Inar is Master Builder for the Kingdom of Mishig-Tenh. Life is hard after the Kingdom lost the war against the League of Free Cities. Doubly so since his father betrayed the King and paid the ultimate price. And now the King’s terrifying chancellor and torturer in chief has arrived and instructed Inar to go and work for the League. And to spy for him. And any builder knows you don’t put yourself between a rock and a hard place.
Far away Anton, Blade Priest for Craithe, the God Mountain, is about to be caught up in a vicious internal war that will tear his religion apart. Chosen from infancy to conduct human sacrifice, he is secretly relieved that the practice has been abruptly stopped. But an ancient enemy has returned, an occult conspiracy is unfolding, and he will struggle to keep his hands clean in a world engulfed by bloodshed.
In a series of constantly surprising twists and turns that take the reader through a vividly imagined and original world full of familiar tensions and surprising perspectives on old tropes, Inar and Anton find that others in their story may have more influence on their lives, on the future of the League and on their whole world than they, or the reader imagined.
Thank you to Caroline and Angry Robot for allowing me to participate in this online tour!
The Last Blade is a novel of deception, deceit, and betrayal. This is the novel for you for fans of Joe Ambercrombie and Justin Call. It’s grimdark, it’s got anti-hero tropes, of course, your typical ‘elves’ have an evil trope which is good to see in a fantasy novel. The character’s in this book are easy to follow, and despite some reservations that I had with the novel, not including a glossary or a map, the worldbuilding is quite easy to follow despite the in-numerous amount of names, kingdoms, cities, and places. This is not an easy skill to master even for new or experienced writers. To write your novel and keep on redrafting it until it is understandable, to make the reader immersed in your world takes time and effort. And for a reader like me, I can even remember the most insane details of this world that I will not want to spoil. But suffice to say, Emperor Aurugdine has legendary lore that is worthy of reading.
Because the story’s biggest strength is like that of playing a Skyrim DLC. It’s comparable to that level of worldbuilding. There are details I can remember, like the wars between Stull and the League, the irate lord Cimila, and the Zealots, the Tzanate, and the Custodians. Plus, there’s also the mysterious cult that worships the Mountain. I was expecting to see more Godly moments, maybe some more interventions by divine creatures, etc. These are only suggestions. The blurb says what it does on the tin, for the builder that is Inar has to navigate through a very complicated political situation that puts his life on the line. The priest, Anton has a very peculiar path, drawn to the political machinations of old men that have long been past their due. And the child, who I was unable to figure out until perhaps the end. I’m still not sure.
Overall, this is a great fantasy novel debut, and I really enjoyed the story. Look, if a good story can carry you across the pages, then it’s done its job in my opinion. The characters are not too hard to relate too, and that’s good. This is a solid fantasy novel that I would thoroughly recommend and I really want to read the second novel now! Please include a map and a glossary next time!