The Exiled Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

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The Exiled Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: A fantastic conclusion to an excellent trilogy. Grimwood brings the characters you love and hate back to colourful and grisly life as tensions build towards a final climactic battle.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: April 2013
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1841498508

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Tycho is back to face the dangerous intrigue of the Venetian Court. While he wants nothing more than to spend his nights with beautiful Guilietta Millioni, when the worst winter in living memory hits the city, and Duchess Alexa's treacherous rival builds a stronghold in Montenegro and attacks Guilietta's son, Tycho must really take up the responsibility of his office as Blade.

Using all the assassin skills he learned from predecessor Atilo, and all the magical abilities he doesn't truly understand, Tycho must face the threat Alonzo is building and make the girl he loves safe once and for all. But nothing is ever easy in Venice, and though Alexa has a plan, the consequences of it might be too much even for Tycho.

Once again, Jon Courtney Grimwood brings to life the backstabbing nastiness of the Venetian Court with visceral realism. The strength of this series has always been how it immerses the reader in its world, and it continues to do so in a powerful way, bringing the chill of a frozen winter to the warmer April days I spent reading it.

The story digs a little deeper into the mythology, though always leaving an element of open-endedness, allowing the reader to form their own conclusions. But, as ever, the vampire/werewolf elements are more icing on the cake rather than a key ingredient. It's interesting that it doesn't become annoying that the mythical characters don't always take the spotlight, as they should be by far the most interesting thing, but actually they are such an intrinsic part of the world, you just sort of accept that they are there as much as you accept any other ingredient.

But it's the characters that really make this story, and Duchess Alexa is still as cold and cruel and clever as she ever was, spinning out events like the people involved are her own personal chess pieces. Giulietta's stubborn nature becomes an asset as she starts to grow into Alexa's heir in more than just name, and Marco is as interesting and unpredictable as ever.

The final climactic battle - always a good ending for a fantasy epic - was as gruesomely painted as the streets of Venice, and while the ending was perhaps a little too open to satisfy some, overall I thought it was a fantastic conclusion to a fantastic series. Thoroughly enjoyable.

My thanks to the publisher for sending a copy.

For more great fantasy reading, check out Bookbag's Fantasy Picks.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood'sThe Assassini Series in Chronological Order

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