“Ten years ago, the Kinslayer returned from the darkness. His brutal Yorughan armies issued from the pits of the earth, crushing all resistance, leaving burnt earth and corruption behind. Thrones toppled and cities fell.
And then he died.
Celestaine—one of the heroes that destroyed him—has tasked herself with correcting the worst excesses of the Kinslayer’s brief reign, bringing light back to a broken world. With two Yorughan companions, she faces fanatics, war criminals and the Kinslayer’s former minions, as the fragile alliances of the War break down into feuding and greed.
The Kinslayer may be gone, but he cast a long shadow: one from which she may never truly escape.”
Thanks given to Netgalley and Rebellion Publishing for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve been aware of Adrian Tchaikovsky for a while now, having read his standalone novel Spiderlight and being conscious of his Shadows of the Apt series. So Redemption’s Blade is my second real foray into his work, a story focusing (as the series title suggests) on what comes after a “typical” epic fantasy world-shattering war is over and the Big Bad has been defeated.
This is fertile ground, and not a take I’ve read a lot of in fantasy. And Tchaikovsky goes above and beyond to establish this war-scarred world and the peoples and magic inhabiting it. I imagine a lot of readers will embrace this richness, though I personally didn’t connect with it – perhaps because there is so much to digest, none of it really landed with me in a lasting way. There are also a lot of fantasy tropes being toyed with in Redemption’s Blade (something Tchaikovsky did in Spiderlight as well and seems to be known for), but the way this was done acted as a constant barrier to me investing in the story. That’s not to say there weren’t elements of this I enjoyed, but it is done so consistently that I couldn’t help being forcibly reminded of other distinct fantasy worlds and characters, and unfortunately this made the whole thing feel constructed rather than organic.
There are some incredibly interesting characters in the novel, though. I wasn’t particularly a fan of the protagonist Celestaine, but her two Yorughan companions really stole the show for me.
Overall, I found Redemption’s Blade to be a huge mixing pot of ideas with a lot of care given to the worldbuilding, however I didn’t connect with the story and did have to force myself to keep reading. I’m interested to read more of Tchaikovsky’s work though and will be checking out his sci-fi novel Children of Time once I’ve made a bit more progress through my TBR pile.