The Ember Blade
A land under occupation. A legendary sword. A young man’s journey to find his destiny.Aren has lived by the rules all his life. He’s never questioned it; that’s just the way things are. But then his father is executed for treason, and he and his best friend Cade are thrown into a prison mine, doomed to work until they drop. Unless they can somehow break free . . .But what lies beyond the prison walls is more terrifying still. Rescued by a man who hates him yet is oath-bound to protect him, pursued by inhuman forces, Aren slowly accepts that everything he knew about his world was a lie. The rules are not there to protect him, or his people, but to enslave them. A revolution is brewing, and Aren is being drawn into it, whether he likes it or not.The key to the revolution is the Ember Blade. The sword of kings, the Excalibur of his people. Only with the Ember Blade in hand can their people be inspired to rise up . . . but it’s locked in an impenetrable vault in the most heavily guarded fortress in the land. All they have to do now is steal it. . .Designed to return to classic fantasy adventures and values, from a modern perspective, this is a fast-moving coming-of-age trilogy featuring a strong cast of diverse characters, brilliant set-pieces and a powerful character and plot driven story.

The Ember Blade Details

TitleThe Ember Blade
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 20th, 2018
PublisherGollancz
ISBN-139781473214866
Rating
GenreFantasy, Epic Fantasy, Fiction, Adult, Science Fiction Fantasy

The Ember Blade Review

  • Petrik
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher—Orion Publishing Group (Gollancz)—in exchange for an honest review.4.5/5 starsWooding strikes a magnificently fine balance between classic epic fantasy and grimdark fantasy, making this an amazing start to a new trilogy.To be honest, I feel like the love for classic fantasy has started to dwindle these days and has been replaced with a thirst for grimdark or fantasy with darker tones; most likely due to the fame garnered by the Game of Thrones TV show. This isn’t ac ARC provided by the publisher—Orion Publishing Group (Gollancz)—in exchange for an honest review.4.5/5 starsWooding strikes a magnificently fine balance between classic epic fantasy and grimdark fantasy, making this an amazing start to a new trilogy.To be honest, I feel like the love for classic fantasy has started to dwindle these days and has been replaced with a thirst for grimdark or fantasy with darker tones; most likely due to the fame garnered by the Game of Thrones TV show. This isn’t actually a bad thing, and I have to say that I kind of feel the same. The reason behind this is that classic fantasy is starting to feel too familiar with the majority of books following the same kind of good versus evil structure that’s getting more and more predictable. Reading classic fantasy now is in my opinion like coming home to something incredibly well known; it’s always comfy and you’re highly familiar with it. Readers want new adventures, something unpredictable and fresh, not the same kind of adventures they’ve already experienced time and time again. This is where The Ember Blade will come in and change your mind. Rooted heavily in classic epic fantasy but imbued with the element of the morally grey character found in grimdark, Wooding has created a hybrid in this book and the result was amazing. Imagine coming home and there are pleasant surprises to be found; you open your fridge, crack open an egg and you get two yolks instead of one. That’s how it felt reading this book.The Ember Blade storyline started as highly inspired by typical classic fantasy tropes, with two teenage boys—Aren and Cade—encountering an event that would soon change their lives forever. However, I can guarantee you that 10% in, you’ll soon realize that the story starts to differ from the norm and keeps on getting better. It was gripping, well-paced, and unpredictable. The first half was full of dangers for the main characters and honestly speaking, I’m usually not a fan of this kind of storytelling structure; I prefer characterizations first and dangers later. I don’t mind how slow-paced the book is, because I need to care about the characters first and foremost. This is another great example of why Wooding’s storytelling was surprisingly wonderful to read for me. Despite all the dangers in which he placed the characters in the first half, he made sure to not neglect any characterizations here and there that made me truly care about the characters’ predicament. Where the first half focused majorly on Aren and Cade, the second half of the book slowed down the pacing by introducing a more detailed and well-executed multi-perspectives narration; this made EVERY single character compelling to read. I have to admit that some parts in the first half, where the characters were in Skavengard, went a bit too long for me due to the lack of familiarity and characterizations with the new set of characters that were introduced there, but the second half of the book made up for this minor issue masterfully.I haven’t read any of Wooding’s work before this, but if his characterizations are as good as those in this book, then I’ll have to make sure to get his preceding series; characterizations always make or break any book, and those I found here definitely made the book shine for me. The characters’ fluctuating emotions and motivations could truly be felt; they were realistic, nuanced, and complex. What made it even better was that the grimdark element ensured that none of the characters were truly what they seemed at first. These characters, and I mean ALL characters with perspectives, were incredibly complex. As good or bad as they may seem, they have their own problems and agendas to deal with. The morally grey characters resulted in a very gripping narrative because it was difficult to predict what the characters would do. The execution of the situation where we as the readers know their backgrounds, thoughts, and secrets while the other characters didn’t was, in a word: greatness. “To speak from the heart required more bravery than any physical risk. To heal a wound was so much harder than to cause one.” Although the characters at times were morally grey, this doesn’t mean that it was hard to love them; it was actually very easy to love these characters. The way I perceived it, Wooding placed the heaviest value in this book on friendship and honor. Aren and Cade’s brotherhood for one became one of the strongest driving factors of the book for me. Wooding really knows how to create a situation that will keep the reader coming back to the questions: “will they come back from this?” or “will he/she do it?” and I couldn’t be happier with it. “A friendship of half a lifetime shouldn’t be broken by a few harsh words.” Let me say once again that this isn’t a grimdark book. It’s a classic epic fantasy told in a modern narrative to which was added some of the aspects of the morally grey character from the grimdark genre; the tone of the book itself was never bleak. The characters do live in a grim and oppressive world but the themes of hope, kindness, and grand adventure contained in your beloved classic fantasy were always there to balance things out. “In her lessons, as in life, they’d often find themselves dealt a hand that was less than fair. She’d teach them to overcome a disadvantage any way they could.” From the excellent characterizations to the relentless chase, from breathtaking set pieces to the intricate world-building, everything was written with finesse. It seriously doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan of classic, epic, or grimdark fantasy (even better if all three), there’s a place for you here. The Ember Blade is a book every fantasy fan will feel right at home with, and yet will find new adventures in it. It's a book that fantasy readers will love to revisit and inhabit longer and longer with every visit. The Ember Blade has been forged to stand the test of time and I sincerely hope you'll wield the blade yourself.The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.Official release date: September 20th, 2018You can pre-order the book HERE!You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
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  • Bookdragon Sean
    January 1, 1970
    I read a lot of fantasy, though I’ve never read a fantasy book that somehow manages to incorporate elements from so many other books and make them original and unrepetitive. It’s a triumph of writing, and I dare say one of the best in the genre for a very long time. I gave it five stars because it is a masterful balancing of new and old. Please listen to what I have to say about it!The plot picks up real quickly. Aren’s father is executed on jumped up charges of treason. Aren has no idea why, to I read a lot of fantasy, though I’ve never read a fantasy book that somehow manages to incorporate elements from so many other books and make them original and unrepetitive. It’s a triumph of writing, and I dare say one of the best in the genre for a very long time. I gave it five stars because it is a masterful balancing of new and old. Please listen to what I have to say about it!The plot picks up real quickly. Aren’s father is executed on jumped up charges of treason. Aren has no idea why, to his eye his father has always been the perfect servant to Krodan rule. Aren finds himself in prison with his best friend Cade and together they begin to hatch an escape plan. And it’s not until he is behind prison bars that Aren realises how messed up the world is. He’s spent his entire life believing the dogma the Krodan empire has fed him, and now he sees the reality of empire. Empire is evil. Empire is dominating and destructive. And it echoes the real world. If we are to step outside this fantastic world Wooding has created (hard to do I know) but the most successful empires achieve their goal of subjugating the conquered by controlling their language and religion. The Krodan empire is no different. It’s been drawn from the efficiency of the Roman empire and the vileness of Nazi Germany. The Krodan Empire