House of Blades by Will Wight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As a boy Simon's father was killed and his mother driven insane by Travelers. Simon only survived thanks to a powerful stranger who intervened. This stranger offered to teach Simon when he got a little older, but Simon didn't return as he was busy taking care of his mother. 8 years later Simon's village is attacked, villagers are taken hostage, and others scatter. When Simon and some of the others who fled are found, a young man from his village Alin miraculously becomes a prophesied traveler and saves them. Unfortunately Simon's mother is killed in the process. Simon wishing to save the villagers taken hostage and no longer having to care for his mother, heads out to find the stranger who saved him as a boy. His only goal is to become strong enough to save the captive villagers.
House of Blades was an unexpectedly delightful read. I added this book to my to read pile years ago, but only recently got around to it. The description wasn't particularly compelling and I honestly just forgot about it, until recently. I wish I read this years ago.
House of Blades has an intriguing magic system. The magic users gain their power from gates to certain territories. The territories are magical domains where people can gain access to the power the domains possess. The abilities aren't given they must be earned. If everyone's experiences are as difficult as Simon's then it's truly amazing that anyone has magical abilities. Simon sought his power from Valinhall. Valinhall is a territory where nearly everything in it tries to kill those seeking to earn it's powers. It makes for many sleepless nights.
The characters were so so in the novel, but I particularly liked Simon. Simon's life became difficult when his father died before his eyes and his mother was driven insane. As a mere boy he became the caretaker to his mother. Simon hates being helpless, but there is little he can do about it until his mother dies. Simon has more guts and determination in him than skill by far. Seeing him struggle for such selfless reasons was inspiring.
House of Blades was a pleasant surprise and I hope the rest of the trilogy is as good or better.
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