Inspired by the rising chaos in Sheng Fan, Xu Liang, mystic and officer of the Imperial Court, leaves his homeland for the barbarian outer lands in search of four magical blades to unite with two sacred weapons already in the possession of the Empire.
His plan is to bring all of the blades together and return them to Sheng Fan's Empress as a symbol of unity that will bolster the people’s faith in the Imperial family and assist against the surge of dark forces. Complicating his plan is not the finding of the blades, but finding them with bearers - foreigners who have no intention of parting with them and less intention of serving an Empire they’ve scarcely heard of.
It becomes Xu Liang’s task to ally himself with these barbarians of the outer realms and unite them with his cause, as well as with one another.
Only the complete reunion of all six blades and their fated bearers can stand against chaos, rising like a dragon from slumber beneath the foundation of a nation unprepared.
This was an interesting book to listen to, but it’s difficult to review. There are a lot of things that it did right, but a few things that I really didn’t like. To start with what I liked. The opening setting gave an east Asian fantasy feel and had a great original concept. The author is an excellent wordsmith, who is great at describing the scenery and what’s going on. I also really enjoyed watching a diverse group of characters come together for a common goal. There was good character growth, and I enjoyed the flashbacks to show some of the character’s history. It was an interesting use of switching between first person and third person points of view as well, and the author did it in a way that I never got confused or lost as to what was going on.
Now, on to my few gripes with the book. It doesn’t say anywhere in the synopsis that this was a romance novel. I also checked the Amazon Kindle page, where it shows three genres for the book, and none of those were romance, so, I was completely caught off guard when approximately 70% of the way through the book it became a romance novel. Some of the times it seemed like it could fit the characters, but a couple times it seemed forced, and ultimately it didn’t add anything to the story for me. About that point in the book, I had a little difficulty finishing the story as well, but that’s mostly because I don’t enjoy romance novels.
The narrator did a good job voicing all of the characters, giving them all unique voices that were easy to differentiate. He also used a kind of raspy voice for the general narration that I found unique, and I enjoyed it. However, the narrator liked…. To pause…. In the middle… of sentences. There were quite a few scenes where I didn’t notice it, like in the action scenes, but at times it really broke my sense of immersion.
If this review sounds like what you're looking for, it may be worth it for you to check out this book, but I doubt I’ll be listening to book two.
The publisher gifted me a copy of this book with no expectation of me posting a review. This review is my unbiased opinion.