Most novels are written from a single point of view, one character’s journey through a story, chronicling their experiences and the people they encounter. When you start a writing career you are often told the importance of concentrating on one particular character – and it is good advice too – so you don’t get distracted and have your story ruined by becoming periodically side-tracked.
However writing is constantly changing and these days it’s not uncommon to see novels told from several different points of view. Nowhere is this trait more apparent than in the fantasy genre, where the astonishing success of Games of Thrones has shown that the modern reader can follow multiple characters over a wide expansive storyline, providing that each character is unique and thoroughly developed into their own personality.
Brian Staveley’s new series ‘The Unhewn Throne’, which starts with the novel ‘The Emperor’s Blades’ follows three completely different storylines. The plot centres on three young adults, the offspring of the ruler of the mythical Annurian Empire, and how their lives are effected by his untimely death. Each sibling is separated from the other by thousands of miles, so each story is completely independent of one another.
The first character is Kaden, heir to the Emperor’s throne, and he is brought up and trained by an order of monks in a strict minimalist regime that makes even the strictest boarding-school seem like a holiday-park. It is at this isolated monastery that the heir to the Empire learns the meditation techniques necessary to combat the mythical Csestriim –beings who once enslaved humanity. The Author Brian Staveley puts his knowledge of meditation to good use here, as he explains the methods used to empty one’s mind of distractions and emotions.
If that sounds a little slow paced for you, don’t worry, because the next sibling’s story couldn’t be more different as the younger brother Valyn is trained in one of the Empire’s elite military units that fly mammoth birds of prey called Kettral. Valyn’s story is full of action as he attempts to uncover a plot on his life as his enemies attempt to destabilise the Empire.
The final storyline comes from the brother’s sister Adare, as she takes a senior role in the running of the Empire’s government, in the nation’s capital, as the plot threads its way through the entire Empire.
The three storylines only start to converge towards the end of the novel and it will be interesting to see how Brian Staveley combines these storylines in the second novel ‘The Providence of Fire’. This series has got off to a promising start and I look forward to finding out.