has death camps and a strict legal process that controls all aspects of life. Cough in the wrong way and you’re fucked. Travel without a permit and you’re dead. It takes a long way for Aren to realise this, and even longer for him to realise that he can work towards toppling such an awful regime. The Ember Blade is the key. It’s a weapon of such legendary status that it can unite the fractured lands behind its bearer. It’s protected by armies and dreadknights (evil warriors who draw on dark power.) On the road to getting it, a rather random (yet compatible) party take up the quest. There number include, a druid, a minstrel, a thief, a knight and several freedom fighters. Each come with their own skill sets and abilities, and each is needed to reach the blade and pull off such a large scale heist. And I love when a party like this is used properly, it really gives the story an added edge. But it's so much more than that!Wooding has also gotten his hands very dirty here. He’s not reluctant to kill off likeable characters in order to keep the plot moving. There’s treachery aplenty, along with several other dark themes like suicide and drug use. There’s prisons, dungeons and monsters. And there’s also druids, knights and minstrels. It’s classic old school type epic fantasy (in the vein of Robert Jordon and Terry Brooks) though it’s distinctively modern with its undertones of grimdark plotting. There’s a standard coming of age story and a legendary sword of power. There’s Tolkienesque style chase/travel scenes with the looming threat of some dark power, though underneath it all is the grittiness and moral greyness that makes grimdark so alluring. Indeed, The Ember Blade has many classic tropes but it’s unafraid to branch out, exploring new ideas to defy narrative expectation. And that’s kind of important. I don’t like to read predictable books, books where I know how it’s all going to end (and with fantasy that seems to happen an awful lot.) I like to be surprised. I like characters that shock me with their decisions and hidden depths. Wooding has been so careful here, not to give too much early on, and to peel back the layers slowly until his big reveals. It really kept me reading.There’s quite a lot I could say about the characters here and how complex some of their backgrounds are, though I don’t want to get bogged down with the details. So let me simply say this: never judge people (or characters) by their moods or appearances (Garric, Fen and Grub.) Wooding really gives insight into the behaviour of them as he explored the reason for their actions and the paths they may take in the future. I loved the room for growth here and the unpredictable nature of their behaviour. Their decisions had a lot of effect, and I felt they could have gone many different ways. Coming into the ending, I had no idea how it would all go down. So this is a rather grand first instalment in a trilogy that could be one of the best epic fantasy has ever seen. I really have high hopes for where this will go because I know it will do the unexpected. Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    773 pages. 2 days to read. 1 review to write.On a day that changes his life forever, Aren sees his father knifed to death in the dining room of their own home by a watchman of the Iron Hand, inquisitors who deal with only the gravest threats to the Krodan Empire. Removed to a prison mine with his best friend, Cade, his conviction that somehow the vaunted Krodan justice he was raised to have total faith in will soon remedy their situation is chipped away by the brutal indifference he finds there. 773 pages. 2 days to read. 1 review to write.On a day that changes his life forever, Aren sees his father knifed to death in the dining room of their own home by a watchman of the Iron Hand, inquisitors who deal with only the gravest threats to the Krodan Empire. Removed to a prison mine with his best friend, Cade, his conviction that somehow the vaunted Krodan justice he was raised to have total faith in will soon remedy their situation is chipped away by the brutal indifference he finds there. Getting out only proves that his life was built on foundations of falsity and betrayal. So far, so normal, right? Let’s be honest now, the blurb doesn’t sound entirely inspiring. But in a perfect example of how to under promise and over deliver, what you might think you’re getting is a typical, somewhat out-dated, young man on a quest to find himself and save the world, and what you’re actually getting is a complex, morally ambiguous, cleverly told story that has 773 pages feeling like something over way too soon. Picture, if you will, the great works of fantasy in the form of battered warriors, stood shoulder to shoulder, stretching into the past in a line unbreaking. In The Ember Blade, we see echoes of them all: traces in a place, a name, or the fundamentals of character, in the heroic nature of the quest, the prison break, the destiny chased, or the you-shall-not-pass moment. There’s so much in this new arrival that feels like them, but it is no bastard child. Instead, this warrior steps up to take his place beside them, inspired by what came before and offering a respectful and loving ode to their skills, while proving his own worth in every word and deed. And he’s going to do with with a wink and a smile, no less.What’s history but a series of lessons we didn’t learn?The Krodan Empire has an obvious connection to the Roman, bringing ‘peace’ to their neighbours by the sword in their own version of the Pax Romana. It reminds us that these conflicts are not only fancies of the author’s mind; the detailed interconnections between the two Empires enhance the veracity of the narrative, one example, of many, is the Krodan religious conversion to the Sword and the Word harking to Constantine’s conversion to Christanity. The book owes as much to Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as anything else and acts as a warning from without: all things change. As in the regions of Roman conquest, the Krodan invasion of Ossia, thirty years past, has left the population deeply divided, each person having an intensely individual response to the occupation, from collaboration to outright revolt. Aren, son a noble made rich by cooperation, is Ossian born, but raised in the Krodan style, conditioned to respect their culture, laws, and religion, while Cade is lower born and Ossian through and through. After all, the struggling classes have a much greater distance from Krodan influence, it’s much more important to indoctrinate those in society who are powerful or useful. If this seems simplistic, it’s because it’s only the set up, there to lull you into a false sense of superiority. As you keep reading you notice that every character has a nuanced, personal, layered, and complicated set of ideas about their country, the occupation, their fellow citizens, the Krodans (as individuals and as a group), the Sards (a traveller/gypsy community), the wrongs of the past, and what should be done about the future. And they change with experiences and new information, making mistakes along the way. The author makes sure that humanity = complexity, it’s exceptionally done. The modern has its place too. Literary wise, what’s most evident is the kind of subversion of expectations, undermining of heroic ideals, and crushing of hopes that is most often associated with grimdark. And yet, the overarching feeling is far from that, not grimdark but grim reality. Characters are far from perfect, often driven by baser emotions: bitterness, greed, jealousy, pride, fear, despair. It’s a world full of false ideologies and petty resentments, people who aim for misunderstanding instead of acceptance. The group itself is tested by its individualism- it’s no immediate band of brothers, but people with their own fears and secrets, together for convenience and necessity. They have to grow into a team, but the fact that they do, even if it takes the whole book, sets it apart from the truly grim. Honour, friendship, and oaths have value in this world, for some. Even so, there are no real white knights or black hats; a champion might have a racist aversion to the Sards and a torturer might love his family above everything. High ideals are tested, and qualified, again and again. They're well and good in theory, but when a character is forced to make choices that pits lofty ideas against the lives of their family and friends, the ‘right’ answer is less clear cut. Each character’s thoughts and actions raise questions about their personal morality, allowing you, if you dare, to truly understand who you are as much as who they really are. There’s so much in here about the use and misuse of power, slavery, racism, truth and lies that it could read as a primer for the ethical questions of contemporary society. The most important in the book is probably: what makes a hero? Modern translation: what do you, or what should you, fight for? And how? There are some answers here, if not definitive ones. The author never allows the reader to be comfortable with assumptions or easy labels, whether you’re a freedom fighter or terrorist is frequently a matter of perspective.When it comes to the mechanics of the writing and plot, the author has it down pat. It’s clever and challenging, but also funny. Scenes switch between intimacy and humour and horror and back again with an unsettling rapidity that feels like anything can happen. Nobody is safe. Especially when the Dreadknights turn up. The second half is somewhat slower, as more perspectives are added, and the action packed journey sequences switch to a greater focus on themes and character development. But the explosive finale has more than enough bang for anyone. The rousing ending has the greatest appeal to classic epic fantasy- a group forged in blood and betrayal, bonded by their oaths to do what needs to be done against any and all odds. I, for one, stand with them. This is the fantasy book we’ve all be waiting for.ARC via publisher.***Chris Wooding confirmed this will be the first in a trilogy, though there’s a possibility of other stories set in the same world. All of which makes me happy.
