Source: Audiobook Blast- I received this in exchange for an honest review.
Series: Nightblade #1
Narrator: Andrew Tell
Edition: Audiobook, 13 Hours 18 Minutes
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble *
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Ryuu is a boy orphaned by violence at a young age. Found by a wandering warrior, he learns he may have more strength than he ever imagined possible.
A quiet child, Moriko is forced into a monastic system she despises. Torn from her family and the forest she grew up in, she must fight to learn the skills she’ll need to survive her tutelage under the realm’s most dangerous assassin.
Young, beautiful, and broke, Takako is sold to pay for her father’s debts. Thrust into a world she doesn’t understand and battles she didn’t ask for, she must decide where her loyalties lie.
When their lives crash together in a Kingdom on the brink of war, the decisions they make will change both their lives and their Kingdom forever.
If they can stay alive.
Nightblade represents a whole year spent taking chances on books I’ve never heard of, all with the hopes of finding new authors and hidden gems. Some didn’t turn out that way but most turned out to be excellent and fun choices. Nightblade is truly one of those gems.
Instead of your run of the mill, European based fantasy we are treated to a world with Japanese/Chinese parallels with a very rich history. The land is split into three main Kingdoms, with other nations surrounding that, and each has a tenuous and fragile peace with the other. But our story takes place on a smaller more personal scale. Ryuu isn’t tasked with changing the world or bringing peace to a set of kingdoms, instead he us simply trying to live a life where he can use his strength to protect those without choice or means of doing so themselves…which is refreshing after reading so many books where the main character sets out to utterly dismantle the status quo. I think that difference really brings the raw emotion of the experiences he goes through to the forefront. The kingdom itself is oddly beautiful despite it’s issues and the author’s skill with building worlds is fairly apparent. I could see the busy streets of the city, and the shadow streets of the red lit road where men go for companionship, I could easily picture the old forest and stone paved courtyard of the monasteries. One can go a long time without experiencing world building on a scale where everything becomes an actual sensory memory, as opposed to just a plot line, and I never realize how starved I am until I find one.
Ryuu is definitely a fantastic character to follow, as is Moriko and Takako…who all come together in different ways. Each of them shares the loss of their family and the chance of a normal life but the way the view the world is different. Ryuu is headstrong and curious, and he wants to help others no matter what and most of the story centers around each consequence of his actions and the weight it puts on a single person. While he is skilled and hardened in many ways in some others he is a bit naive, which joins nicely with Takako’s loving personality and her knowledge of what the world is really like.
Nightblade is definitely a highlight to this year’s books, and I’m glad I took a chance on it when I did.