Synopsis: 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 carved both.
Vengeance is its own reward.
“And I felt like I was choking on my own blood again. I felt like I was drowning on dry land. I felt like I wanted to tear my throat out so I could breathe again. I felt like I wanted to take out my gun and start shooting until things made sense..”
Well, fuck. If this isn’t my jam, I don’t know what is!
Sal the Cacophony (rad name, yeah?) felt as though she was a part of my soul. I related to her in many ways.. for awhile there, I was feeling personally attacked! Goddamn. Sarcastic, sweary, tattooed, self-deprecating, a bit surly yet trying to remain optimistic, tough, slightly jaded by some trauma in her past, enjoys a dirty joke or ten, loves whiskey.. but like, she’s the way cooler badass fantasy version! Unfortunately, I don’t have a gun that shoots magic or a sword named Jeff. YET.
Seven Blades in Black is burnt! Er.. lit. Whatever the kids say these days! But it’s also literally on fire. The world within the pages known as the Scar, that is. The Scar is a devastated wasteland between two empires – the Imperium & the Revolution – who are at war. This is where we find Sal on her quest for revenge. She is on a mission to track down & kill the mages that have betrayed her by stealing her magic. As the story begins, Sal is arrested by the Revolution & is awaiting execution. Interrogated by Governor-Militant Tretta Stern about the trail of bodies that Sal has left behind & a soldier that has gone missing, she is set to be executed for her crimes. But first, Tretta wants answers.
Sidenote: How dope is this cover by Jeremy Wilson?!
I’ve followed Sam Sykes on Twitter for years now, although this is my first book of his that I’ve read. I’m so glad I finally took the plunge (I do own his other books, but it’s me.. the broken record always rambling on about the never-ending TBR struggle..)
Sykes has said that this is his love letter to Final Fantasy & he unabashedly wears that influence on his sleeve here. There is a JRPG storytelling quality that is addictive as fuck & this has that & more. As a big fan of the Final Fantasy franchise & of JRPG’s in general, this gave me the warm fuzzies. Oof.
“If it were possible to make love to books, I would.
Downstairs, Liette’s shop was neatly organized and pleasingly sparse. Upstairs, Liette’s parlor was a madwoman’s design.
Every wall was lined with shelves and every shelf was positively bursting with books. Some of them were crammed to the breaking point, some of them sagged in the middle from the weight of heavy tomes, some of them just gave the fuck up. Books grew in piles and columns across the carpeted floor, a forest of paper and leather that seemed to blossom out of the floor. Books, opened and pages marked, lay in a haphazard spread across the table in the middle of the room and upon the armrests of the sofa facing it.”
At almost 700 pages, I can’t help but admire the sheer skill & cleverness of the plot that unfolds throughout this wrist-breaker. It never felt bogged down or excessively long. Sal’s blood-soaked backstory was handled brilliantly by Sykes & added some truly gut-punchy moments. His timing is just utter perfection! Complex characters, great dialogue, intense action, a compellingly bonkers magic system, intricate worldbuilding, brutal violence, humor, romance, A FUCKING GIANT RIDING BIRD NAMED CONGENIALITY. I just adored this book so completely!
Seven Blades in Black is a fantastic beginning to the Grave of Empires trilogy & I’m eagerly waiting for the next installment!
::face pops out of your screen:: READ THIS BOOK!!
(HUGE thanks to Orbit Books for sending me a copy! I didn’t even have to punch someone’s grandma in the face.. SCORE!!)