Reviewed by Ian Lipke
Victoria Aveyard was born and raised in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts but moved to Los Angeles to earn a BFA in screenwriting at the University of Southern California. She writes both books and sheet music.
Aveyard’s Blade Breaker shows that she has the breadth of vision to imagine and produce a hefty story and demonstrates this in a consistent pattern. She has imagined a tale in which the Lady Corayne exists in opposition to the evil Queen Erida and her consort Taristan. Erida and her followers open portals into nightmarish worlds; Corayne closes them. Eventually, Corayne’s followers agree with her that she must assemble an army to meet Erida’s forces. Such an action is not popular with the opposition who release assassins, otherworldly beasts, and tempestuous seas. But that’s not all! Something more horrible than Corayne can imagine awaits to be inflicted on our hero’s forces.
This is a story to be found only in the scientific/fantasy book literature (or in comic books).
In terms of structure, the story suffers. Each chapter is headed with a quip and the name of a character, and what follows within the chapter reflects something to do with that heading. For example, chapter 13 is called ‘Come and See – Erida’. ‘Come and See’ must refer to ‘The Army of Asunder’, a force of the dead, who are prominent in this chapter but rarely seen again. Since so much attention is paid to the army of Asunder, I would have expected to see its deeds displayed more prominently. The sub-heading ‘Erida’ must simply be a signal to identify whether the group is good or evil.
The book contains heroes that have no difficulty “performing ‘x’ terrible feats before breakfast.”. In chapter 14 ‘Put the pain away – Dom’ we witness the elder Dom attacking twelve trained warriors, an elite squad, defeating them as a matter of course. In turn, he is pierced in several places but plucks the offending barbs from his wounds. All characters, whether strong or weak, fierce or retiring, are super-heroes. It goes without saying that they all possess magical powers, but given the type of book this volume is, one is quite comfortable when reading of their exploits.
The book is distinguished by its rich settings, or by contrast, the poverty of its common people. Rich or poor, nobody appears to have considered bathing as a pursuit to be followed in a regular fashion. Just a sign of the times, I guess. However, the book is not to be criticised for the absence of such a modern practice.
It would be easy to criticise various aspects of this book. It has its strengths and weaknesses and, in the judgment stakes, would be considered more than adequate by members of its intended audience.
By Victoria Aveyard
$22.99; 592 pp