Series: Tower and Knife Trilogy #1
Published on October 27, 2011
Published by Night Shade Books
Format: eBook, 365 pages
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First sentence: Hands found Sarmin through the confusion of his dreams and the tangle of his sheets.
Mazarkis Williams picked deserts and Arabian inspired culture as a setting for his debut novel The Emperor’s Knife. It’s a refreshing change from the medieval based setting that most of the fantasy authors use. Add to this two magic systems:
- Commanding one specific element (fire/stone/air..) by forming symbiotic relationship with elementals;
- Spell-casting by drawing intricate patterns on objects and hive-mind group behavior;
and we have a base for a great fantasy book. I love good unique magic in a book, and on this, The Emperor’s Knife did not disappoint me. My only regret is that there is almost no explanation how that magic actually works.
The story is told through four points of views:
- Prince Sarmin, locked in a tower from childhood;
- Eyul, royal assassin, whose honorary title Emperor’s Knife is the name of the books also;
- Mesema, Sarmin’s fiance from the horse-riders tribe in the northern planes;
- Tuvaini, the high vizier – emperor’s chief adviser.
They all plot and scheme trying to fulfill their desires. Whether they yearn for freedom, forgiveness for past sins, love or power, each of them weaves another strand in a web of court intrigues that can have only one winner.
I usually love multiple viewpoints in a book because they offer us different perspectives, but in this case, they only added to the general confusion. The descriptions jump from one character to the other randomly and sometimes just after one page or even paragraph of text. It’s better if writers stick to rule one chapter per character and to use multiple POVs in one chapter only when there is a culmination of plot.
If we disregard the POV confusion problems, there is good character development for all main and even some side-characters in a story. The only front where this failed is romance/love. There was a lot of sex happening, but I could not feel the love, affection or sometimes even motivation for it between characters, even where it should be. But I’m a girl, so maybe male readers won’t even notice this.
The Emperor’s Knife is an interesting start to a series and Mazarkis Williams is definitely a new promising fantasy writer. I only hope that point of view jumps will not be so sudden and quick in Knife Sworn, next book in a trilogy. Knife Sworn is next on my to-be-read list so I will find out soon enough. 🙂