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  • James Tivendale
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best fantasy books I've read in years. An instant classic!
  • Swiffer
    January 1, 1970
    I’ll cut to the quick: Chris Wooding’s The Ember Blade is one of the best starts to an epic fantasy series that I’ve ever read. This book is a massive 800-page tome, yet it stays economical in its scope. It is a story filled with thoughtful insights, rousing battles, tense chase scenes, richly drawn characters, and tender moments of friendship and loss. It is a coming of age story, a desperate act of revolution, a struggling morality play, and a meditation on family and loyalty. And above all, i I’ll cut to the quick: Chris Wooding’s The Ember Blade is one of the best starts to an epic fantasy series that I’ve ever read. This book is a massive 800-page tome, yet it stays economical in its scope. It is a story filled with thoughtful insights, rousing battles, tense chase scenes, richly drawn characters, and tender moments of friendship and loss. It is a coming of age story, a desperate act of revolution, a struggling morality play, and a meditation on family and loyalty. And above all, it is a story of hope and determination, and the sacrifices made to change the course of a nation.After the first half of the book focuses on outward conflict, the story shifts focus towards the interpersonal relationships amongst the group. This is really when the book begins to shine: the friendships feel natural and lifelike, but Wooding really excels at depicting broken relationships within the group. There is pure hatred and strife between several of the characters, yet all sides of these relationships feel justified. Each character's journey is given ample time to breathe and grow, and it was incredibly satisfying to see how far our group has come over the course of the story. There are no less than 11 protagonists in our group of heroes, plus some additional side characters that help give depth to other side of the conflict, and no one is neglected from their time in the spotlight. One of the more satisfying decisions I encountered was how Wooding sometimes chose to tell a chapter's story through the eyes of a secondary character, instead of the person who's is the central figure at the moment. We're able to still view the major events of the chapter, but we also learn how the actions affect others in the group, and what emotions and reactions their decisions have influenced. In most of my book reviews, I like to share some semblance of the plot: describing the main characters, or the overall conflict that's driving the story forward. I will not do that here. I think it will be most rewarding if you go into this book completely blind and let the author piece together this world in your mind. Wooding has woven a tale that perfectly balances a wide cast of engaging, lifelike characters, set inside a richly-developed world that you experience through the characters' eyes. This is an all-ages fantasy tale with more than a few instances of adult themes. There are traumatic moments that are gleaned from scenes of emotional turmoil as much as character deaths. I audibly gasped several times during the Misson Impossible-style finale that covered the final 200 pages of the story. And when I turned the final page, wiping a curious amount of wetness around my eyes, I felt a deep sense satisfaction and gratification of a story brilliantly told. This is only the first volume of a planned trilogy, but it also functions as an incredible standalone work of fantasy. In short, The Ember Blade is everything I could possibly want in an epic fantasy novel, and so much more. Buy this book as soon as it is available.9.5 / 10
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  • Adam Whitehead
    January 1, 1970
    Two great empires have dominated the east of Embria, the fall of the great subterranean empire of the urds heralding the rise of Ossia, protected by the Ember Blade and the sacred order of Dawnwardens. But thirty years ago Ossia was invaded in turn by Kroda, a kingdom of order, logic and science. Declaring itself the Third Empire, Kroda sees its destiny is to unite the continent through the Sword and the Word.Although it is a land under occupation, life is good for many Ossians. The Krodans keep Two great empires have dominated the east of Embria, the fall of the great subterranean empire of the urds heralding the rise of Ossia, protected by the Ember Blade and the sacred order of Dawnwardens. But thirty years ago Ossia was invaded in turn by Kroda, a kingdom of order, logic and science. Declaring itself the Third Empire, Kroda sees its destiny is to unite the continent through the Sword and the Word.Although it is a land under occupation, life is good for many Ossians. The Krodans keep the bandits in check and the roads maintained. For young Aren, an Ossian noble son born into happy fortune, he sees his nation's destiny is in alliance with Kroda. That dream dies when he is betrayed by the empire he believes in. Left to rot in a prison camp, he is given an opportunity to strike back against his enemies...and help reclaim the Ember Blade.Chris Wooding has been one of science fiction and fantasy's most interesting and restless voices for a long time now, moving from writing cracking YA reads to mature, thoughtful works of science fantasy like The Fade. His work in adult fantasy is mostly contained in the excellent Braided Path series, rooted in Asian mythology and influences, and the rollicking Tales of the Ketty Jay, a dieselpunk saga of airships, fighters, rampaging titans, surly cats and heroes whose buckles are, indeed, swashed.The Darkwater Legacy is Wooding's back-to-basics take on the traditional fantasy saga (even the title feels like it was copyrighted in 1985). Ossia is a land under the grip of a cruel empire, a heroic band of freedom fighters are trying to save the day and a young man finds himself touched by destiny. It's like David Eddings, Margaret Weis, Tracey Hickman and Terry Brooks had a brainstorming session over a power lunch. If they did, though, then Wooding stole their notes, drank their beer and set about skewing everything slightly away from the way you think it's going to go.The Ember Blade introduces us to Aren, the son of an Ossian noble who thinks himself destined for great things, unable to accept that his blood means that he will never be taken seriously by the Krodans. His best friend is Cade, a carpenter's son. They are separated by class and their feelings about the Krodan invaders, but they are soon bound together by profound misfortune. Along the way they meet up with a highly dubious warrior, thief and scoundrel, Grub the Skarl (master of the boastful non-sequitur), and a bunch of rebels led by the enigmatic "Hollow Man", before they find themselves on the run from supernatural trackers and gradually realise more is going on than it first appears. So far, so Lord of the Rings meets The Eye of the World. When our characters join forces with a druidess searching for a hero who is the fulfilment of prophecy and reach Skavenhald, a terrible ruin inhabited by a profound supernatural evil (Moria by way of Shadar Logoth, with a name that nods at Warhammer), you may be trying to keep your eyes from rolling. Wooding writes with skill but there's the feeling that maybe the traditional fantasy archetypes are being assembled a bit too familiarly here, as if assembled from an IKEA flatpack.But then things get a lot more interesting. Skavenhald is weird and a distinctly Lovecraftian tone creeps in as screeching horrible things from other realms threaten to break through the skein of reality. It's more Dark Souls than Balrog Retirement Village, and all the better for it. After this the book becomes more engrossing as Wooding strips back the psychology of his characters, revealing them to be less the Fellowship of the Ring and more the Companions of Utter Dysfunction. One late-emerging main character is fascinating, a middle-aged teacher and patriot whose ruthlessness and resourcefulness dwarfs that of almost any of the other characters. The story takes several extremely unexpected swings (complete with a few shocking dispatches of characters you thought were around for the duration) before we reach the appropriately epic conclusion and the inevitably-frustrating wait for Book 2.The Ember Blade is Wooding's longest novel to date - just under 800 pages in tradeback - but has more story in it than most entire trilogies. We have a prison break narrative, a horror story, a war story and an urban fantasy adventure. There's pirates, wolves, dodgy Viking warriors and some discomforting WWII allegories. One sequence feels like it's come out of Moby Dick, another out of Baldur's Gate. Wooding has had a frankly unseemly amount of fun in assembling his Big Fat Fantasy Saga and is keen to share that with the reader. The pages rattle by, the worldbuilding becomes more well-rounded and intriguing and the characters never stop growing and changing. It would be easy to condemn the author for writing "just" another throwback fantasy here, but it's also easy to forget that writing a good epic fantasy is still very difficult, and Wooding does it with aplomb.The Ember Blade (****½) is great fun, a classic epic fantasy which, after a perhaps slightly too-traditional opening, avoids becoming too predictable. The characters are memorable and charismatic, but also flawed, with their darker moments that give them more edge than the one-note heroes of yesteryear. The tone is light and fun to start with, but matures throughout, with a few moments of real darkness at the end as things get real. The novel will be published on 20 September 2018 in the UK (and will be available on import in the USA).
