Short Note: This is Team LB=TC^2’s third finalist review of #SPFBO7 with many more to follow. Please check out Lynn’s Books’ review for The Mortal Blade here.
Medium:Audiobook/ ebook (444 pages in print)
Overview (No Spoilers):
The Mortal Blade gripped me right from the opening chapter where we see magical abilities on full display during an intense, clandestine operation. I remained entertained throughout, returning to The City whenever I had a free moment. While the story Mitchell crafts is mostly limited to the confines of a single city, its history is steeped in enough betrayal and intrigue to keep the reader guessing the motivations and outcomes of every situation that arises.
This novel follows several characters who span a wide array of the City’s vast social classes, encompassing a demigod, a coming-of-age aristocrat, a warrior from another world, and a troublemaker failing to live up to her family’s lofty expectations. Maddie is by far my favorite character. She is flawed and full of quirks that drive her family and commanders absolutely crazy but provides much amusement for the reader. It is her unique personality that opens up a rare but dangerous opportunity beyond what her peers could even dream of.
In stark contrast to Maddie, Daniel’s story provides an interesting perspective from the privileged aristocracy. Daniel faces immense pressure to continue his family name and further their legacy yet finds himself tiring of the petty games and tedious expectations, instead longing to make a real difference. This theme of family expectations is explored on opposite ends of the social classes for both Daniel and Maddie. Despite this common theme, the majority of Daniel’s story feels like it’s on its own tangent compared to the other POVs until one of the last chapters briefly ties him to another major character.
The other two main characters both wield unique powers and find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other. Although Aila is lucky to have survived the Civil War between the gods and demigods from 300 years earlier, she is still up to her rebel ways, striving to use her government position to make the lives of those in her district better. Meanwhile, Corthie is “recruited” from elsewhere as the new Champion to defend the City from an enemy known as the greenhides after exhibiting abilities not seen in mortals before. An unexpected pairing, Alia holds her secrets close while Corthie waits goodnaturedly for his sister to rescue him. The Mortal Blade was initially described to me as young adult, however the only aspect of this read that I would classify under that designation would be the instant and overwhelming romance between these two characters.
With regard to the rest of the cast, there are many characters to keep straight, especially among the demigods and God-Children, which often left me mildly confused. While there are designated sections at the end of the book that help put powers, tribes, and seasons into context, a greater emphasis on character relationships, histories, and abilities within the story itself would have been appreciated. That said, the characters we spend the most time with are delightfully distinct, with Mitchell revealing just enough that the reader glimpses hidden depths and is invested in their well-being. It was also interesting to see how each character cropped up in others’ sections as their stories began to intertwine.
Despite being action packed and an unexpected cliffhanger, the ending of The Mortal Blade felt abrupt. Due to the last tumultuous scenes focusing on Corthie and Aila, Daniel and Maddie’s storylines are left feeling unresolved just as major events unfold that have significant repercussions for this literary world. As a result, the reader may not have a chance to process their feelings to key plot twists.
Overall, The Mortal Blade is a quick read with a pace that doesn’t let up as Mitchell weaves together demigods, terrifying monsters, and dragons in a setting rife with political intrigue and grudges centuries in the making.
Additional Insights (Spoilers Abound):
- Where did the greenhides and The God-Queen and God-King come from a thousand years ago? Why don’t the greenhides’ numbers seem to diminish? Is there a Quadrant left open that they’re passing through? Why hasn’t Amalia done anything to remove them from this world?
- Why did Malik and Amalia separate? Was it because of the heartbreak from losing children or because they supported different sides of the Civil War?
- There are no repercussions for the bribe money Aila found under Olvin. We end up finding out where this money was coming from but I don’t recall the link actually happening.
- It was interesting how Aila is able to make people view her in a certain way. Could she employ that power to objects or other people? How has her power been able to stay a secret? Since demigods are able to use their powers on each other, why isn’t anyone more concerned about Aila finding things out or screwing up others’ plans?
- “It was stolen by the god who abducted me, but it’ll be fine.” I’m assuming we’re talking about Naxor here, having stolen the Quadrant from Karalyn, but how did Naxor get to their world in the first place? What is Karalyn’s power exactly? Will she find Corthie eventually?
- How did Karalyn protect Corthie from being affected by others’ powers? Why were they fighting Gods in their world?
- Is there really nothing outside of the city besides the greenhides? Who is controlling them?
- How many worlds are there? Four because the device is called a QUADrant?
- How do the powers work in Corthie’s world? Would Naxor have brought Corthie to the city had they known how he would flout the rules or have the unique powers he wields?
- What will happen to Tanner with Corthie disappearing?
- What would have happened to Maddie had she not had the ‘legendary’ last name of Jackdaw? As siblings go, Rosie was a positively infuriating, bratty little sister and Tom the typical older brother.
- Are Buckler and Blackrose from the same world?
- What will Blackrose think of Corthie disappearing? Will she regret not moving up the date of their escape?
- What world did Naxor and Aila escape to?
- Will Hilde really leave Maddie and Blackrose?
- Where does the salve come from? Why didn’t anyone stop Malik before he lost his mind? Who else knows about his state? What will happen when other demigods/gods discover it?
- What changes will Duke Marcus employ now that he has taken charge of the city? Will the Blades being pulled from the wall weaken the defenses from the greenhides?
- Was Khora actually killed? We didn’t actually see her body.
- Why does Amalia welcome Duke Marcus to Tara as the new prince without discussing the situation with Princess Khora first?
- As someone newly imprisoned, why is Salvor in charge of getting rid of Corthie’s body? Why didn’t Kano make sure that Corthie was actually dead first? Where is Corthie being sent that Vana won’t be able to detect him?
[…] Stage 2 of the SPFBO competition is now well underway and the Critiquing Chemist and I have been reading the finalists. Today we post our review for our third finalist The Mortal Blade (Magelands Eternal Siege #1) by Christopher Mitchell. Don’t forget to stop over to the Critiquing Chemist to check out their review. […]