Is Our Writers Learning? Blades of the Old Empire (#SFWApro)

514Q1-wFlyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Anna Kashina, whom I know online, was asking for reviews of her new book, Blades of the Old Empire: Book One of the Majat Code, so that made my pick for this month’s read pretty simple (if you’re new to this blog, I try to read one fantasy novel a month published within the last year and see what I can learn from it). Cover art is by Alejandro Colucci, all rights with current holder.
The Story: Prince Kythar is a royal with a problem. He has magical gifts and by law, he should be put to death. His father, understandably, hopes to change the law. Then “Kyth” gets a bigger problem: Members of the Kaddim, a long-forgotten cult from the Old Empire days, have designs on him. When his bodyguard Kara proves a match for them, the Kaddim pay her guild (the Majat) to have Kyth delivered into Kaddim hands, and pay more to guarantee none of the other Majat super-warriors will be hired to stop her. Kara, however, is in love with Kyth and goes rogue to save him. Now they have the Majat on their back as well as the Kaddim.
What I Learned:
•It’s still possible to find secondary-world fantasies that don’t drown me in world-building. The history and the nations get described in enough detail that I know what I need to know, but Kashina doesn’t pile info-dump upon info-dump (I see too many fantasies that do).
•Description is an asset. The one thing about the book that disappointed me was that I didn’t really get a feel for the clothes. Not that I want in-depth descriptions of every button, but I’m not sure if they look medieval, Far Eastern, Hyborian Age or something completely different. A little more detail would have given me more sense of the world. As someone who often skimps on detailed description, this is a good reminder not to do that.
•Scheming doesn’t have to be boring. A depressing number of Robert E. Howard’s non-Conan swashbucklers turn meoff because they’re all about power struggles between largely interchangeable, indistinguishable power blocks. Kashina has lots of schemers but they’re all distinctive and with separate agendas, so it’s actually interesting.
•Yes, I can write sex scenes. After reading Assassin’s Gambit, I pretty much gave up on the idea of paranormal romance. It’s good to be reminded that the level of sexual detail in non-romance fantasy is a lot lower (and doable for me, I think).
•Insanely invincible warriors can be workable. I have a couple of things I’m working on that involve a mortal warrior with very high-level skills. It’s interesting to watch the fight scenes with the Majat (who are at a much higher level than I have in mind) and see what makes them work and what keeps the Majat from having things too easy.
As I don’t read much new imaginary-world fantasy (as opposed to contemporary or historical), it’s good to be reminded how much fun it can be.

2 Comments

Filed under Is Our Writers Learning?, Reading

2 responses to “Is Our Writers Learning? Blades of the Old Empire (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Writing-Related Links (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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