Book Review: The Silverblood Promise (The Last Legacy, #1) by James Logan

Book Review: The Silverblood Promise (The Last Legacy, #1) by James Logan

This review is a copy of the transcript of my video review on The Silverblood Promise.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Cover art illustrated by Jeff Brown

The Silverblood Promise by James Logan

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Last Legacy (Book #1 of 3)

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Word Count: 163,000 words

Pages: 544 pages (eBook edition)

Published: 25th April 2024 by Jo Fletcher (UK) & 7th May 2024 by Tor Books (US)

Next year is not even here yet, but the potential of The Silverblood Promise becoming, at least, one of the best fantasy debuts of 2024 is guaranteed.

“You can’t escape the past, Lukan. It’s our lifelong companion, always at our side.”

I have always considered myself blessed that I’m now in a position where I often get asked to read and review fantasy and sci-fi books early. When I received the email from James Logan asking whether I would be intrigued to reveal the cover art of The Silverblood Promise and read the book early, I immediately accepted it. How could I not after seeing that gorgeous cover art by Jeff Brown? Wait until you see the full spread art later. But back to the point, the honor and opportunity to read and review an upcoming book this early is irregular for me. Remember, this email goes back to last March and April, and The Silverblood Promise is being released in April 2024. I know. It’s still 5 months before this book is released to the public. That’s also why I waited 6 months before I read The Silverblood Promise, even though I wanted to instantly. I knew from reading the premise and first chapter there was a good chance I would enjoy it. And full disclosure, I have been asked to read and review some books this relatively early a few times. But if the specific book doesn’t capture my attention enough, or maybe it is something I dislike, I usually let it sit in my TBR pile or wait until its publication date before I post a review. Luckily, The Silverblood Promise is a big hit. I had so much fun reading it, and I have faith that this debut novel will earn a spot on many future readers’ bookshelves. This is a well-paced epic fantasy debut suitable for fans of Scott Lynch, Robert Jackson Bennett, and a more hopeful Joe Abercrombie.

“You have to stand up for yourself, you understand? You can’t let someone have their way just because they were born into wealth and privilege. That doesn’t make them better than you.”

The Silverblood Promise by James Logan is the first book in The Last Legacy series, and it centers around Lukan Gardova. Lukan is a cardsharp, academy dropout, and—thanks to a duel that ended badly—the disgraced heir to an ancient noble house. His days consist of cheap wine, rigged card games, and wondering how he might win back the life he threw away. When Lukan discovers that his estranged father has been murdered in strange circumstances, he finds a fresh purpose. After seven years of running from the past, Lukan swore a silverblood promise to carry out his father’s final wish. Determined to amend his mistakes, Lukan vows to unravel the mystery behind his father’s death. His search for answers leads him to Saphrona, the fabled city of merchant princes, traders and thieves, monsters, and murderers, where anything can be bought if one has the coin. Lukan only seeks the truth, but instead, he finds danger and secrets in every shadow. For in Saphrona, where coin rules as the true god, everything has a price—and the price of truth is the deadliest of all.

“I remember the joy when the fighting finally stopped– it was thick as honey, you could almost taste it in the air. The whole city was dizzy with the thought of peace after decades of war, with the belief that our enemies across the sea could become our friends. But the world turns and younger generations forget the lessons learned by the old . . . and the wolves of greed and prejudice come slinking back from the shadows.’

As you can tell from the premise, The Silverblood Promise employs a murder mystery plotline in an epic fantasy setting. Written by a different author, I believe The Silverblood Promise could theoretically become a grimdark fantasy novel, and there is nothing wrong with that because I am an enthusiast of grimdark fantasy. However, I will let you know upfront this is not a grimdark fantasy. The city of Saphrona is ruthless, violent, and full of injustice. It treats most of its citizens poorly, and it is certainly not shy about it. The rich prosper, and the poor perish. This saying has practically become the slogan of Saphrona. But although Lukan’s quests and investigations into the mystery behind his father’s death lead him into brutal games and conspiracies he never expected, the balance between the heavy and funny moments was always deftly handled. It is a grim setting and society, no doubt about that, but the narrative never fully taps into grimdark territory. And the book is more entertaining for it. If Logan’s intention in writing The Silverblood Promise is to write something compelling and gritty while keeping the fun, humorous, and hopeful tone intact, he has accomplished his mission in full spades. And this is thanks to the charming and likeable newly formed trio.

