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Nathan’s review of The Silverblood Promise by James Logan

The tl;dr: The Silverblood Promise will transport you to an early modern Italian inspired world full of heists, lies, coins, and magic. Quippy and sometimes wonderfully absurd, Logan’s fast and engaging pacing will keep you turning the pages without realizing 500+ pages have gone by. While this book is mostly a series of quests to solve a murder, a larger and more epic plot starts to unravel that will likely keep this series brimming. Perfect for fans of The Lies of Locke Lamora, fans of fun adventures cannot miss this one.

Cover of The Silverblood Promise

My full review:

Clever, funny, and full of adventure and heists, The Silverblood Promise will transport you to a brand new world with early modern Italian vibes that is perfect for readers of The Lies of Locke Lamora. The quips and quests will have you burning through the pages, and this book feels far shorter than its 500+ page chonkiness. I could not put this book down, and all of the fun helped cover up some of the book’s flaws.

The Silverblood Promise follows Lukan, a disgraced noble who embarks on a quest to solve his estranged father’s murder. Teaming up with a young orphaned girl, a master forger, a warrior, and more, Lukan peels back the layers of this crime, as well as confronting what he is willing to pay for the truth.

Despite all of the heists and adventures (more on that in just a second), it was the relationship between the characters that endeared me to this book. Lukan and Flea (the orphaned girl) are a fantastic duo, and Logan bounces them off each other perfectly. What starts as a relationship of who can outwit the other more actually develops some heart (although, as I talk about below, the characters could be a bit deeper).

The Silverblood Promise is a series of missions for most of its pages, and your mileage may vary based on what you like in your books. In many ways this book is structured like a video game in which the characters achieve their objectives and then are slapped with the whole “the princess is in another castle” schtick that sends them off on the next mission. This didn’t bother me in the slightest because I found the missions to be so much fun and I was on board whatever ride Logan sent his characters to next. However, if you don’t like the “bus, club, another club, another club, plane, next place” structure of some fantasy adventures, this may not be the book for you.

Having said that, there are murmurings of a bigger story just underneath the surface of these missions, and they start to appear more forcefully as the story moves forward.

As The Silverblood Promise starts to approach its final act, the more epic elements of the story come into full view. While joining along for all of the quests and heists I kept wondering how Logan was going to keep this story going beyond this single book (I don’t know how many books are planned, but this is not a standalone), and the larger political and magical machinations start to come into focus as the book comes to a close. I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that the murder of Lukan’s father was not a simple one-off event, and that international and inter-dimensional forces come into play.

Compared to other epic fantasies, Logan keeps the magic relatively reigned in. This is not low fantasy, but the world is also not bursting with magic. This means that when something magic does happening – including the quirky and unhinged Twice Crowned King (probably my favorite element of the book) or the mysterious and terrifying Faceless – you are smacked in the face with something unexpected and pretty freaking cool. This world has a softer magic system, but Logan never overextends it to give his characters a “get out of jail free card”, and there are some really fun and novel magical happenings in this book that are so cool to explore.

For me, the biggest flaw in this book is that the characters are surprisingly shallow. In many ways they reminded me of late MCU characters – they are more vehicles for sarcastic barbs than three-dimensional people. This fits in with the tone and pacing of the book, but it also robs some of the quieter moments of their emotional impact. Lukan has daddy issues and may have done some bad stuff in his past, and this informs a lot of how he interacts with the other characters in this book. This was great character development in the first chunk of the book – except that we have to hear about that same exact backstory told over and over again to different people. It makes it quite obvious that Logan has imbued Lukan with much a character beyond this one motivating trait, and it starts to drag the story down. With a fun adventure fantasy like this one I don’t need Robin Hobl levels of miserable characters, but I also didn’t need the same sad story reiterated over and over again.

If you are craving some humor and adventure in your fantasy, you can look no further than The Silverblood Promise. It’s been a while since I had so much fun and laughed so much at a book (especially since purely fantasy-comedies don’t ever really work for me) and the ending pulled back the curtain just enough that I am eager for the sequel!

Nathan

Nathan is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology where he specializes in death rituals of the Ice Age in Europe and queer theory. Originally from Ohio, he currently lives in Kansas where he teaches college anthropology, watches too much TV, and attempts to make the perfect macarons in a humid climate. He is also the co-host of The Dragonfire podcast with James Lloyd Dulin. He reads widely in fantasy and sci-fi and is always looking for new favorites!

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