Fantasy Review: ‘Blades of the Old Empire’ by Anna Kashina

Blades of the Old EmpireKyth recognized their weapons, spiked balls hanging on long thin chains.  Orbens – powerful but extremely hard to master, banned for centuries…

Flails have been banned for centuries here in the land of ‘Blades of the Old Empire.’  Why?  Because that way when people show up with them we will recognize that they are bad guys with little care for law.  And show up they will, for despite being banned and rare there are a whole lot of people who are suddenly experts in these completely impractical weapons that win exactly ZERO fights throughout the  book; their best showing was thwarted by someone’s hair blocking the worst of the blow.

‘That blow to the back of your head’s healing well.  Your hair must’ve cushioned it when the orben hit.’

There are books that can be enjoyed with enough suspension of belief.  I am the last person in the world to judge a book purely on its prose.  And I have certainly enjoyed rough outings when the best parts of them rise above the rest of the text.  But it would take a whole lot of forgiveness of a whole lot of issues for me to enjoy this one.  I am slightly ashamed I had much more fun highlighting ridiculous passages than I did reading this book.

Nimos waved a hand, a gesture answered by a rustle from across the glade as his men retreated back into the shadows.  With a last glance at Kara he darted toward the bushes.

His men get to retreat into shadows, but he darts into the nearest shrubbery?  This is too much fun.

So what do we get?  Ancient order shows up and tries to take over the land.  This cult will shadow the protagonists, showing up randomly and saying cartoon villain things like ‘We will meet again.’  Royal boy of destiny will be needed to stop it.  Don’t be fooled by the blurb, this book is about a prince full of destiny, not his female body guard.  Her role is to be lusted after, do the badass ninja thing, and move the young prince Kyth from spot to spot.   I don’t know if the blurb was designed to be misleading or just shoddily done, but as that isn’t on the author I will move on.

Characters?  We don’t need not stinking characters.  People in this book are either the luster or the lustie, and it all comes written with a heavy male gaze.  Kyth lusts for Kara, whose order just forbids love and feelings and stuff but guess who breaks through and gets his girl?  Oh lets be fair, Kyth’s friend Ellah lusts for a male body guard just as much, but he plays here like a violin throughout the story; she is never in control of that relationship like Kyth gets to be at times.  Finish it off with some minor character whose name I forgot to highlight and whose role in the story is so unmemorable I kept forgetting him completely.  He really does nothing important but sleep with the ancient forest goddess who wears nothing but spiders; sexy and dangerous.  How does he woo her?  By having a pure heart or something.

Do you like your conversations wooden and full of info deliberately designed to remind the reader of details?  How about this little bit from a child talking to Mai, the male super ninja.

“They say things about your body.  They like you, I think.  They call you… dashing and dangerous, I believe.’

Maybe you would prefer a self-righteous monologue?

‘I felt that if I let them do this to you, I’d be no better than them.  Not if I just stood by and watched, when there was something I could do about it.  So, in a way, I did it for myself.’

How about magic?  One can’t help but fear magical powers called ‘power to control’ or ‘power to kill.’  Were these just placeholder names that someone forgot to change?  Or do people really need explanations of what these powers do?  And while the evil cult of doom is stuck with only a few kinds of magic our group of protagonist take the x-men approach; everyone gets a separate magical ability!  That way everyone stays equally important and gets a role to play I would assume.

This was one of the silliest books I have ever read.  I made thirty six separate highlights while reading this one of passages that cracked me up in the wrong way.  From horrible dialog, repetitive info dumps, and constant random attacks of orbens and some major leaps of logic I almost never stopped chuckling.

2 Stars.  Recommended only for someone looking to do a humorous .gif filled review.

Review copy received free of chrange through NetGalley.




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