“You might think you fight a duel with your blade, Shafia had told Lukan, the first time she’d placed a wooden practice sword in his hand. But you’d be wrong. You fight a duel with your mind, before the swords have even been drawn. A show of confidence–whether a smile, a stare, or a strut,– can sow doubt in your opponent, even fear. And that can be just as deadly as a perfect thrust or a well-timed riposte.”

Told in a third-person past tense narration, for the majority of The Silverblood Promise, Lukan dominated the story as the singular POV character. And honestly speaking, I didn’t find myself immediately attached to him in the early portion of the novel. Lukan Gardova is a drunkard. He is rude and impatient, and he likes to cut people off when they’re talking. And this cutting people off when they’re speaking is something he kept throughout the whole book. It is a part of him. But, it would be a difficult task for me to dislike him. Lukan’s heart is in the right place. He is the type of character who makes jokes in the most dangerous and inappropriate times, and more importantly, Lukan tries his best to help people—even strangers—as best as he can. His personality is one of the main reasons the book constantly felt exciting and delightful. And as I read more and more chapters, the more I felt invested in his mission and found friendship with Flea and Ashra. Especially Flea, as Lukan became an unexpected father figure for her. Even when he is reluctant to admit it to her face.

“In that moment Flea had realised that trust freely given was more valuable than any trinket she’d ever stolen. It was an almost physical presence inside her chest, lending her a degree of confidence and pride that she’d never felt before.”

Mysteries upon mysteries. There’s always another secret. Lukan’s succession of questions-raising missions has led him to form his own—sort of—group of thieves in Saphrona. The dynamic and relationship between Lukan and his newfound allies is easily the best aspect of the novel for me. I absolutely loved reading Lukan and Flea together in a scene. They’re a bloody riot entertainment, and hey, the badass and a child is one of my favorite tropes in storytelling. I know, I know. Lukan is not old. He is not a badass, too. But what I loved most about this trope is how an encounter with a seemingly random kid—usually a complete stranger—could change the trajectory of their lives. Both individuals. In the overwhelming face of fear, cruelty, and death, company and friendship (even from someone you just met) can become a beacon of hope, after all.

“Death is the great equaliser, the philosopher Volendt declared in his treatise An Unseen Philosophy, a text that Lukan had been forced to read during his first year at the Academy. A dark mistress who holds no regard for wealth, nor power, nor birthright. All souls are equal before her gaze.”

For those of you who are not familiar with this trope, here are some popular examples of the badass and a child trope. Joel and Ellie from The Last of Us or Mando and Grogu in The Mandalorian. The relationship development that can be achieved from it, when it is done right, is ceaselessly superb for me. And in that regard, the badass and a child duo trope in The Silverblood Promise was incredibly well-implemented. Lukan and Flea became a source of strength and support for one another. There was never any dull moment when Lukan and Flea were together on the same page. Their banter is hilarious, and the chemistry they found and nurtured felt genuine and easy to attach to. My enjoyment of The Silverblood Promise was clearly enhanced due to this trope. When I finished reading the novel, I felt sad that I didn’t have the sequel to read yet. I know that is probably an unfair thing to say because this book is not published officially yet. Not for almost half a year. But it is true. Flea and Ashra has only one POV chapter in this entire book, near the end, and I have a feeling that frequency will increase in the sequel. It better. And I want more amazing banter like this:

‘ . . . did it have a hundred legs?’
‘I don’t know, kid. I was too busy screaming to count.’
‘Because it hurt?’
‘No, because I was enjoying it tickling my balls.’