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  • Iryna (Book and Sword)
    January 1, 1970
    Alright, this beast is 778 pages (yikessss) but look at that cover (I don’t judge ALL books just by their covers, I promise). The premise sounds great and it was recommended to me by Petrik whom I trust, so on the never ending TBR it goes!My WEBSITEMy INSTAGRAMMy WORDPRESS BLOG
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  • Tam
    January 1, 1970
    The Ember Blade was a really good book. It follows the story of Aren and his friend Cade as their lives are turned upside down and inside out. Thrown in prison for treason and then tangled up in a revolution, everything changes rapidly. One of the best things about this book was how the characters developed and changed over the course of the book. Minds, opinions, and beliefs all altered as the characters experienced the world.It does start off with a somewhat standard epic fantasy plotline, a b The Ember Blade was a really good book. It follows the story of Aren and his friend Cade as their lives are turned upside down and inside out. Thrown in prison for treason and then tangled up in a revolution, everything changes rapidly. One of the best things about this book was how the characters developed and changed over the course of the book. Minds, opinions, and beliefs all altered as the characters experienced the world.It does start off with a somewhat standard epic fantasy plotline, a boy—missing a parent or two—is thrust into some situation where his life and belief systems are turned on their head. A prophecy happens, and there’s a magical item of great importance—the Ember Blade. It has a fair few of the very standard classical epic fantasy tropes, and the length you would commonly associate with those books. It was really, really, really long, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.At times I found the plot to be a bit formulaic, and there was a particular tic that could be frustrating at times. In order to draw out the tension, Wooding changes to a different point of view at tense moments when it feels like something big is about to happen. Normally the POV of an antagonist. It draws out the tension a bit and keeps you reading, but can be frustrating when you just want to know what’s about to happen. It does, however, show the motivations of the antagonists and why they’re doing what they’re doing. It definitely helps to humanise them and make the conflict more interesting.Wooding creates a tale that is a mix between classical epic fantasy and modern darker fantasy. The tale of a nation under occupation. The struggles of those who’re losing their culture, who’re oppressed, struggling under occupation. It’s very much a novel about the characters and how they deal with their own struggles and the struggles of their nation.Overall, I really enjoyed The Ember Blade and would recommend it to people who like:* Character focused books* Epic Fantasy* Awesome battles* Door Stoppers
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  • Silvana
    January 1, 1970
    I fell in love with Chris Wooding's writing because of his extremely fun steampunky series, Tales of the Ketty Jay. I love all the main characters, their quirks, their badassery, their shortcomings, warts and all. And most of all, I like the camaraderie of these misfits. The sad parts also shook me to the core. Hell, I even had one of my favorite fantasy 'ships in it.Ergo, I had such high expectation when I started reading The Ember Blade, thinking I'd get the same quirky, memorable, fun, gut-wr I fell in love with Chris Wooding's writing because of his extremely fun steampunky series, Tales of the Ketty Jay. I love all the main characters, their quirks, their badassery, their shortcomings, warts and all. And most of all, I like the camaraderie of these misfits. The sad parts also shook me to the core. Hell, I even had one of my favorite fantasy 'ships in it.Ergo, I had such high expectation when I started reading The Ember Blade, thinking I'd get the same quirky, memorable, fun, gut-wrenching fantasy. I did not. The Ember Blade is apparently a more traditional take of fantasy, one of those epic tales of young boys uprooted from their hometowns to embark in a grand adventure, involving a Ring, nope, Blade of Power. Yeah, I know what you're thinking.It turned out not that bad. The world building was quite good, it has a strong theme of colonization of this Nazi-German-like empire and the political & societal impact to their conquered neighbors. I am a sucker of rebellion story and this one fits me. I also liked most of the female characters especially the druidess with kickass magic and her dog companion. Nevertheless, I did not feel any connection to the main characters and the plots bored me. The lengthy travelogue, angsty YA outbursts spiced with a love triangle, and the ever-increasing number of their fellowship (they reached number nine at some point) did not help at all. I just did not care of what happened next. Except to the druidess and her dog. Why can't this book just about them?Overall, the book is perfect for those in favor of traditional fantasy, coming-of-age tales, the staples of the genre. I am sure many of my friends here will enjoy it. Anyway, I have still three Wooding books to read after this. They're YA/middle grade so I'll be better prepared.Thank you @Gollancz and @orionbooks for the review opportunity.
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  • Tom Lloyd
    January 1, 1970
    Immensely readable, classic epic fantasy. The Ember Blade is a big book, there’s no getting around that, but like the Name of the Wind you’ll be surprised just how fast the chapters fly past. There’s nothing startling about the setup, but if like me you often want a fix of classic fantasy elements done very well, this fits the bill beautifully. And of course this wasn’t written in the 80s so it’s got the more shades-of-grey side that characterises most modern fantasy. This isn’t grimdark but it’ Immensely readable, classic epic fantasy. The Ember Blade is a big book, there’s no getting around that, but like the Name of the Wind you’ll be surprised just how fast the chapters fly past. There’s nothing startling about the setup, but if like me you often want a fix of classic fantasy elements done very well, this fits the bill beautifully. And of course this wasn’t written in the 80s so it’s got the more shades-of-grey side that characterises most modern fantasy. This isn’t grimdark but it’s honest about what’s going on, who’s hurt and what’s happening to people. It might be I gloss over that because I don’t see fantasy any other way these days, but maybe it’s worth mentioning still. I’m apparently the only person who didn’t feel Godblind was grimdark but just honestly portrayed epic fantasy… Anyways, the older I get the more picky I become about epic fantasy in particular. Honestly of portrayal is just one thing that’ll lose me, but The Ember Blade offered no problems at all on that front. Instead what I got was just a good story effortlessly told by a star author, in the vein of my preferred comfort reading genre.The stand-out part is the characters and the deft way they’ve been drawn. Aren and Cade at the central figures and get the most page time, but the found-family they find themselves in aren’t just cut-out background figures and the variety of personalities is neatly balanced. Some get a modest amount to show themselves in, naturally, but these spare strokes still contribute to a fine picture. None of them are perfect, none of them are awful or overly flawed – even the principle “bad guy” has clear and rational motivations. He’s no frothing fanatic and his actions might be terrible, or at least contribute to a brutal regime, his family is foremost in his thoughts. Often I find myself struggling with a character being forced in their bad decisions etc, something that feels far too much in service of the plot’s needs, but Wooding sells the reader on every choice – there’s groundwork laid out and even when they do something terrible, you know why they have. It’s a change of pace from the other Wooding books I’ve read and perhaps there is the source of my only slight reservation. For the Ketty Jay books he was clearly having a blast, doing exactly what he wanted in a rather more irreverent way. It would sound far too dismissive to describe this as just a professional doing a good job, but I didn’t quite get the same sense of fun. It almost felt like he was more respectful of the conventions than he would have liked, just a bit more contained. But I may be too old and jaded to represent the target market for this, so I’ll content myself with hoping he really lets rip in book 2.
