Hello Humans! Welcome back to another book review. It feels like so many amazing books are being published this month and today’s featured title is no exception. Seven Blades in Black is the first book in a new series from Sam Sykes – an author who, I’ll confess, I had never read before. I went into this knowing that I was getting a fantasy novel and that was pretty much it (I suck at reading book descriptions and it only backfires 40% of the time) and was met with a book that delighted me throughout!
Among humans, none have power like mages. And among mages, none have will like Sal the Cacophony. Once revered, now vagrant, she walks a wasteland scarred by generations of magical warfare. The Scar, a land torn between powerful empires, is where rogue mages go to disappear, disgraced soldiers go to die and Sal went with a blade, a gun and a list of names she intended to use both on. But vengeance is a flame swift extinguished. Betrayed by those she trusted most, her magic torn from her and awaiting execution, Sal the Cacophony has one last tale to tell before they take her head. All she has left is her name, her story and the weapon she used to carve both.
Vengeance is its own reward.
I’ve said this before but, for me, a five-star rating is more of a gut feeling than anything else. It’s that need to keep reading, to find out the end, to keep journeying with the character(s) even beyond the last page. This was, for sure, a five-star read for me, I haven’t really left this world yet even though I’m already 15% into the next book. I’m going to try and articulate all the things I liked about this book but you’ll have to excuse me if it comes out a bit garbled…
The worldbuilding! I loved the world these characters inhabited. The magic system was one of my favourite things, the idea that different kinds of magic have a different ‘price’ or ‘trade’ is nothing particularly new but it came across so well in this story and it was used in a very clever way throughout the book. I also thought that the conflicts and cultural clashes were clever but still made sense within the story, you get the sense that the main character, Sal, is a part of something much bigger than just this story, which is always a win for me.
I also thought that the ‘technology’ was really well done, the various means of transport, from riding on the back of giant birds to huge ships, are a great indication of the richness of the world Sykes has created here. I can’t wait to read more set in this universe and to expand it even further. There’s something a shade of steampunk in it without feeling aggressively ‘coggy’. It’s great – what more can I say?
Sal as a character, just…yes. I found myself getting vibes of Spellslinger in this book – though it’s not as YA as Spellslinger is, which is obvious from the western/fantasy crossover but also it’s the no-nonsense humour of the characters. If you’re the kind of person who clutches their pearls when they hear a swear word then maybe skip this one. Sal is a great example of a character who knows that they’re not exactly morally good but instead of having a crisis about it every five minutes she embraces it and gets on with what she’s doing. It was so refreshing to read this kind of character and I have a feeling Sal is someone to whom I’ll be comparing fantasy heroines in the future…
This book is a punch in the face – but in a good way. I pretty much loved everything about it. It was quippy without feeling smug and that’s not something easy to pull off. I honestly can’t wait to read more.
My rating: 5/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Seven Blades in Black is available now!
What say you? What are some of your five-star faves? Let me know in the comments below!