The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick

I was really looking forward to this book and fortunately it didn’t disappoint.  The Boy with the Porcelain Blade is a fantasy novel with a mystery at it’s heart set in an almost gothic environment.  The story centres on Lucien de Fontein.  Living within the walls of Demesne which is a castle with four major houses around the central keep that hosts the reclusive and largely unseen king.  The story is brimming with abductions, assassination attempts and internal politics.

Lucien is one of the Orfano, which I think translates as orphan.  Orfano are provided a special status, courtesy of an edict of the king, and the major noble houses are required to take them in and raise and train them as nobles until they are of an age to choose which house they wish to serve and petition for adoption.  The Orfano are something of a mystery.   Detested, feared and tormented by the large majority of people they suffer from deformities.  In Lucien’s case the absence of ears.  Others have poisonous spines or missing limbs – some are so misshapen that they can barely function and live on the outskirts of society.

At the start of the story Lucien is undertaking his final test where he faces one of his main tormentors – Giancarlo.  Over the years Giancarlo has humiliated Lucien at every opportunity.  Unfortunately things go a little too far in the latest test culminating in… no, no, no!  No spoilers!

The story is told in a split timeline.  We follow Lucien aged 17 and then in alternate chapters we jump back to Lucien’s childhood.  I enjoyed this style although there were occasions where it grated a little being sucked out of the main story.

In terms of the characters there is the sinister Majordomo who appears and disappears quite often at the most opportune moments.  Rafaela, the object of attraction for Lucien and the other Orfano, Dino and Anea in particular.  There are the nobility who spend their time scheming and coming up with new ways to use the Orfano in their political maneouvering.  But, aside from all of that is a much darker story of abduction, in the dead of night.  Young women being snatched from their homes for some terrible purpose.

I thought this was a very good debut.  Lucien makes an interesting protagonist.  Tormented and lonely.  Desperate for acceptance.  At times rash.  Young and in love.  Curious and a bit of a slave to his emotions which undoubtedly gets him into a pickle at times.

In terms of criticisms.   The Orfano are a puzzle throughout and this is deliberate on the part of the author.   It makes the mystery more sinister and adds to the tension.  But, I felt there was a lack of background and I wanted more information in that respect.  It didn’t spoil the read for me but, like Lucien, I have a major curious streak.

I’m counting this book to my 100 books in a year challenge and also entering it under ‘fantasy’ for Stainless Steel Droppings Once Upon a Time event.

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12 Responses to “The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick”

  1. bookworm

    The Boy with the Porcelain Blade sounds interesting even if there could have been more character development. The whole missing limbs aspect of it does seem to give it all a darker twist. Great review.

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I’m like Oliver – I always want more. I just wanted to know more about the background for the people.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Rabindranauth

    Sounds sweet. I’ll wait for the Erebus Sequence to progress further before getting into it, though; A Song of Ice and Fire has instilled a distinct hatred of waiting on sequels in me 😛

    • lynnsbooks

      Yes, I totally hear you – waiting for books in a series is the bane of my life!
      Lynn 😀

      • Rabindranauth

        Curious, have you read The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson?

      • lynnsbooks

        Yes, I’ve just finished the Way of Kings – took part in a readalong and in fact have just started Words of Radiance. Have you read it? Are you reading Words of Radiance – I’ve joined another readalong for that one too (if you’re planning on reading you should check it out).
        Lynn 😀

      • Rabindranauth

        I have, let’s just say there are 8 books more to go and I intend to reread the series before each comes out >_>

      • lynnsbooks

        Wow – that’s a pretty mammoth undertaking. Respect.
        Lynn 😀

      • Rabindranauth

        Worth it >_>

      • lynnsbooks

        Agree!

  3. fence

    This is on my list for this year’s OUaT, which doesn’t mean I’ll get to it, but hopefully. I like the title 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      I know – I confess I like the title and the cover!! Bit of a sucker for good covers.
      Lynn 😀

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