Kyth's father King Evan decides to take a small party to seek the vote of an ally, with a team of Majat warriors as bodygurards.

Meanwhile, Kyth journeys with Kara back to the Majat home base to re-acquire her services as a bodyguard.

Each party runs into problems with the Kaddim and there is a lot of intrigue and fighting. Kyth and Kara have to thwart several attacks by the Kaddim. King Evan is taken prisoner by his supposed ally, who seems to be in thrall to the Kaddim.

Kara also has problems at her guild. The Kaddim want to purchase both Kara's services (under the rules of the guild) so that she can kidnap Kyth and his foster brother. The Guild has also agreed not to interfere with the Kaddim's actions.

Will Kara abide by her guild's commands? If she does, she will betray the prince, her lover, but if she does not, she will be cast out of the guild and hunted by the guild to be put to death.

While the substance of the story has plenty of potential, and there is plenty of action, Kasina frequently takes shortcuts with magic so that characters can escape their situations. The whole story arc of Kara's trip to the guild and eventual choice of betraying her guild or her lover is beyond belief.

It is an okay fantasy, but I had higher expectations.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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