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Monday, March 03, 2014

Blades of the Old Empire by Anna Kashina

I picked up BLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE on Netgalley because of its intriguing cover copy; I was really in the mood for a butt-kicking heroine with a major moral dilemma. Unfortunately, that's not really what BLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE is. The blurb is actually misleading. Kara is not the main character, as I expected from the text and the fact that she's the only figure on the cover, but she's actually one of a number of characters we follow, and one we don't get to know terribly well. She's more prominent in the latter half of BLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE but a lot of what we learn about Kara comes from other people's perceptions of her, particularly at the start.

Once you get past the hopefully inadvertent deception, you're left with a fairly standard fantasy novel.  Aside from Kara, who is a diamond ranked Majat warrior for hire, we also meet Kyth, the prince she protects and who has feelings for her; Mai, one of Kara's fellow mercenaries and one of the few with equal skill; Raithan, another member of their guild; Kyth's sister Ellah, who comes to play a significant role in the story; Kyth's foster brother, whose name completely escapes me; and a few others who play key roles in the overall storyline. With so many characters who get a lot of page time, it's hard to connect with any of the characters. The story jumps through a variety of storylines that all twine together but there are so many named characters that it feels a bit overwhelming at times.

The plot has a lot of familiar threads in it. You have a coming-of-age story for Kyth, as he learns to master his powers and cope with his illicit romantic feelings for Kara. You see the same type of growth in his two pals, as they learn what their purposes are. There's also old evil magic on the rise, and their leader has his sights set on Kyth because of his special gift. Kara is torn between love and duty and is compelled to make difficult choices, which leads to other characters making more of the same. There are moments where it all feels a bit clunky but it's still a decent story if you're in the mood for something with the typical tropes of the genre.

As a final note, I'd say don't be put off by the cover. It's frankly quite bad but you shouldn't let that dissuade you if you are looking for a very traditional fantasy novel. BLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE has many of the major points in the genre, like coming of age, evil forces, ancient order, and all that stuff. As the first book in Kashina's Majat Code series, BLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE will give you a decent idea of the world the author is building.


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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2 People left their mark' :

  1. I think I'll be passing on this one. I never like feeling betrayed by a book. Surprised, yes, but not betrayed.

  2. Yeah, I can understand that. Thanks for commenting!