BOOK EXTRACT The Emperor's Blades

Read the first seven chapters of Brian Staveley's hot new fantasy debut

An editor for poetry house Antilever Press, Brian Staveley has taught literature, religion, history and philosophy. His debut novel The Emperor’s Blades , the first instalment in the Chronicle Of The Unhewn Throne trilogy, is out now from Tor.

You can read the first seven chapters by clicking the book cover below . Scroll down even further and you can read our recent "New Author" interview with Brian from SFX 242.

What would you write as the cover blurb for The Emperor’s Blades ?
When the emperor of Annur is murdered, his three adult children – an ascetic monk, an elite soldier, and a shrewd politician – must unravel the conspiracy behind his death, a conspiracy that threatens their lives, their empire, and perhaps humanity itself.

Have you had a eureka moment yet where you’ve thought “Yes, now I’m an author!”?
It’s thrilling to hold the actual book in your hands, to flip the pages and admire Richard Anderson’s gorgeous cover art. But as for being an author, the whole thing still feels a bit like a trick, like someone might jump out from the kitchen cabinet one night and yell, “Just kidding!”

Did the fact that you’ve taught history, religion and philosophy help when it came to world building?
Absolutely. Before I wrote a word of the actual story, I spent months working through the mythology and religious structures of the world. Having real-world analogues – Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Zen Buddhism – to use as points of reference and departure proved tremendously useful.

A murder is at the heart of the plot. Did you enjoy the contrast of political and royal intrigue against a fantasy backdrop?
It’s fun to imagine how plots and counterplots might play out in a pre-modern world. In the newspapers we tend to see stories of electronic surveillance, massive data mining operations, encryption algorithms. Murder mysteries focus on forensic analysis and DNA tracing. These can make for fascinating story elements, but I’ve really enjoyed thinking through the ways in which people might succeed or fail in their machinations without access to all the technology.

Which three authors would you like to be compared with in a dream review?
I’m going to sidestep the fraught question of comparison. I will say that some of the many genre writers I admire (whether or not their work bears any similarity to mine) include Ursula K Le Guin, Dan Simmons, Peter Watts, Hilary Mantel, George RR Martin, NK Jemisin and Joe Abercrombie.