After producing a steady stream of excellent, thought-provoking books, Adrian Tchaikovsky has now become one of my must-read authors – see my review of Spiderlight. And when I saw this one appear on Netgalley, I thought Christmas had come early – I just loved the premise…
Ten years ago, the renegade demigod known as the Kinslayer returned. His armies of monsters issued from the pits of the earth, spearheaded by his brutal Yorughan soldiers. He won every battle, leaving burnt earth and corruption behind. Thrones toppled and cities fell as he drove all before him. And then he died. A handful of lucky heroes and some traitors amongst his own, and the great Kinslayer was no more. Celestaine was one such hero and now she has tasked herself to correct the worst excesses of the Kinslayer and bring light back to her torn-up world. With two Yorughan companions she faces fanatics, war criminals and the monsters and minions the Kinslayer left behind as the fragile alliances of the war break down into feuding, greed and mistrust. The Kinslayer may be gone, but he cast a long shadow she may never truly escape.
So… the epic battle has been fought and won by the forces of good against the terrible evil threat. We are now in the realms of ‘and they lived happily ever after…’ Except they’re not. All manner of creatures ripped apart and horribly disfigured by the Kinslayer are still struggling to put their lives together in a land that has similarly been mutilated. Celestaine has devoted her live and the services of her magical blade to hunting down those still determined to carry out the wishes of their dead master. While she is feted as one of the heroes who overthrew the tyrant, she is left with far too many memories of her fallen companions and a burning need to make their sacrifice worth it by trying to make the world a better place.
It turns out that she isn’t the only one seeking powerful magical gismos and given that her two closest companions were created in the bowels of the earth by the Kinslayer for the express purpose of killing on his behalf (think orcs…) they don’t generally get a great welcome. Her intrepid band overcome all manner of obstacles and adventures on this quest – which makes this an engrossing read with plenty at stake…
I absolutely love this one. Tchaikovsky has taken many of the classical fantasy tropes and given them a thorough shaking, so along with high drama and adventure, we get asides on the nature of faith and what happens to gods once they are overthrown, given they are immortal. The supporting characters are wonderful – I love the two Yorughan warriors, particularly Heno with his snarky asides, as well as Dr Catto and his accomplice Fisher who are the delightfully insouciant antagonists intent on scooping up anything magical after Celestaine and her band have gone to the effort of overcoming the opposition. The character who tugged at my heartstrings is Kul, the prince of flying people, whose wings were savagely mutilated during the war, so there is no one now alive to teach youngsters how to fly. This means they drag their wings around as they join the earth-bound drudgery that is the lot of their parents, or hack them off… I’ve thought a lot about Kul since I completed this book.
This being Tchaikovsky, he brings this adventure to an entirely satisfactory end. I’d love to see more stories set in this world – please? But even if there isn’t, I’m glad to have been along for this particular ride – another outstanding addition to this author’s canon. While I obtained an arc of Redemption’s Blade: After the War from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
How long is this book?
It’s 500+ pages, so a properly worthwhile read:))
Thanks. I’ll have to add that to his ever growing queue…
Yes – he is very prolific, isn’t he?
I keep reading rave reviews of Tchaikovsky’s work but I still need to read him. Thank you for the reminder, I’m so glad you loved this😁
Oh, I did! Though I’m conscious I do sound a bit fan-girly…
I just love how intricate the plot sounds. The part about the winged people no longer knowing how to use their wings is just so sad. I can see what that part really got to you.
Yes… the worldbuilding is especially good in this book and I loved the setup and the clever, witty manner in which the premise has been realised:)). But those bird people… I dreamt of them.
This sounds epic, Sarah. Thanks for your wonderful review. I bet this is one for an all night read!
Erm… how did you know?? Though I am trying to break myself of this habit, as it tends to catch up with me by the end of the week!
Nice! I’ve seen reviews that say this one is not as impressive as his other fantasy work, but I guess that can be chalked up to a matter of perspective. To be honest, classical fantasy tropes are fine for me, especially if he puts interesting, dramatic twists on them! Really looking forward to checking this one out!
Yes – I’ve read some mixed reviews on this one. It doesn’t start with a bang – but then, his books often don’t. He tends to start slowly and the pace steadily gathers momentum as the book progresses – but it’s worth sticking with him… Oddly enough, the only body of work I couldn’t get on with was his Shadows of the Apt series.
I have started reading his “Children of Time” today, so your post looks like a good omen… 🙂
Thanks for sharing!
Ooo… I’m really looking forward to seeing what you make that one!
I liked this one but I was conflicted with it. Obviously I love AT’s writing and he does a wonderful job here. I felt myself suffering a little bit at the story progressed because it felt a bit repetitive but having really thought about it I like what the author has set up here and think it could make a really excellent series.
Yes – I’ll be honest, because I tore into this one full of excitement and read it FAST, that somewhat slid past me… The interesting thing is that the next book in the series is written by another author – the marvellous Justina Robson! And I’m delighted to say I’ve got hold of it!!!
You’ve written warmly about this author before. Which of his books would be a good introduction to him?
Either Children of Time or Spiderlight are excellent introductions to his work:))
Funny, I read a glowing review of this book over at Tor.com earlier this week. And the part that draws me in is the “after the war” aspect, and how picking up the pieces after the dark lord has been defeated isn’t always so glorious or clear-cut. I haven’t read Tchaikovsky’s books before, though, but I’ve heard of him. Would Redemption’s Blade be an OK place for a newbie to start with his work? Or would this be too… well, I can’t think of the right word, but I think you know where I’m going here?
No – actually I think it would be a really great place to start, Sara. It has had some mixed reviews, but I really loved it.
Oh, I really like that cover! So atmospheric!! But the plot is what REALLY grabs me! I’m sure it’s full of twists and turns all over the place! Plus, the characters sound very memorable indeed!
The only Tchaikovsky I’m familiar with is the classical music composer. I wonder if Adrian T. is any relation…. This is yet another reason I’m interested in this book. 🙂
Thanks for the great, very insightful review!! HUGS!! ❤ ❤ ❤ 🙂 🙂 🙂
Yes, he is related to the famous composer! I can’t exactly recall how, but I do know it’s the case. He is also a lovely man – I’ve met him several times at various Cons and watched him on panels.
And you’re right – the plot is memorable and the characters are very striking. It’s that premise… I loved this one:)
Already added this one to my Goodreads TBR list!
Good! I hope you enjoy it:)
I feel sooo guilty. You recommended this author so many times on different occasions (and different books), but my lukewarm, somewhat disappointing experience with the Shadows of the Apt (if I recall the series name correctly), makes me steer clear, and I find myself unable to give him a second chance. (I have the same problem with The Copper Promise). I guess first book impression is a thing…
lol… I fully understand – for what it’s worth, I couldn’t get on with the Shadows of the Apt series, either – I walked away halfway through the 2nd book. It was Himself who nagged at me to give him a second chance – and I’m so glad I did! It’s a bit like George R.R. Martin – I couldn’t get on with A Song of Ice and Fire, but Windhaven is a joy… And Fevre Dream is one of the best novellas I’ve ever read… But there are authors that I won’t return to, also – so please don’t feel guilty!
I stopped exactly at the same place, slogged through to the end of book 2, and then concluded I’ll just read the blurbs of the remaining books to see if it’s worth it.
But with your recommendation, I’ll definitely give him another chance (I couldn’t get through GRR Martin either…). At least if I try something else, I’ll have a definite answer whether this is an author for me. 🙂