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Blade of Dreams

Blade of Dreams by Daniel Abraham

Orbit Books, hb, £15.93

Reviewed by Sarah Deeming

The prince of Kithamar, Ausai a Sal, has died, and his nephew, Bryn a Sal, is his successor. But his succession is short-lived, and within the year, he is dead. Elaine a Sal is Bryn’s only child and will be prince after him. Garreth Left is the firstborn son of a powerful merchant family and is soon to be married to create an alliance between his family and an Inlisc tribe. At the start of Bryn a Sal’s reign, both Elaine and Garreth make decisions that bring them together for one brief moment, then separate them as Kithamar’s politics and gods conspire against Bryn’s rule and Elaine’s life. Can Elaine uncover the conspiracy and save herself, or will she suffer the same fate as her father?

Blade of Dreams is the second book in Daniel Abraham’s The Kithamar Trilogy and gives us the answers to a few of the questions we were left with at the end of book 1. From the beginning, it is clear we’re going to get more answers to Kithamar’s gods and the unusual succession of the city’s princes. We’re also seeing the city from a different perspective as the main characters, Elaine and Garreth, occupy higher social circles than Alys and Sammish in the first book, Age of Ash. I found this narrative style really interesting as Alys and Sammish understand more of what is going on than Elaine and Garreth, which means the reader knows what’s coming for the young couple up to a point, but not beyond what Alys would know. This really raised the stakes and kept me engaged.

In the first book, we were given an understanding of the gods in the city, but not much detail. In Blade of Dreams, we get more information, which answers many questions from the first book. Faith and gods are described as something fluid, with the gods coming into being and designed through belief, so they will change over time to reflect the people of the time. This is recognisable in our world as the different faiths re-examine where they fit in the modern world. It also portrays the gods as not wholly benevolent; they are more ambiguous than that, as befitting beings of their power. I really enjoyed a deeper dive into this aspect of Kithamar’s culture and how the gods are vying for power.

The ending left me hungry for more. Blade of Dreams took the ending of Age of Ash and took another step towards a final resolution. Will book 3 be the same year again but told from a different point of view and an extension of the resolution, or will there be a fallout with the gods with the mortal characters’ collateral damage in the middle? I don’t know, but either way, I’m eager to find out.

Blade of Dreams is a real page-turner. Cleverly crafted with well-designed characters in a masterclass of world-building. This is fantasy at its best, and I can’t wait for the third book. Highly recommended.

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