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  • Benjamin
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by Orion Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.This book has the cover for a perfect fantasy novel.
  • Edward Cox
    January 1, 1970
    Epic fantasy at its best. Wooding delivers yet another story of adventure, magic and mystery, set on a world of intrigue and wonder. A real page-turner not to be missed. Check it!
  • Liviu
    January 1, 1970
    Extremely disappointing; started decent but then it really became another cliched high fantasy with nothing from what I liked from the author's earlier books (wit, interesting characters and setting); flipped through it and read here and there and the last 40 or so pages just in case something changed and then put it aside as my time is worth more than reading this junk
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  • Connie
    January 1, 1970
    Having read The Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding I couldn't wait to read The Ember Blade. It's an epic fantasy that has an old school vibe to it. It's fast paced, action packed with lots of twists and turns - I forgot to breathe on more than one occasion. I loved the characters and look forward to catching up with them in the next adventure.
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  • Alyssa
    January 1, 1970
    "Designed to return to classic fantasy adventures and values"....Literally all that's needed to get me on board with a new Fantasy novel.
  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    The Krodan Empire has occupied Ossia for decades. The native people have been forced to accept the outsider’s rule, or suffer swift and often violent retribution. There are few, however, who refuse to believe that their country is lost. They seek a symbol that will act as a rallying call to all of Ossia. Can a legendary sword, the Ember Blade, be used to free a nation from its captors?Aren and Cade live in the small coastal town of Shoal Point. They have never known anything other than Krodan re The Krodan Empire has occupied Ossia for decades. The native people have been forced to accept the outsider’s rule, or suffer swift and often violent retribution. There are few, however, who refuse to believe that their country is lost. They seek a symbol that will act as a rallying call to all of Ossia. Can a legendary sword, the Ember Blade, be used to free a nation from its captors?Aren and Cade live in the small coastal town of Shoal Point. They have never known anything other than Krodan regime. Aren is the son of a merchant, well-educated and, for an Ossian, quite well off. Cade is a carpenter’s son. Though opposites, the two have been firm friends from a young age. Aren is the thinker while Cade is more demonstrative. Aren makes plans and is prone to introspection, while Cade is impulsive and outgoing. They complement one another perfectly.When Aren suffers a family tragedy, the two young friends are forced to leave their old lives behind. They are drawn into a desperate plan that will decide not only the fate of nations, but of humanity as a whole.Aren and Cade meet a whole host of characters on their journey. The Ember Blade is a true ensemble piece. When it came to the characterisation, I was reminded of vintage David Eddings. There is a gruff warrior who is about as secretive as you can get, a straight-laced honour-bound knight, a mystical (and often enigmatic) druid, a talented bard and a highly skilled ranger. All pretty standard fantasy fare, but Wooding executes each character flawlessly. I was able to picture each of them easily thanks to the evocative writing. My personal favourite was a self-absorbed, heavily tattooed thief called Grub. Crude and totally lacking anything close to subtly, it is quite clear that in his own mind Grub is the hero of the adventure. Makes sense, he comes from a culture where mighty deeds denote standing. The more ink he has, the more heroic feats he has accomplished. Grub’s character could easily have been two dimensional, but Wooding makes him far more intriguing than that. Grub is a little bit sleazy and wonderfully ill-mannered. He also talks about himself constantly in the third person, a clear sign of an over inflated ego. Needless to say, I warmed to him immediately. The author has real skill when it comes to making his characters memorable.The Ember Blade is epic fantasy with capital E. The story explores the politics of occupation at ground level. Aren and Cade are thrust into a plot that is bubbling over with revolution and insurrection. Ossia has been under the yoke of its tyrannical neighbour for too long. The country is a powder keg that just needs one single act of defiance to awake a sleeping giant*. It makes The Ember Blade quite the immersive experience. I got so caught up in the relentless action, the writing even managed me to make me exclaim out loud “Oh no!” after reading one of the more dramatic scenes. I should stress that very rarely happens. I think the author deserves additional credit for this achievement. If you like your fantasy on a grand scale, then I can guarantee The Ember Blade is the novel for you.One thing, there is no getting around the fact that The Ember Blade is an enormous book. Goodreads tells me it clocks in at approximately eight hundred pages long. There are one hundred and eight chapters for goodness sake! I’m fortunate, I was lucky enough to read an electronic copy. Those not wishing to suffer a potential wrist injury may wish to pursue this option if possible. I’m sorry that the rest of you are going to end up with forearms like Popeye.The Ember Blade is published on 20th September by Gollancz. I’m looking forward to book two in The Darkwater Legacy already. Book one was an absolute blinder. Highly recommended.*Not a literal giant, a metaphorical one. Just wanted to clarify, it is a fantasy novel after all. Who knows, perhaps there will be actual giants in book two?
