Heirs Of The Blade (Shadows Of The Apt book seven) by Adrian Tchaikovsky (book review).

Since killing her sister’s lover, Achaeos, Tynisa has struggled to cope with her guilt, even though she has no memory of the event. Venturing into the Commonweal, she hopes to find peace by delivering news of Prince Salma Dien’s death to his family. However, her father’s ghost is determined that the only path for Tynisa now is that of death and destruction – this is the Mantis way. Cheerwell Maker, Tynisa’s adoptive sister, sets out to free her from the ghost, but Cheerwell is herself haunted and her ghosts aren’t even dead yet.


‘Heirs Of The Blade’ is the seventh book in the ‘Shadows Of The Apt’ series, which will eventually stretch to ten books in total if all goes to plan. Adrian Tchaikovsky has created a fabulously intricate world as the setting for these books and with each one something new is revealed.

By this point, we have been following the characters for a long time and. although they are very familiar, there are still new things to learn about them. Cheerwell seems to be undergoing the most radical of transformations and has gone from being a nice enough side character to a really interesting focal point. Her innocence and guilt are a wonderful contrast to the Wasp Empress Seda, a sociopathic woman with some serious power issues. Tynisa gets more attention here than we’ve seen previously, although I still don’t feel like we know her all that well in comparison with the depth to which other characters have been written. Even the new characters seem to have more in the way of details than Tynisa, which is a bit of a shame. It’s one of the things I usually really like about Tchaikovsky’s books, even little characters have big personalities.

Tchaikovsky is a live-action role player in real life and his battle experience really shows in the incredible action scenes that have been present throughout the series. In ‘Heirs Of The Blade, the action shifts to the Commonweal and with this we also get new styles of fighting. I’m no expert on battles but it’s nice to have variety in them and I enjoyed reading the different tactics and fight sequences. These range from the exquisite dance of the weaponsmasters to archers on horseback, the hand-to-hand combat of the brigands to the air assaults of the dragonfly soldiers.

I’m really impressed that at the end of book seven I’m as eager to find out what happens next as I was at the end of book one. There have been a couple of low points in the series but they are few and far between and each time I’m worried things might start to stagnate the plot takes another unexpected turn.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Heirs Of The Blade’ and the whole series is one I’d have no hesitation in recommending to anyone who enjoys fantasy.

Vinca Russell

(pub: TOR-UK/PanMacmillan. 622 page paperback. Price: £12.99 (UK), $19.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-230-75699-1)

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