Monday, August 5, 2013

Book review: "Heirs of the Blade" by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I've been following Adrian Tchaikovsky's "Shadows of the Apt" series for quite some time now (counted in books, at least, not in years). Even though it cannot be said I am super-excited whenever I read another books in series, it is still an interesting series and I would recommend it to anybody who wants fantasy in a bit of different wrapping - steampunk, insect-based races, magic vs. technology... "Heirs of the Blade" is the seventh book in series that I have read and there is at least couple more to go.

"Shadows of the Apt" follows a curious cycles: odd books are focused more on smaller stories of particular characters, while even books are more epic and deal with world-scope events. "Heirs of the Blade" is typical odd book, dealing with story of Tynisa and Che. After her father's Tisamon death few books ago, Tynisa wandered off in search for some kind of resolution, depressed and feeling guilty for numerous deaths she was not able to stop. In her search, Tynisa has come to Commonweal, a home of her dead love Salme Dien. She is about to find that Commonweal is not an idealistic and romantic place she imagined based on Salma, full of valiant knights and caring nobility. On the other side of the world, in Khanaphes, after following Che, a shade of Tisamon escaped and is now on course to haunt Tynisa. Cherwell, now accompanied by Tharlic, is aware of that and is willing to do what it takes to stop it, even if it means embracing her new destiny of Inaptitude...

As I said, this is a smaller scope book and is mostly concentrated on Tynisa and Che. But we do get some glimpses of story to come, by POVs of Wasp Empress Seda, a future Queen of dark magic; by Angved the engineer, and by Preada and Ammon. I did expect more from these plot-lines, but they end pretty abruptly. I presume they will be the focus of next book in series, "The Air War".

The good thing about the plot is that is ti pleasantly confusing and pretty unpredictable. It is really hard to guess what will happen next, but it doesn't fell forced and unnatural. I don't know why, but I came to think about this book as very long, even though it is only some 350 pages.

We follow mostly the well-known characters like Che, Tynisa and Tharlic, but there are some old appearing again, like Gaved the Wasp and Seda. The new characters, especially Dal Arche and his bandits, and Varmen, are also very good. I always wondered why focus Che as a central character, but now the things are coming to place. And Seda is one pretty impressing character...

Tchaikovsky become much better with words in time. He was all right before, some sometimes he did insert some clumsy phrases - now the story is nicely flowing. I like how different people tend to concentrate of different things: some on architecture, some on military and defenses, some on architecture... He also did very well with presenting strangeness of Commonweal. And the scene with beetle-stag and mantis is an awesome one - it presents how unique the setting is very well. Another think that deserves mention if the final duel, which was written with much details and realism.

I know this is a somewhat short review, but it is not necessary to say more than that if you liked previous books in "Shadows of the Apt", you will more than like this "Heirs of the Blade". A recommendation for both the book and the series.

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