The Broken Blade series reminded me of a lighter version of the book Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick (a fantastic book if you haven’t read it.)
Broken Blade is perfect for a fan of political/hierarchal conspiracy in a fantasy series.
Aral is a fantastic broken character that readers will love to learn more about, in fact this was one of my favorite parts of the story. McCullough does a fantastic job creating an engaging yet realistic tale of how a once great assassin and religious follow could be broken made into the “jack” acting outside the law we see today. It’s fascinating hearing Aral’s stories how he killed the king, and how he grew up with his fellow followers of Namara. Not only that but the idea that if a religious follower’s goddess died, what the ramifications would be, is a fascinating premise.
Of course Aral isn’t the only interesting character in the book, I also enjoyed Triss. Triss is Aral’s shadow familiar who also looks a little like a dragon when he’s not impersonating Aral’s shadow. Triss has cool powers, and is definitely his own established character. The only issue I have with Triss is that Triss isn’t as complex as I’d want him to be. He’s strong and makes a great sidekick but sometimes I’d be nice if he was a little bit more, or if we knew more about his kinds back story. That said I realize this is an unreasonable expectation as detailing more of Triss’s back story and adventures could in itself be an entire new series.
That said, this book isn’t just great characters and intricate political plots, it’s also filled with some heart pounding action. As Aral is forced to confront great foes and powerful former friends, the story is positively bursting with excitement. McCullough also does a great job creating an interesting world of magic and ramifications. I’d have liked a bit more of a run through with what is possible in this world, but I’m sure readers will get a greater grasp on it as the series goes on.
All in all Broken Blade is a fun first book. It’s got action, appealing characters (especially the librarian), great back stories, and an interesting magic system. Because of all of these things I’d recommend this book, and I’m looking forward to the next in the series, Bared Blade.