Blades of the Old Empire – Book 1 of The Majat Code by Anna Kashina


bladesoftheoldempireThis is another book that has been languishing on my TBR pile far too long. So in last days of 2015, I decided to give it a whirl and see if I wanted to read it, half expecting to discard it after the first few pages. I didn’t. In fact, I stayed awake reading far later than I’d intended…

Kara is a mercenary – a Diamond warrior, the best of the best. When her tenure as protector to Prince Kythar comes to an end, he accompanies her back to the Guild, as a new threat suddenly strikes the kingdom. But events take a darker turn when the Guild’s rules are turned against Kara in a bid to neutralise her unique abilities in a fight for the soul of the kingdom, itself…

The slightly altered blurb gives some idea of this entertaining swords and sorcery adventure, where a dark religion thought to be consigned to the pages of history makes a sudden unwelcome reappearance. And, yes, you’re right – this is cosily familiar Fantasy fare. A royal family suddenly in danger from a nasty dark force, with the insanely brave and skilful elite guards in the middle of the gathering violence.

This plot-driven adventure nevertheless drives forward with plenty of energy and verve. I particularly enjoyed the nasty, smirking villain Nimos who tries very hard to smarm our protagonists into falling in with his evil schemes – before using far less pleasant methods. The protagonists are all likeable and if they don’t have the depth and complexity of some Fantasy heroes, they are still more than capable of holding the plot together and driving it forward.

The world is deftly drawn, and as the story expands as our heroes journey in different directions seeking help, the increasing pace drew me in. I particularly enjoyed the storyline of young Ellah, who is suddenly pulled into the adventure when it is discovered that she has an unusual talent. The super-warriors Kara and Mai are niftily neutralised by circumstances and magic, which successfully up the stakes. And while I wasn’t completely convinced by Kara’s all-round awesomeness, there were plenty of other characters to appreciate. I particularly enjoyed Ayalla and her dress of living spiders…

The story steadily builds to a climactic conclusion, where all the main storylines in this slice of the adventure are satisfyingly tied up, leaving one large dangling plotline that is doubtless the main narrative arc throughout the series. All in all, this is a really engrossing read – and my only regret is that I left it so long to enjoy it.

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