Redemption’s Blade: After The War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

redemptionOkay, here it is – I’ve written and deleted this review about three times and I’m still just as conflicted and frustrated with myself now as I was at the start so here it is: my feelings on Redemption’s Blade are a bit mixed.  I can’t deny it was an easy read, I love the writing style of Adrian Tchaikovsky and if this turns out to be the start in a series of adventures by this motley crew then I can definitely say I’d like to pick up more from the world of Celestaine and her sidekicks.

Redemption’s Blade comes after all the horrific events that usually take place in a novel have come to an end and the tyrant ruler has been killed or overthrown.  I really like this as an idea because it gives us a chance to see what happens next and there’s certainly plenty of food for thought contained within these pages.

The world here has suffered greatly with huge swathes of land now being uninhabitable.  On top of that tensions, prejudice, fear and hate are par for the course. Regardless of ‘side’ everybody suffered during the reign of the Kinslayer and the bloodshed and loss have created an ugly atmosphere where the need for revenge is barely kept in check and on top of that, travel too far into the wilderness and some people still think the war is going on.  I loved the world created here.  I guess there’s an expectation that when you kill the tyrant everyone goes back to their lives again but in actual fact a lot of those lives have been destroyed or left in tatters.

In terms of the characters we follow Celestaine.  Slayer of the Kinslayer she can barely enter a town without being immediately recognised and revered.  Although, travelling with two Yorughan as companions (the former enemy) usually puts something of a dampener on the over enthusiastic displays of anyone she encounters.  Celeste is a conflicted character.  Known as the hero of the war she suffers from the guilt of knowing that the victory was anything but single handed, I guess she’s experiencing a form of ‘impostor’ syndrome coupled with a crisis of identity as a hero in a world where there is no longer a need for heroics.  Her companions are two Yorughan.  Creations of the Kinslayer these are huge creatures, strong and with keen eyesight as a result of many years spent in the bowels of the earth.  These two are interesting characters and are a great demonstration of the fact that war is sometimes just purely a matter of unhappy chance.  They and the rest of their race were manipulated by the Kinslayer and made to fight, dissenters were tortured or killed.  There are other characters who come into play along the way but I won’t mention them here and there’s also a storyline with two collectors who seem to be seeking the same magical artefact that Celeste is in search of.

The plot is fairly simple in nature and involves a quest.  Celeste, in an attempt to find new meaning to her life, is trying to put to rights some of the atrocities committed by the Kinslayer, one of which was the almost annihilation of the Aethani race and the mutilation of those that survived.

In terms of my overall feelings.  I felt to an extent that the plot suffered a little.  In real terms this isn’t an epic adventure to save the world and yet there feels like there’s an identity crisis going on wherein the story wants to be more than it should or more than I expected (I suppose more to the point).  I think I was anticipating a smaller more concentrated focus but it felt like Celeste and her companions went from one near death situation to the next and to be honest it started to feel like a continuous loop.  I think I reached a point where I didn’t feel tension or fear on behalf of the characters.  Having given this plenty of thought, the real issue for me is that my expectations had headed in a different direction than the story took and it took me a little while to come to terms with that.

All that being said, I like this author and his prose brings the world and the characters to life in a way that feels deceptively easy.  He handles descriptions well and manages to avoid the trap of over egging the pudding or turning the story into a history lesson.  I thought there was a lot of food for thought here about war in general, the winners and the losers and their motivations.  The blood fuelled hatred that survives long after the enemy has been destroyed, stoked by a need for revenge and conflicted characters who now question their own actions and the reasons behind them.  I think this could be a really entertaining series where Celeste and her team travel from place to place putting wrongs to right – I’m not sure if that is the intention but I certainly hope so and I would pick up more books to check out what comes next.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.