Once The Silverblood Promise is released and has been read by more readers, I am confident it will be recommended to readers who love Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett and The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Maybe even Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson due to the thieves aspect. And also, the relationship between Lukan and Flea can be correlated to Kelsier and Vin. Understandably. Thievery, profane language, gambling, and devilish games are integral to the plot and the city of Saphrona. The Pyramid game, in particular, is destructively painful to its players, both mentally and physically. I will let you experience that for yourself. And this is me saying I do agree with these comparisons, especially The Lies of Locke Lamora and Foundryside. But just in case, to not mislead future readers. It needs to be noted that The Silverblood Promise doesn’t feature any hard-magic system like Foundryside or Mistborn did. Phaeron magic is in charge here; it is a soft magic, and it is relatively minimal in its usage. I am sure its application and The Faceless will be more prevalent in the sequel.

“One of the first things he’d learned about gambling was that a little bravado went a long way. If you could plant a seed of doubt in your opponents’ minds, and nurture it with the appropriate words and gestures, you could force them into making mistakes.”

The world-building prospect of the world is bigger than what is portrayed here, but I couldn’t really gauge it yet because the edition I read did not have any map, and as I said, 90% of the story in The Silverblood Promise took place in the city of Saphrona. Lastly, before you ask, rest assured that there is no cliffhanger in The Silverblood Promise. Mistborn: The Final Empire and The Lies of Locke Lamora work absolutely well as a satisfying standalone novel, and The Silverblood Promise follows that similar notion. The next book will take place in a different city. Other series like The Gentleman Bastards by Scott Lynch or The Divine Cities trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett, to mention a few, did this kind of series progression magnificently. And I look forward to witnessing what kind of page-turning chaos James Logan will unleash in the next installments of The Last Legacy.

‘A few books went missing from the library… Several rare first editions, or some such. Apparently they’re quite valuable, though why anyone would waste good coin on some dusty old books is beyond me.’

Well… I crave the first hardcover edition of The Silverblood Promise. If The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch or Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett are some of your favorite books like they are for me, I cannot recommend The Silverblood Promise highly enough. Pre-order The Silverblood Promise. It is not an explosive or mind-blowing read, but if your value or preference of escapism is measured by how immersed and compelled you are by smooth-flowing prose and narrative, The Silverblood Promise will do its best to absorb your time. There were possible nods to The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie that I enjoyed reading, too, like a chapter being named The Blade Itself, Death as an equalizer quote, Brand and Balinor Banking House—which may be a homage to Valint and Balk bank from The First Law—and Flea having nine-fingers. The Silverblood Promise exhibited a gritty world with more upbeat main characters and tone taking the spotlight. It is not too far-fetched to claim this is a good alternative when you are in the mood for a more optimistic version of Joe Abercrombie’s storytelling style. From the engaging investigations, murder mysteries, dialogues, and characters you will gradually come to love, The Silverblood Promise was an exceptionally riveting and captivating fantasy debut novel. It is, indisputably, a strong candidate for the best fantasy debut of the year. With The Silverblood Promise crafted, James Logan offers readers his pinky finger with a promise that Lukan’s adventure will ensure they have a blast should they choose to read it. Whenever the sequel is ready, Korlsakov, the City of Spires, awaits me. And I hope when the time comes, you will be there with me to read the next chapter of Lukan, Flea, and Ashra’s swashbuckling adventure.

“No one chooses to be a thief, it’s something that’s thrust upon us. We just have to make the best of it.’

Picture: The Silverblood Promise by Jeff Brown

You can pre-order this book from: Amazon | Blackwells (Free International shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Silverblood Promise (The Last Legacy, #1) by James Logan

  1. Great review, Petrik! “A murder mystery in an epic fantasy setting”. Yeah, that’s exciting to say the least! I’m already sold! An amazing cover art as well.

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