Celestaine is one of a group of heroes who managed to defeat the evil demigod known as the Kinslayer, at the end of a Lord of the Rings-style titanic conflict that managed to – briefly – unite humanity in common cause. But with the war now over, Celestaine is struggling to find purpose and meaning. Adventuring and demigod-killing skills aren’t really much in demand these days, and all the heroic ballads in the world won’t help someone who is feeling out of place in the world. So she takes a commission to help undo some of the damage caused by the Kinslayer – to find a magic item that might be able to heal a race of winged people who literally had their wings pulled off by the Kinslayer.
Redemption’s Blade is the first in a series of novels set in a shared world. As the first one released, Tchaikovsky gets to set much of the world-building, which he has clearly relished doing. This is a world filled with races, places, gods and monsters – and an awful lot of magical relics about the place. It’s a great set-up for other writers to explore, and Tchaikovsky uses Celestaine’s quest to help set the scene.
It’s a novel written with great wit, by someone with a deep knowledge of fantasy tropes. For example, Celestaine owns a magic sword of infinite sharpness, that she was given by another demigod and used to kill the Kinslayer. But it’s a pain to carry around, because of the risk you might accidentally cut your own leg off, wears through scabbards incredibly quickly (even ones made from dragon skin) and needs a whole different fighting style (parries don’t really work if your sword cuts through everything).
But it’s also refreshingly believable about what happens next after an epic fantasy conflict. There are refugees, attempts to rebuild in the rubble, famine and shortages, polluted land and people seeking to profit from the misfortune of others. The human races have fallen back into their usual suspicion and bickering. And Tchaikovsky addresses the problem of what you do with the orcs after the Battle of the Black Gate. Prejudice is rife, but even the Yorughan exploited by the Kinslayer deserve the chance to move on and find a way to live productive lives.
Goodreads rating: 4*