Heirs of the Blade

Heirs of the Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Shadows of the Apt #7

She remembered how it felt to lose Salma, first to the wiles of the Butterfly-kinden girl, then to hear the news of his death, abandoned and alone in the midst of the enemy.

She remembered how it felt to see her father hacked to death before her eyes.

But of her murder of Achaeos, of the bite of her blade into his unsuspecting flesh, the wound that had sapped him and ruined him until he died, she remembered nothing, felt nothing. In such a vacuum, how could she possibly atone?

Tynisa is running, but she cannot escape the demons of her own mind. Amidst the fragmenting provinces of the Dragonfly Commonweal her past will at last catch up with her. Her father’s ghost is hunting her down.

At the same time, the Wasp Empress, Seda, is on the move, her eyes on the city of Khanaphes, the fallen jewel of the ancient world. Whilst her soldiers seek only conquest, she sees herself as the heir to all the old powers of history, and has her eyes on a far greater prize.

Ever since starting in Empire of Black and Gold, the Shadows of the Apt series has been at the top of my list of favourite series. I read The Sea Watch somewhere last year but never had gotten around to continue in the series until now. And even though I have been out of the series for a year, from the first page onwards it felt like I read the first six books just the other day. This is because in the Shadows of the Apt series stands out in the current fantasy genre. Adrian Tchaikovsky introduces and blends a lot of unique fantasy genres that grow on you as you delve deeper into the series and that definitely leave an lasting impression on you.

The Sea Watch changed perspective and broadened the already large universe of Shadows of the Apt by including the sea side of it. Heirs of the Blade takes us back the main land and focuses on several characters that were introduced earlier in the series. Heirs of the Blade is divided into four parts and the first part focuses on Tynisa. The second part introduces the other storylines those of Seda the Wasp Empress, Che and Thalric as well as a few others. The third and fourth part of Heirs of the Blade shows the storyline alternating each other and eventually you see how interwoven the connections between the stories are.

Tynisa has always been a character that really stood out in the series. Her troubled past being a halfbreed between spider and mantis, brought up by Stenwold Maker and later finding out her heritage and becoming a Weaponsmaster. In this seventh addition to the series, Tynisa is haunted by events she witnessed in the earlier books. She travels to the Commonweal to seek guidance and finds herself confronting her own demons. Tynisa was introduced in the first book already, and all along her path in the series she has changed, grown confident. However her development takes another few leaps in the right direction in Heirs of the Blade. It was great to see a lot of dedication to Tynisa’s role in the Shadows of the Apt.

Che’s (Cheerwell Maker) character can probably be seen as the main protagonist of the series, she has gone through quite some ordeals herself and have all shaped her in some way or another, having lost her Aptitude she is now one of the powerful Inapt and finally able to control her ancestor art. It was great to see that the events of The Scarab Path were picked up In Heirs of the Blade further showing how Che’s fate and importance for the rest of the series. In his series Adrian Tchaikovsky introduces several Kinden, that all have their own set of behaviour either being confident or quite shy and the like. Che is a beetle; careful and kind hearted by nature, and her actions in the series greatly reflects these traits, I keep rooting for her. Che’s companion the ex-Rekef Thalric, this relationship doesn’t feel like it’s very strong yet but does seem that it is gaining strength. Thalric is a quite enigmatic character and thinks about several subject on a different level than Che and thereby making the whole quite complex. The self reflection of Thalric and “struggle” if you can call it that was shown in a neat manner. And when push comes to shove, Thalric springs into his old Wasp-y viciousness to deal with the challenge at hand.

Besides Tynisa and Che, another important character that makes an appearance in the first half of the book is the Wasp Empress, Seda. Seda has undergone the same as Che, losing her Aptitude and becoming a strong Inapt. I am really impressed by how Adrian Tchaikovsky shows her character. Her character radiates this strong air of dominance and danger. In all that Seda undertakes, she doesn’t take no for an answer, even with the wrong look you’ll have to watch out. Her powers are even more dangerous since she learned rituals of the Mosquito Uctebri. Likewise Che’s character it was good to have Seda in the storyline as you now learn what it all is starting to mean. There were some speculation as to what it all could mean. This is later followed up by revealing how it all is connected. Even though were still in the seventh book so far with still three to go, it does make you wonder how the rest of the story will start to unfold.

I really like that Adrian Tchaikovsky took the story to the Commonweal in Heirs of the Blade, there were the occasional references in the earlier book but not one that had the focus there. Like the rest of the world that Adrian Tchaikovsky creates for us, the Commonweal is neatly detailed, lush and interesting with the different Kinden that make up their own societies there in. There is also a short detour, that is just a crucial for the storyline to the city of Khanaphes. The introduction of this ancient city really gave again the rustic feel and how powerful the masters are and above all what Seda plans to do.

In the end of the book Seda’s plans of rising a new war are being envisioned but besides this part the book ends on a really cool scene, one of which I hadn’t imagined. Don’t know if I can call it a bold move but I am eager to see how this will work out for the remainder of the series, what Seda’s plans are and how tough it for her opposition will be.

I am so glad that I finally had gotten the chance to continue in the Shadows of the Apt series, like I mentioned in the beginning, Shadows of the Apt grows and sticks on you, it feels like I have just read the other books the other day. Heirs of the Blade follows up the events of The Scarab Path. I might have been nice to see a link with The Sea Watch, but I’m not giving up just yet, guessing by Adrian Tchaikovsky’s careful plotting I guess there will be some links to The Sea Watch to follow in the three remaining books. There are some great character developments and broadening of the world in Heirs of the Blade, but I also think that with the ending as it is in Heirs of the Blade, Adrian Tchaikovksy lays down the prefect foundation to take his series again that step further. Shadows of the Apt is a series that never stops to amaze me.

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