THE SILVERBLOOD PROMISE by James Logan (BOOK REVIEW)
“Sometimes you owed it to yourself to do what was necessary, not what was easy.”
When a duel ends badly for Lukan Gardova he goes from being the heir to a noble house to an academic failure and turns to a life of card gambling and drowning his sorrows in wine. Then when he discovers his father has been murdered, leaving him a note containing three words written in blood, it leads him on a journey away from seedy taverns to the Mother of Cities—Saphrona. As he enters a land of diverse cultures, merchant princes, deadly politics and even deadlier monsters, he seeks for answers but instead finds himself solving a puzzle which could very well prevent a war. He’s not alone though, through many dangers by his side is Flea, a young whip-smart street urchin. Together they make quite the duo.
The Silverblood Promise by James Logan is a superb debut filled to the brim with action, adventure and a murder mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Our Lukan is immediately charming in a roguish, naïve kind of way. When he embarks upon solving his father’s murder it drives him to a city that’s both bewildering and breath-taking, he has to trust people who are more than a bit shady, and to put himself constantly in harm’s way. It quickly becomes apparent that he is out of his depth, though he may have spent several years estranged from his father, living life from one place to the next, full of anger and regret, his character still has an air of aristocracy and his tongue still gets the better of him causing him much strife. Logan cleverly sprinkles in Lukan’s inner thoughts throughout which are laced with sarcasm and wit creating a humorous side to his character. He is a skilled card player which makes him good at reading people, at playing them, Lukan’s also pretty handy with a blade, but despite this he’s still prone to things going horribly against him. Yet that’s what makes his character so loveable— I mean who doesn’t love seeing how characters wriggle out of every mess they create? I was entertained by rooting for a character who was a bit of an idiot, but ultimately I was charmed by a protagonist who finds purpose and grows.
“Swans have an undeserved reputation for elegance, but really they’re just moody bastards.’
‘Bit like you, then.’
Flea dodged his halfhearted swipe at her head.
‘The only thing that’s elegant about me,’ Lukan replied, ‘is my swordplay, and in that respect my reputation is well deserved’
‘Didn’t do you much good last night, did it?’ the girl asked, grinning at him.”
The book also has a strong cast of side characters, all of which are distinct, and for me this is a sign of a skilled author who can make even characters which appear briefly, extremely memorable. Yet there is one I know every reader will fall in love with—Flea is a young girl who survives by pickpocketing and in fact that is how she is introduced to Lukan. Flea and Lukan, at least in my opinion, share the best bantery dynamic, with Flea being Lukan’s guide turned sidekick. Who doesn’t love a good character duo? Flea may be just a child but as Lukan often observes, she’s a “smart one”, and life on the streets has left her more clued up than even he is. She rescues Lukan from more than a few scrapes and the way they tease each other brings just the right amount of mockery to keep me chuckling throughout. Another side character I was rather drawn to was The Scrivener, a master forger. Her character was the perfect amount of threatening but extremely useful to have on your side. Lukan may not have always been wise to deviate from The Scrivener’s orders, but damn those scenes were entertaining! Ashra was yet another standout character but the less you know about her, the better experience you’ll have.
“‘You think your vision for this city – this vision of might and conquest – is born of loyalty to Saphrona. Love, even. But it’s not. It’s born from fear, from a desperate need to reforge the world into a vision that you don’t feel threatened by—’”
Our tale is set in Saphrona, the central city of commerce in the Old Empire and Logan does a fantastic job of vibrantly bringing it to life. From the market, taverna’s and gambling houses to the Ebon Hand prison and the Bone Pit, where barbaric executions were held, we explore the beautiful and the dark corners of this wondrous place. It’s a city that houses wealthy merchants, the Kindred criminal organisation and street urchins alike. It’s a place where anything can be bought at a price, a place where The Lady of Seven Shadows deals out justice and it bursts with a medley of culture and beliefs. There is a gritty, corrupted feel to Saphrona but Logan manages to keep his worldbuilding from being too dark. It is a fitting place to hold a murder mystery and continuing with that mystery is the use of Phaeron relics. Here is where our magic system plays a part as each relic had magical properties and puzzle-like ways to use them, their inclusion gave vibes of Indiana Jones. There are also gleamers and The Faceless who use arcane powers, but discovering their abilities for yourself is immensely fun. Just know that Saphrona is a setting full of surprises which I loved exploring!
The Silverblood Promise deftly blends high fantasy and mystery together to deliver a tale which readers will eagerly devour. Logan perfectly balances humour, charm and intrigue to create a pure riot of a read. I can’t wait to see where the next book will lead us.
ARC provided by Ayo at Jo Fletcher Books in exchange for an honest review—thank you for the copy! All quotes used are taken from an early ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
The Siverblood Promise will be released in the UK on 25th April 2024 but you can pre-order your copy from Bookshop.org