Brian Staveley's The Providence of Fire, the second novel in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, a gripping new epic fantasy series in the tradition of Brandon Sanderson and George R. R. Martin.
The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.
Having learned the identity of her father's assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, the people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy.
Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, renegade member of the empire's most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.
Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.
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two of the blades are great, one is baffling
Miscommunication driven plot ruined a good story
After the fantastic set up and world building of the first book, I expected better. Even in book one the portrayal of Adare was a tad misogynistic: an overly emotional woman with the self control of a seven year old. Her naïveté was believable then. But in book two it only gets worse. She apparently has virtually no self control in emotional events, and despite being smart and politically savvy enough to be the finance minister has all the character judgement of a rock. And despite having access to the best possible advisor in the world, and life changing events, has experienced zero character development.
Kaden and Valyn are more believable as characters, but with them the story advances solely through miscommunication. Apparently despite spending days or weeks with people they trust, they never get messages like "hey, that guy you want to talk to is an insane fanatic who will want to torture you for days."(Not that these other characters are believable either). Or they utterly fail to be able to express simple ideas to potential allies, such as "I did it all to save the emperor" and "that guy's a blood leech and I bet he's lying." It's all just more than I could handle.
Yes, the protagonists are basically kids, okay. But one of them was supposedly raised on politics at the center of power, but then has all the politics acumen of a white suburban teenager. And acts like a woman from a Dickens novel. The other two either refuse to share basic information for no apparent reason or aren't given critical and brain-dead obvious information except in the most obscure and circumcised terms.
And all of that leaves out the contradictions on fairly basic world building from the first book. For example, Kaden falls out of the vanyate (SP?) at the drop of a hat despite having to force himself out in the first book.
If the characters had been making honest mistakes on the tough choices in front of them, I would have been able to suspend my disbelief. But instead they learn nothing from the past and apparently don't get any information from the people who are supposed to be advising them.
Ponderous, deep, pleasant.
Disappointment. I like the characters, but their behavior doesn't match their personalities and the resulting plot it just not believable.
I was really looking forward to this book, but I couldn't even finish it, and I won't be buying the next one.
- L. Sheldon Clark