Okay, let me pick my heart up from the floor and try to write a review for this
conclusion masterpiece. This whole series was a roller-coaster, but this last and final book was just me experiencing love and heartbreak over and over. Seriously, the range of emotions this series made me feel is indescribable, but mostly I was an incoherent mess while reading. Not only does Brian Staveley write love so seamlessly and perfect, but he writes unconditional love, in an epic fantasy series, better than maybe anyone I’ve read.
“It’s not always up to a man,” the Flea replied quietly, “what he is, and what he’s not. Some things you don’t get to choose.”
I see many people saying this was the weakest book in this series, but it was easily my favorite and, in my very humble opinion, the best. This elaborate plot became even more addicting, these characters made me even more heartbreakingly empathetic, and this world left me breathless over and over.
I was concerned, because I had to put this book down a few times because of upcoming ARCS, so I was apprehensive about how I’d feel to pick it back up. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I was falling asleep last night, struggling to stay awake just so I could finish. I woke up this morning, rolled over, and finished the last ~10% of this book before I even made my coffee! If that is not a testament to my love for this book, I’m not sure what is.
This book isn’t just a fantasy novel surrounding the path of three could-be-emperors after their father has died, while they fight for his throne. This story is about humanity at its very core; the essence of it both ugly and beautiful and everything else in between. This is a tale of empathy and sacrifice and what it means to be truly selfless. This chronicle is about the different paths we each take every day in our world, and the priority we put on religion, family, friends, strangers, power, materialistic things, and everything else under the sun.
This being the third and final book in the series, it’s sort of hard to do a review justice without spoilers. Instead, I’ll just give my thoughts on some of the main characters, their developments, and how they made me feel.
Adare is a character I love and understand, even though I see many people hating on her. The growth she experiences throughout these three books is pretty insane. By the epilogue of this book, I was so moved by her and her sacrifices.
“It was a good lesson, if she somehow survived to remember it: silence had its own violence; some reigns ended in blades and fire; some with the barest nod of a head.”
Kaden got the short end of the stick, in my opinion. I’ll be honest, I cared about him less than Adare and Valyn, but I made up for it with my unwavering love for Triste. Plus, his chapters spent in Rassambur, home of the Skullsworn, were some of the best chapters in this whole book.
“There are words,” Gerra mused, “and there are deeds.”
Valyn, oh my poor Valyn. I’m tearing up typing out his name. I’m fine, completely normal and not too heavily invested in fictional characters. Valyn broke me over and over, and, obviously, I’m still a little broken from his character. I fell in love with him in this book, and he will be one of my favorite characters of all time. Also, his opening chapter shook my very core. Brian Staveley’s writing is seriously incontestably amazing.
“Sometimes you need to break a thing,” the Flea said finally, “in order to see what’s inside it.”
Gwenna‘s point of view ended up being my favorite. Again, I could write my own book about how amazing Brian Staveley writes women of all different strengths in this world, but Gwenna was something special from book one. My single complaint about this beautiful conclusion is that Gwenna deserved to at least tell her feelings to someone, because, on the real, she and that someone are literally OTP goals. Maybe eventually Brian Staveley will write that story, since he is already expanding this world in Skullsworn (which, holy moly, I need to get my hands on this now!), but until then I will be crying and praying.
Triste was my second favorite character, and she is pretty much everything that is good in this world. Triste is such a selfless character that never asked for the path she was forced to walk. I’m at a loss for words when it comes to her, because I’m not sure any will do her character or storyline justice. Seriously, perfection.
“I’m used to being given up by now. I expect it. But I’ll tell you what I won’t do—I won’t accept it. I won’t play along.”
Pyrre is also on a whole other level in terms of strong females in high fantasy today. This death worshiper somehow managed to fill my heart completely, and, again, I need Skullsworn immediately.
I encourage all my friends and followers to pick up The Emperor’s Blades and give it a try, especially if you’re a fantasy lover. This empire, and all the smaller places we get to experience, is something on a different level of fantasy. The characters will make you feel everything under the sun, whether it is love, hate, or pure empathy. The writing and prose are so beautiful, I found myself rereading passages over and over, even in very heated, life or death, battle scenes. This story is fast paced, thought provoking, and simply magnificent. I can’t wait to reread this trilogy over and over. This is now one of my favorite series of all time.
Me, pretending to be calm while actually dying inside over this book: