Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Review: Knife Sworn by Mazarkis Williams

Knife Sworn
Tower and Knife Trilogy #2
by Mazarkis Williams
Published by Jo Fletcher Books, 2012
Paperback copy, 390 pages
Knife Sworn is the sequel to The Emperor’s Knife, which I reviewed here.

Once again, I find myself having divided opinions.

The Emperor’s Knife could easily have been a stand-alone novel. In some ways, it might even have been better if it had been. But alas, the author decided to make a trilogy of the story begun in that first book. 

While I am beyond excited at getter to know the amazing universe better, I do think that this sequel starts rather heavily dealing with the aftermaths of a finished story. It makes it a little tough to really get into it.

But once you are in the middle of it, you do get caught up in the entanglements and twists of the plot. It was not a page-turner for me like The Emperor’s Knife was. But still it kept my attention and built its own painfully slow suspense toward the end.

It is a story of strong elements.

A Distinctive Narrator’s Voice
Mazarkis Williams has a brilliant flair for shaping the language into the most beautifully poetic prose. She has really managed to create her own distinctive voice as a narrator – a quality I admire greatly in an author. There is no generic use of language in her books. Even when the story is slow, it is never boring to read. 

The story is slow in Knife Sworn. My thoughts of The Emperor’s Knife was that it was almost too fast-paced; this time around, it seems she has taken a slight detour in the opposite direction.

Strong Characters under Development
One point at which Mazarkis Williams seem to do better in this sequel is the characters. I loved her characters in The Emperor’s Knife, but I thought they needed something more. In my review I asked for more depth, and I am happy to report that in Knife Sworn I am beginning to really feel some of the characters. Especially the young Grada blooms into a strong character that demands the reader’s attention.

I love the fact that none of her characters are perfect, they each have their problems they need to overcome. They come across as very human and fallible. And they have really grown a lot since the events of the first book - and the author seems to have grown with them. Her characterisations and development seem to be a little more refined in Knife Sworn. I cannot wait to see how these characters will evolve through the third book.

A Plot of Mysteries and Secrets
The plot of this book seems a lot more subtle than the one in the first book. The immediate threat of The Emperor’s Knife has been deflected and the young prince Sarmin has won the throne that was his by right, but the troubles does not end there. Much bigger and more mysterious events lie in wait to threaten the empire. 

In Knife Sworn we only get little hints and suggestions at what might come to pass. The reader is trapped in a world full of half-revealed mysteries and ancient secrets. That is the part that left me breathless and expectant after all the pages had been touched and turned. And I must admit that I am itching to get my hands on the last book of the trilogy so I can see the hammer fall already. 

A Magical Ever-Expanding Universe
What I love most about this series is still the universe. In The Emperor’s Knife we only saw a fraction of it, and it was mostly concerned about the amazing magic system that never ceased to make the reader go wide-eyed in awe. In Knife Sworn Marzarkis Williams slowly expands our view of the world. She still only shows us bits and pieces here and there, making us wonder. 

Knife Sworn definitely leaves the reader eager to pick up the next in the series. It has its strengths and its weaknesses but at the end, it is a very interesting read. On the one hand, I found it somewhat less fascinating than The Emperor’s Knife; but on the other hand, it shows a visible growth of the author. 

The Tower and Knife trilogy is definitely still a strong fantasy series, which I would recommend any day.
This book was given to me by Jo Fletcher Books in exhcange for this review.

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