Rating: 4 stars
Rating: 4 stars
Rosie Thinks: The prologue of this story is concise, enthralling and brutal, and sets up the tone for the rest of the book. It follows the Emperor's three grown children, after his murder. Kaden, the heir, is in a remote monastery and struggling to master the austere lifestyle of the Shin, despite not knowing how this will prepare him for the throne. Valyn is training to join the most elite fighting unit in the world, the Kettral, and is beset by treachery on all sides. Our final MC, Adare, is in the capital trying to bring justice to the man who killed her father.
Usually in a story that switches POVs, there's always one character that I like the best - not in this story! I enjoyed all three, though probably Kaden and Valyn the best. Adare only got a few chapters, and I would really like to see her character more expanded in future books. With the way her story left off, I'm very excited for the next one! Despite Adare's character not being very fleshed out, Kaden and Valyn were explored in depth and grew into distinctive characters in my mind, with a lot of character development done over the course of the story. Each story thread has a range of characters, and serious kudos to Staveley for not making the big cast seem big - each minor character is individual and not once did I forget about one or get confused!
I was never bored in this story, but at the same time, the beginning didn't really draw me in (after the prologue, that is). I didn't truly feel for any of the characters until about a third of the way through. I kept reading, though, since the world-building is absolutely fantastic, and the actual plot was very interesting. The way that Staveley expanded the world of the Kettral and the Shin through the trials and lessons that the brothers endure is unique and very interesting. Because I wasn't completely taken in by this book, I was going to give it a three out of five, but the absolutely ridiculous ending made me bump it up to a four. The ending contains a few twists that make you rethink everything you know so far and it is one action-packed event after the other. I was a bit 'meh' about reading the second book when it comes out, but after that ending, I can't wait!
While there were no huge info dumps, I feel like a lot of this book was setting up the story and the characters for the next books. I can already tell that the second book is going to be intense and action-filled from the beginning to the end!