The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley

Publisher: Tor Books - Pages: 480 - Buy: Book/eBook
The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley

As epic fantasies so often do The Emperor’s Blades, a debut novel from Brian Stavely, begins with the death of a ruler, and continues to follow the fall-out as it consumes his realm and children. This pattern should be familiar to readers of everything from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, to David Anthony Durham’s Acacia Trilogy. In this case, Staveley begins with three children — two male heirs, Kaden and Valyn, and a daughter suited to rule in all ways but her gender, Adare. The boys are gone from court, sent away by their father to learn at the feet of other masters, both to groom them for rule and protect them from the court’s conspiracies. Kaden, first in line for the throne, is a monk. Not the sexy D&D-type, with fists of stone, but rather a contemplative ascetic seeking to understand the world from a different perspective. Valyn lives a different life among the Kettral, the Empire’s special forces. Most of the Staveley’s narrative is concerned with the brothers’ conflicts: Kaden to realize a state of mind his father sent him to learn, and Valyn to find acceptance in an elite brotherhood. Of course, the impact of their father’s death resonates throughout their stories, but only in an overarching way. The Emperor’s Blades is very much a coming of age story, and less about the epic struggle for the Unhewn Throne and the fate of the world. Read More »

Kekaki Kotaki Knights

Last year was ink drawings of samurais, and this year it’s knights.

From the moment Seattle-based artist Kekai Kotaki posted the first of his thousand and one knights, I knew it’d become a weekly delight to see his new creations. Last Year, Kotaki did a small set of sketches featuring samurai designs, which featured stylish heavy inks, accented by bold colours, and showcased his ability to apply creative license to an iconic warrior. I loved the project so much, that I reached out to Kotaki to have a chat about his knights.

“I tend to try pick a theme each year and try to run with it as long as possible,” Kotaki explained when I asked him about the project’s origins. “Last year was ink drawings of samurais, and this year it’s knights.”

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I even joke about making a book called The One Thousand and One Knights, but I had to hold off on it, because 1,001 is quite a lot of knights.

Most readers of A Dribble of Ink will know Kotaki for his work as a cover artist (notably, Peter Orullian’s The Unremembered, and The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson). In addition to his work as a cover artist, Kotaki is also known for his work on Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet’s popular MMORPG with some of the most iconic world and character design in the genre. Kotaki’s fans will recognize the abstract, ethereal concept art and landscapes from his time with Guild Wars 2. He does tone and epic encounters better than anyone else in biz, so these character studies — simple armoured knights, direct and full of personality despite their facelessness — are a pleasing diversion for the artist. Read More »

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Images via Sokka’s Cactus Juice

The first two seasons of The Legend of Korra were problematic for a few reasons. Chief among these is its lack of an identity and defined set of goals. Avatar: The Last Airbender established its goal in the first episode: save the world from the machinations of the Fire Nation and its power-hungry leader. The Legend of Korra, on the other hand, can’t decide if it’s a coming-of-age story, an exploration of social and political revolution, a buddy-cop comedy, or an epic fantasy. Instead of dedicating itself to a tight focus, it splits its attention between all of these themes and doesn’t do any of them particularly well. Read More »

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While fans wait patiently for The Doors of Stone, the third volume in Patrick Rothfuss’ massively popular Kingkiller Chronicles, the author has been busy on several projects, including work on the final volume, The Doors of Stone. The most imminent of these, due for release in November, is The Slow Regard of Silent Things, a novella announced by Rothfuss in April, 2014.

If there’s anything that Rothfuss wants to make clear about The Slow Regard of Silent Things, however, it’s that the novella is not the third volume in the Kingkiller Chronicles. “It’s not a mammoth tome that you can use to threaten people and hold open doors,” Rothfuss explained in his announcement post. “It’s a short, sweet story about one of my favorite characters. It’s a book about Auri.”

In the announcement post, Rothfuss revealed an early synopsis for the novella:

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is set at The University where the brightest minds work to unravel the mysteries of enlightened sciences, such as artificing and alchemy. Auri, a former student (and a secondary but influential character from Rothfuss’s earlier novels) now lives alone beneath the sprawling campus in a maze of ancient and abandoned passageways. There in The Underthing, she feels her powers and learns to see the truths that science—and her former classmates—have overlooked.

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