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  • Calvin Park
    January 1, 1970
    The Ember Blade is an ode to classic fantasy stories with a dash of spice from newer grimdark stories. Chris Wooding has crafted a story set in a bleak world that is equal parts quest and coming-of-age tropes, with a bit of the ever-popular heist trope thrown in. It’s a story that will appeal to many fans of fantasy, though it didn’t entirely work for me. Chris Wooding has given us a true tome of a novel. The Ember Blade clocks in at around 800 pages. At some level this tale is about oppression The Ember Blade is an ode to classic fantasy stories with a dash of spice from newer grimdark stories. Chris Wooding has crafted a story set in a bleak world that is equal parts quest and coming-of-age tropes, with a bit of the ever-popular heist trope thrown in. It’s a story that will appeal to many fans of fantasy, though it didn’t entirely work for me. Chris Wooding has given us a true tome of a novel. The Ember Blade clocks in at around 800 pages. At some level this tale is about oppression and friendship and loyalty. Wooding doesn’t shy away from complex themes. He’s also given us some very deep world building. There is a great deal of history to this world—much of it a history of oppression and pain. I would have enjoyed learning even more of the history of Ossia, though I’m sure plenty will be revealed in subsequent books. There are also some very cool moments in this story, from an escape from what amounts to a haunted castle to several intense fight sequences. There are a number of scenes that really grip you and force you to keep reading. Unfortunately, those scenes are about the only thing that did grip me. For much of the book I found myself plodding, not particularly interested in reading. This changed towards the end—and I think the final twenty percent of the book is truly excellent. To me, it felt like this novel wasn’t quite sure whether it wanted to be a coming-of-age story, a story about a party on a quest, or a heist story wrapped in a revolution. I just never felt like those elements were able to blend seamlessly together. It probably didn’t help that I didn’t connect with any of the characters. I have to be quick to point out, however, that I’m the minority opinion here. It’s been difficult to gather my thoughts and put them on paper because of that. Many other reviewers that I tend to share similar tastes with have really enjoyed this one. For me, it never quite worked. I hate that because this is exactly the type of book I typically love and would love to see publishers take risks on. Unfortunately, this one just didn’t work for me. Your mileage may vary, though.If you enjoy coming-of-age stories with deeply flawed characters (abusive hero, deadbeat dad, naïve and arrogant teen), coupled with stories of revolution set in a deeply imagined world with a sizeable word count—then go check out some other reviews of The Ember Blade. This one didn’t work for me, but I feel like that may have more to do with me than the book itself. 3/5 stars.5 – I loved this, couldn’t put it down, move it to the top of your TBR pile4 – I really enjoyed this, add it to the TBR pile3 – I liked it, depending on your preferences it may be worth your time2 – I didn’t like this book, it has significant flaws and I can’t recommend it 1 – I loathe this book with a most loathsome loathing
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  • Dawn
    January 1, 1970
    Happy to receive this as a galley from the publishers via netgalley. A story of a legendary sword and a country forced to accept the doctrines of another country that has tried to obliterate their society’s religion and culture. A recipe for bloodshed and revolution. Aren is from a privileged background and Cade who is from a more impoverish life are fast friends. The two friends find themselves incarcerated and forced to work in a mine after the execution of Aren’s father.. Aren begins to see w Happy to receive this as a galley from the publishers via netgalley. A story of a legendary sword and a country forced to accept the doctrines of another country that has tried to obliterate their society’s religion and culture. A recipe for bloodshed and revolution. Aren is from a privileged background and Cade who is from a more impoverish life are fast friends. The two friends find themselves incarcerated and forced to work in a mine after the execution of Aren’s father.. Aren begins to see what Cade has known all of his life that the occupiers believe if you are not one of them, noble family or not you are worthless.Aren doesn’t know what to believe anymore. The two friends escape from the prison compound and are forced to bring with them the abominable Grub whom they would rather have left behind. The escape seems to be rather like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. We are gradually introduced to other characters some good and some decidedly evil. Lies deceit and revenge loom on the horizon leaving Aren unsure who to trust or what to believe is true. Followed by dark forces Aren is convinced that the only course is for him and his companions to at least attempt to retrieve the legendary Ember Blade which is the symbol of his country and would unite his people in an effort to oust the invaders. A diverse collection of characters which interact well and excellent worldbuilding. Having read previous novels by Chris Wooding which I enjoyed immensely I feel this is written in a slightly different style. It is not written from one point of view but from several. What seems as the usual plot line of a country under occupation , a legendary sword and a fight for freedom is given life and pace. Looking forward to more of the same.
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    I've been a fan of Chris’s previous work for a long while – from The Fade (2007) to his steampunk/bucklepunk series of the Ketty Jay trilogy (2009 – 2013), there’s been a lot I’ve liked.After a science-fictional YA trilogy, this is Chris’s return to more traditional Fantasy fare – his first since The Braided Path series (2003 – 2005) – and there’s a lot for Fantasy fans to like.But there’s a big caveat to begin with.The story begins on very traditional ground.I must admit that I did wonder wheth I've been a fan of Chris’s previous work for a long while – from The Fade (2007) to his steampunk/bucklepunk series of the Ketty Jay trilogy (2009 – 2013), there’s been a lot I’ve liked.After a science-fictional YA trilogy, this is Chris’s return to more traditional Fantasy fare – his first since The Braided Path series (2003 – 2005) – and there’s a lot for Fantasy fans to like.But there’s a big caveat to begin with.The story begins on very traditional ground.I must admit that I did wonder whether I was going to last the distance when I started reading The Ember Blade. Though undeniably well-written, the initial set up felt like typically Tolkien-esque fare. So much of it was similar to things I’ve read many, many times before.Even fairly new fans of fantasy are going to recognise similarities between this and other work. Aren could be Frodo, with loyal Cade his Sam. Like many other plots, there’s a quest, but this time for a legendary sword, the Ember Blade, not a ring, where the heroes and heroines of our story have to get the sword. As the story develops we meet others that seem familiar - rebel leader Garrick could be Aragorn, a fighter with a secret past, and there’s a degree of mystical flim-flam with Vika-Who-Walks-the Barrows, a druidess with connections to ‘the old ways’…. a female Gandalf, albeit with a loveable and faithful canine companion. Grub is a rough ill-mannered character that kept making me think of Shrek, though perhaps less green.For the bad guys, the key antagonist, Klyssen, feels like he’s wandered in from Raiders of the Lost Ark, with the addition of an evil side-kick who has personal ambition and a lust for punishment rather than justice. Their minions, the Black Riders of the story, are the dreadknights, who chase our heroes in the hope of capturing them and no doubt doing evil things. (There’s a torture scene at the beginning to emphasise how bad the evil guys are.) They are nasty, but nothing we’ve not seen before.It further doesn’t help that, moving away from the archetype characters, there’s a number of set pieces that reminded me of other books – a flight through the vast house of Skavengard brought back thoughts of the mines of Moria, for example, albeit a bit less dark. There’s battles across bridges, dashes through passageways, struggles in water and fights on dining tables, all of which are done well, but…. nothing new.By about a third of way in (c. 250 pages) I was struggling, so disappointed that I was seriously considering dropping the book for something more… unique.  I felt that I had read something like it before, lots of times.Of course, what Chris is doing here is settling readers in quickly and making the reader feel comfortable by focussing on standard characters and settings. Because they are recognisable, there is little time needed getting the reader to work out who they are, what is going on and where. There’s no mistaking that there’s a pace and drive, but managed by following a familiar path.Once the reader is pretty much resigned into expecting the expected, about half-way through the book - remember, this is after about 400 pages - there’s an abrupt left-turn. Where Tolkien’s story moved from the bucolic rural environment of The Shire to etherial Lothlorien and then the extremes in the mountains of Mordor, here Aren, Cade and the rest of our heroes and heroines have escaped to the Ossian city of Morgenholme, where The Ember Blade is expected to be, and we meet new characters in a new environment. We now feel that we’re into an urban environment, with dark, dirty streets, poverty, disease and original inventions.And we’re also privy to the real purpose of the story: to obtain The Ember Blade before it is given, in an act of subjugation, to the Krodans. The last part of the book is a heist story, with the eclectic group attempting to get The Ember Blade from the hands of the Krodans and generate a revolution amongst the oppressed Ossians.The good news is that this last part of the book is on firmer ground. I was pleased that at times our assumptions, used to delimit our original caricatures, suddenly become more complicated. Some of the bad guys are not as bad as we first thought and some of our heroes are given greater depth and a more complicated aspect. The story eventually becomes, in places, something richer, more complex and more gripping. By the end, it is actually an exciting read. Although there is a now-typical cliff-hanger ending, there is enough resolution to make the reader feel that the journey (so far) has been worth it.And yet….Chris is clearly a skilful writer, and there’s clearly been a lot of work in putting this together. Any reader wanting the challenge of a big Fat Fantasy will relish such a read and realise from the beginning that The Ember Blade is a story for the long haul. It must be said that by the end I felt that it is an immersive experience, if you give it time to develop. If that is what you want, then this is a satisfying read, building from traditional tropes into a series of set pieces that read well, although not always working well together.In summary, I’m pleased to have spent time reading The Ember Blade, but in the end I can’t help feeling a little underwhelmed. It’s good, but I have to say that it didn’t wow me as much as say, the complexity of The Fade or the energy of The Ketty Jay series did. It seems to be determined to be more like older style Fantasy books – more Raymond Feist’s Magician, than say, Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade itself, although The Ember Blade  is quite messy in places.The problem with it is that as much as I appreciate a Fantasy novel that is determined to be old-school and not Grimdark, it also has to bring a little of something new to the table as well for today’s demanding readers. Trying to do this by writing a big fat Fantasy is admirable but not entirely successful here. Length does not always equal depth, and this may also be the problem. I think that there’s much that you could remove here and make it a tighter, possibly better, novel. As much as I’d like to say different, I’m not sure this book ticks all the boxes, though the last part shows the reader what could be done. If you can stick with it until the end, it’s an enjoyable read.
