The Emperor of the Annurian Empire has been killed, leaving the empire in turmoil and his three children separated in different sections of Annur, fighting to stay alive and save their empire. The oldest and the only daughter, Adare, is at the heart of the empire. She searches for the murderer of her father in the city she grew up in while doing her best to hold her father’s empire together. Kaden, the oldest son and heir to the Unhewn throne is at the very edge of civilization in a remote monastery, learning the ways of the Blank God. The youngest brother Valyn is training to join the ranks of the deadliest fighters in the empire: the Kettral. All three siblings have to fend off attempts at their life while trying to do what they believe is best for their empire.
The world building in this book by Staveley is incredible. The world is rich with detail, from the differences in people throughout parts of the empire to the religions of this other world. The world is polytheistic, having gods for pleasure and pain, fire/light and even darkness. The point of view in the novel switches often between each of the siblings, moving between Kaden, Valyn, and Adare’s points of view. In many books this ends up creating a very disjointed, confusing narrative; however the same was not true for this novel. If anything, this enhanced the feelings of suspense created by the action in the novel, as the reader must wait a chapter or several chapters before getting to hear the next portion of any of the siblings’ stories. A word of caution: there are many graphic depictions of violence as well as quite a bit of explicit language (though most of it is made up for this world), and some sexual content. However, they are not overwhelming. All in all, a good read!
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