One of the things that sticks with me most from Brian Staveley’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne is the amount of change and evolution seen in all the characters throughout the story. Sure, this happens fairly often in trilogies, but the scale of these changes in Unhewn Throne just felt beyond the standard: Staveley takes the three Malkeenians through the wringer, and we can see their characters evolve in line with the changing landscape and their experiences along the way.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t as blown away by the first book, The Emperor’s Blades, as some readers, but I could never deny it was an incredibly fun read. What held me back from loving it was simply that I wanted a bit more. I wanted it to be more unpredictable, I wanted the secondary characters to have more substance to them, I wanted to see more in terms of a strong female protagonist. That last one is certainly not required of books, but it is a huge plus for me as a reader. The description of Emperor’s Blades had my hopes up for one in Adare, but in that first installment she wasn’t quite there yet. Also, we really only had hints of what was involved in this world in the first book: we learned about Kettral and leaches, we learned about Annur and the Shin. But really, there was so much more to be revealed—it turned out what I really wanted was the next two books.