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  • N Islam
    January 1, 1970
    4 solid stars.I always have trouble writing a review about fantasy books. My thoughts are always a mess, and in trying to collect them, I often forget some of the things about these books that make them so good. The Ember blade is less of a story about fantasy and empires and more about the personal lives of certain people and how their story fits into the larger narrative; there is a lot that is familiar with other fantasy titles.The closest story to that of the Ember blade is the Wheel of Time 4 solid stars.I always have trouble writing a review about fantasy books. My thoughts are always a mess, and in trying to collect them, I often forget some of the things about these books that make them so good. The Ember blade is less of a story about fantasy and empires and more about the personal lives of certain people and how their story fits into the larger narrative; there is a lot that is familiar with other fantasy titles.The closest story to that of the Ember blade is the Wheel of Time (The Eye of the World). There are definitely parallels between Aaron and Rand Al Thor. However, where the two stories diverge is in the importance that each of the characters in the cast gets, as well as the meticulously crafted dialogue that appears in the story. There is real loss in this book, and before you get apprehensive, no this is not a grim-dark fantasy book (thank goodness).The book shares a lot when it comes to the overall setting with TWoT. However, the great thing about this particular series is that it takes the best parts of the larger epics of fantasy and combines them with good story writing to form an amalgam of a fleshed out world; one that is still being explored. There are times when you really wonder what the characters are going to do, since their mettle as well a their morals are tested. There are also times when the familiarity of a traveling troupe of frenemies feels like a welcome adoption of other successful epic fantasy novels. There are times when you really hate the characters in the story, and when the twists and turns are revealed, you being to realize how human they truly are because of their flaws.There are also moments of real growth, after all we are dealing with a bunch of teenage adolescent boys and they learn to lean on each other and grow to be the kind of people that they want to be and need to be. The songs as well as some of the stories in the books that tell of kings and their counselors are wonderfully told, and remind me of the songs from Red Rising that really crystallize the essence of what the main protagonists are struggling for.I would strongly recommend this book to any lover of fantasy, and definitely one who loves a good hero's journey tale. The only reason I did not give this book 5 stars is because the magic system is really not well fleshed out, and there is really not a lot of magic in here. I hope that the author remedies this in upcoming books that I will happily read as soon as they come out.
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  • Liesl
    January 1, 1970
    I had dangerously high expectations when I started reading this book. Chris Wooding is one of my favourite writers, I have a major soft spot for anything influenced by Arthurian legend, and it's been an age since I've read a good old-fashioned epic fantasy that's really caught my imagination. "The Ember Blade" exceeded my expectations.There's all the aspects you'd expect from a traditional old school fantasy, a rag-tag group of disparate people on a quest, who you become attached to very quickly I had dangerously high expectations when I started reading this book. Chris Wooding is one of my favourite writers, I have a major soft spot for anything influenced by Arthurian legend, and it's been an age since I've read a good old-fashioned epic fantasy that's really caught my imagination. "The Ember Blade" exceeded my expectations.There's all the aspects you'd expect from a traditional old school fantasy, a rag-tag group of disparate people on a quest, who you become attached to very quickly. All the worse as Chris Wooding is definitely not afraid to kill his darlings: at least two of the deaths were really upsetting because you thought they were safe, but then something came to stop their plans, and there's a rather gnarly suicide scene. But it's the innovations which really captured my imagination: the moments focusing on the Krotan bad guys and humanizing them added a lot to the story; the skarl culture of deeds being tattooed onto their skin so their stories are not forgotten in death; the upsetting subtext of what seems to be happening to the Sards as the Ossians fight for freedom. Yeah, swapping character viewpoints a lot makes the story go slower in places, but I found those alternate viewpoints added to the emotion in certain scenes and it made me care a lot about all the characters, because I'd got to know all of them well.This isn't just a fantasy quest novel, though it definitely delivers in that region (one sequence in particular definitely put me in mind of the mines of Moria). This is the story of rebellion. All the little nods and explorations into what it is like living under an occupied regime are just brilliant, so I especially enjoyed Mara and Aran's character development for those reasons. I can't wait for the next book in the trilogy!Thank you Netgalley for giving me an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Mike Morris
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. What can I say but this book is amazing! It's old school fantasy in the best possible way. It's certainly not grimdark. Instead it shines with hope and heroes and a hell of a lot of fun. It has a great Mission Impossible feel to it as the story drives its way relentlessly to the end. It's a massive book but it doesn't drag and i found myself looking fro every opportunity to read another chapter. Highly highly recommended
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    ARC copy provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own3.5/5 The Ember Blade is a very ambitious novel and that is both a good and a bad thing. It is trying to be an epic fantasy novel in the vein of Tolkien and it does have a retro feel when viewed alongside more contemporary fantasy novels, which feels strange and refreshing at the same time. The plot is very simple: it’s an adventure story at its heart. It’s about a young man coming of age, realising the world is not all that it seems and joi ARC copy provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own3.5/5 The Ember Blade is a very ambitious novel and that is both a good and a bad thing. It is trying to be an epic fantasy novel in the vein of Tolkien and it does have a retro feel when viewed alongside more contemporary fantasy novels, which feels strange and refreshing at the same time. The plot is very simple: it’s an adventure story at its heart. It’s about a young man coming of age, realising the world is not all that it seems and joining a gang of rebellious men and women who want to change the world. It’s simple yet effective.The two main strengths of The Ember Blade are its characters and its world building. Aren is a good protagonist and Wooding takes his time to introduce him and allows the reader to get to know him before the plot kicks off. He also does this with Cade, Aren’s best friend. This makes both characters incredibly sympathetic as their worlds are torn apart and Aren realises that his entire upbringing has been a lie. Of all the characters, Aren is my favourite. He undergoes so much in the first hundred pages that I found myself bonding with him quite quickly. Aren was born to an Ossian but raised a Krodan after his father “sold out” so to speak and accepted Krodan rule. The journey Aren goes though is the heart of the story and he was the most likeable character. As for the others, most of them were also enjoyable and, if not completely likeable, interesting. Vika, a druidess, was a very intriguing character, mysterious and fascinating. The members of Garric’s gang were also well written and I especially liked the insight into Keel’s family life. The only character I wasn’t overly fond of was Garric. His pig headed insistence that Aren was somehow responsible for what happened with Garric and Aren’s father was really annoying to me for quite a lot of the book. The other characters kept saying how honourable he was but his treatment of Aren was anything but. Also, Garric is the epitome of honour before reason which is what gets them into a lot of trouble in the first place. He does improve later in the books once you find out his backstory but I still didn’t like his attitude early on in the novel. On the whole, though, the characters were well written, well realised and felt realistic. The world building is the other aspect of The Ember Blade that I really enjoyed. Wooding has created a very rich world with a deep back story and a huge vein of discontent. I will be the first to admit that I love a story where a revolution is brewing and this is what drew me to this story. I like reading about how the Krodan invaders subjugated the Ossians and how they have treated them over the last thirty years. There has obviously been a lot of thought put into he creation of this world. I loved that aspect of the story.The thing that surprised me most about The Ember Blade was the length. I was not expecting it to be so long and, in some ways, that works to its detriment. I can see what Wooding was trying to do, he wanted to write something epic in the vein of Tolkien but there were too many parts of this book that felt fillerish. Scenes go on far too long and they don’t feel like that they add anything to the overall story. At over 700 pages, it is simply too long. It would have been better to have been a shorter story and concentrated more on the quest rather than padding out the page count with overly long filler scenes. It starts very well and from page 500 onwards, I was absolutely hooked and didn’t want to put it down once the pace picked up; it is just the middle section that could have used trimming down. If The Ember Blade had been a couple of hundred pages shorter then it would have been an excellent read rather than just a good one.On the whole, I enjoyed most of The Ember Blade. The characters were well realised and the story was an interesting concept. The execution of the novel, however, was not perfect. It was too long and the pacing was sometimes a little off. I did enjoy the plot, though, and it ends in a way that makes me want to keep reading what happens next.
