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“The Ember Blade” by Chris Wooding Book Review

Book: The Ember Blade

Series: The Darkwater Legacy Book #1

Author: Chris Wooding

First published September 20, 2018

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.

It is an exciting story with many thrilling moments and hair-raising misadventures. The lives of Aren and Cade, two ordinary small-town boys, are turned completely upside down. They are forced to survive in extreme conditions, are hunted by terrifying creatures, and have to rely on the man who is the cause of Aren’s nightmares. The two boys have to make some very difficult decisions.

Ossia and the Krodan Empire

Aren was brought up according to the laws and principles of the Krodan Empire. He believes in their God and rejects everything that has to do with his ancestors. He has lived his entire life according to the Krodan rules of conduct. After Aren’s father is accused of treason and murdered before his eyes, Aren is imprisoned in a labor camp where every day is a struggle to survive. Cade, his best friend whose only crime is standing up for his friend with the police, shares his fate. Cade, who grew up hearing stories of Ossia’s past greatness, knows the brutal reality of slavery firsthand. To him, everything about Krodan is deceit, and he despises the Empire. For Aren, what has happened comes as a great shock. He has to rethink everything he believed and learned and accept that the Krodans are cruel invaders whose system keeps the Ossians docile and slavish.

Ossia’s world

The world Chris Wooding describes is a jumble of nations and tribes. I would describe it as vast, and rightly so, for there is indeed great diversity. Apart from the two main peoples of the Krodan and the Ossians, we only get to know some of the others in more detail, but the author has shown great imagination in building up their cultures and external features. I found it terribly interesting to read about these peoples, as they all have something unique and mysterious in their history.

The Ember Blade

There is a lot of magic in this book, ancient, divine, demonic, druidic, a whole range of types of magic and we manage to learn enough about each as the first book in a series.

It’s a thick book, a full 824 pages in a large format, and yet the tension was constant. I was definitely impressed by “The Ember Blade” because it is suspenseful and at times terrifying. Chris Wooding manages to maintain a constant level of uncertainty. Dizzying changes between betrayal, death, thrilling chases, secrets and more death. The suspense of the unknown follows you throughout the book. I did not know what the next line, page, chapter would bring… Chris Wooding managed to surprise me in many ways, and the fact that the question “Who’s next?” was going through my mind the whole time is undeniable proof of how good this story is. A great first book of epic fantasy that I got my hands on.

You can order 2019 edition at Gollancz

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