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  • Dan
    January 1, 1970
    A young hero emerging into adulthood, a band of plucky adventurers uniting against an oppressive Empire, a talismanic weapon, an enormous page count....Chris Wooding's latest is a throwback to the classic fantasy I devoured in the 80s, your Belgariads and your Riftwars. But that's not to say it's deaf to the changes in the genre since then. There's an element of grimdark fierceness and a willingness to embrace shades of grey rather than a straightahead good/evil divide, but at its core this is g A young hero emerging into adulthood, a band of plucky adventurers uniting against an oppressive Empire, a talismanic weapon, an enormous page count....Chris Wooding's latest is a throwback to the classic fantasy I devoured in the 80s, your Belgariads and your Riftwars. But that's not to say it's deaf to the changes in the genre since then. There's an element of grimdark fierceness and a willingness to embrace shades of grey rather than a straightahead good/evil divide, but at its core this is good old fashioned epic fantasy. It's not difficult to spot the influences and antecedents (one lengthy scene is almost a rewrite of Moria), but Wooding makes it work with energy and brio, and his story is engaging and engrossing. It's a big book that doesn't feel like a big book, and it makes for great comfort reading. It's not challenging or groundbreaking, but it is a lot of fun. (I am docking it a star for being too eager to use the woman as nagging shrew trope, mind you. We can do better than that these days)
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  • Bluefly
    January 1, 1970
    Ho provato due volte a riprenderne la lettura ma non funziona. Mi annoio. Personaggi poco interessanti, una vicenda che manca di ritmo, una narrazione troppo plot-driven, che trascina eccessivamente certe situazioni forse per allungare il brodo, non mi fanno apprezzare questo romanzo, che però vedo essere ben accolto. Generalmente amo l'epic fantasy perché con i suoi tomoni mi garantisce un adeguato e meticoloso worldbuilding e un'approfondita caratterizzazione dei personaggi. Qui non ho trovato Ho provato due volte a riprenderne la lettura ma non funziona. Mi annoio. Personaggi poco interessanti, una vicenda che manca di ritmo, una narrazione troppo plot-driven, che trascina eccessivamente certe situazioni forse per allungare il brodo, non mi fanno apprezzare questo romanzo, che però vedo essere ben accolto. Generalmente amo l'epic fantasy perché con i suoi tomoni mi garantisce un adeguato e meticoloso worldbuilding e un'approfondita caratterizzazione dei personaggi. Qui non ho trovato nulla di tutto ciò. Riesce a essere un romanzo piuttosto superficiale, soprattutto nell'interazione dei protagonisti, pur essendo lunghissimo. Vi sono autori che riescono a rendere i loro personaggi così vividamente che ti sembra di conoscerli e quando finisci il libro ne senti la mancanza (da qui la bellezza della serialità). Questi li ho salutati senza una lacrima e nemmeno un rimpianto. Peccato.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    20 stars!!!!This story is AMAZING and utterly unlike anything that appears in the Ketty Jay series. EVERYTHING the avid fantasyholic could wish for is in this story!!! Friendship, loyalty, devastating events, the rekindling of hope, high suspense akin to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, elements of a Nazi-type occupation (including Polish-style ghettos, Josef Mengele style 'medical research' and the forced removal/disappearance of a whole sector of the Ossian population) and an unexpectedly shocking be 20 stars!!!!This story is AMAZING and utterly unlike anything that appears in the Ketty Jay series. EVERYTHING the avid fantasyholic could wish for is in this story!!! Friendship, loyalty, devastating events, the rekindling of hope, high suspense akin to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, elements of a Nazi-type occupation (including Polish-style ghettos, Josef Mengele style 'medical research' and the forced removal/disappearance of a whole sector of the Ossian population) and an unexpectedly shocking betrayal that sucker-punches the reader. The characters are flawed, they are impulsive and make mistakes with some horrendous consequences.The narrative is utterly absorbing, and there were moments where I had to remember to breathe. At nearly 800 pages, this makes for an excellent start to a very promising series.
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  • Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    I can't form words for this right now. All I can say is amazing! The plot and worldbuilding are excellent,but it is Wooding's characterisations that really make this story shine. I'll try and articulate what this book is about later, and what I really loved about it. But for now I can tell you this was a truly outstanding read!The cover and description really undersell it. Do not be deceived by the simple (in fantasy terms) plot. This book has serious depth and complexity and I do believe it wil I can't form words for this right now. All I can say is amazing! The plot and worldbuilding are excellent,but it is Wooding's characterisations that really make this story shine. I'll try and articulate what this book is about later, and what I really loved about it. But for now I can tell you this was a truly outstanding read!The cover and description really undersell it. Do not be deceived by the simple (in fantasy terms) plot. This book has serious depth and complexity and I do believe it will become a classic in the future. I cant wait to see where the author takes the story in book 2!
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  • Deborah
    January 1, 1970
    I was determined to finish this book, hoping it would improve, but it didn't. The characters were poorly written and developed, the story was one I have read before, and the other times it was better written. Pretty disappointing.
  • Scott Bell
    January 1, 1970
    Yes, we've read the plot before. Yes, we've seen the tropes before. But...Wooding's narrative style and deft touch make this very readable and very enjoyable.
  • Aaaatomik
    January 1, 1970
    (Spoilers) Don't get it, if they knew that Arun's father was their most valuable collaborator and was on their side, then why they accused him of being a traitor and killed him.
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