Read The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick Online


An ornate yet dark fantasy, with echoes of Mervyn Peake, Robin Hobb and Jon Courtenay Grimwood. An original and beautifully imagined world, populated by unforgettable characters.Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his defoAn ornate yet dark fantasy, with echoes of Mervyn Peake, Robin Hobb and Jon Courtenay Grimwood. An original and beautifully imagined world, populated by unforgettable characters.Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted - but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the 'insane' women kept in the haunting Sanatoria.Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself....

Title : The Boy with the Porcelain Blade
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780575133976
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Boy with the Porcelain Blade Reviews

  • Matthew
    2018-09-08 19:56

    A fascinating, character driven fantasy, The Boy with the Porcelain Blade is a solid debut novel from author Den Patrick. Lucien is an orphan, and one of the Orfani (all Orfani have deformities). He is lonely, and tormented by his differences despite being afforded the best education and training alongside the nobles of Landfall. But unrest is growing, and Lucien finds himself caught up in political rivalries and conflicts where he has to rely on more than just his blade to protect the ones he loves. Patrick has crafted a fascinating world in The Boy with the Porcelain Blade. Incorporating many interesting elements from Renaissance Italy (House system, fighting styles, and the fact the characters speak Italian), the author weaves an action packed tapestry that was both fun to read and unique. His multi-layered characters, who were all different and wonderful in their own particular ways, enthralled me. I was especially taken by the Orfani themselves. Their existence alone was an incredible part of this story, and their deformities and strangeness (for example they don’t have red blood) kept me glued as the story powered on and their mysterious heritage was revealed. Patrick does layer the story with clues here and there, and part of the fun in reading this book is in finding these clues. I also really enjoyed how The Boy with the Porcelain Blade was structured. The reader gets glimpses into Lucien’s past, and these events help illuminate what is happening in the present with great effectiveness. One criticism I do have however is that I wanted to learn more about Landfall and the sprawling castle of Demesne. Compared to other major releases in recent years there is a distinct lack of detail revealed by Patrick. I found myself yearning to know more, and I was extremely frustrated when my questions when unanswered by the end of the book. Patrick obviously chose to write a book focused on the characters themselves, and whilst this worked really well and I was captivated I still wanted to know more about their environment around them.All in all this was an extremely fun and vivid read. A character based fantasy with Renaissance and gothic elements woven in. A must read for fans of Lynch. I can’t wait to read the next book!4 out of 5

  • Gavin
    2018-08-27 21:10

    This story tells the tale of the Orfano, Lucien di Fontein, as he grows from a child into a young man in the claustrophobic city keep of Demesne. Demesne is ruled by a mysterious and reclusive king who has not been sighted by anyone in years and who gives his orders through his equally mysterious Majordomo. Four major houses struggle for political prominence alongside the kings favored Orfano children. Little is known of the Orfano except that they are favored by the king and suffer from strange deformities. On the orders of the King the Orfano are raised in the noble houses and treated like regular nobility. This story alternates between happenings in the present day, where Lucian is 18 years old, and flashbacks to various points in his childhood. The story is rife with political scheming and nefarious plots involving the highest members of Demensne society. It also has plenty of action and even a bit of romance.Lucien di Fontein was a likable character who was easy to root for. He was supported by a bunch of likable and interesting allies. The various villains of the story all had decent reasons for doing what they did. All in all this was a decent read that never quite managed to be as good as it threatened to be! Rating: 3.5 stars.Audio Note: Jack Marshall was a tryer, but he was not a particularly good narrator.

  • Yzabel Ginsberg
    2018-08-26 17:56

    (I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)Between "it's OK" and "I liked it", so 2.5 stars I guess. (I really wish we could give half-stars here.)I liked the premise of a Renaissance-like world, the focus on a castle that was like a city of its own, and the inner House politics. There was much potential here for intrigue of that kind, and I would've liked to see more of it—but didn't, because Lucien, while being at the heart of it, was also more of an observer or a follower most of the time. Follower of other people's wishes, or of habit, or of the plot itself. I often felt that he was submitting to, and reacting to the action, rather than making actual decisions.I also didn't know what to make of the Orfani in general. The novel was too ambiguous about them, as if unable to decide what to make of them as well. They were both privileged and rejected, considered as witchlings, but why exactly, since they didn't practice magic? It was a bit strange. Perhaps, if played a tad bit differently, it would have made more sense.The characters didn't leave much of an impression. I may have liked them if I had gotten to know them more, see them act more often within the confines of the intrigue web spun in Demesne. Stephania, for instance, seemed like a cardboard feature (her mother was worse), but I could sense a drive underneath, and I would've appreciated seeing it for longer than I did. Giancarlo was really detestable, and Golia as well, yet they were too one-sided. As for Lucien, the protagonist, he had his likeable sides; however, he was often too self-centered, and I could never fully determine if he was really gifted or kind of an idiot; if he failed because othre people made him, or if he did because he would've failed anyway. I think I actually preferred Dino, who displayed more cunning (in a good way) and resources.On the other hand, I quite liked the world itself, with its feeling of being completely isolated, and its origins that may be quite different from that of a traditional fantasy setting (if I read between the lines properly, that is). The secrets shrouding the King, and his pet project, were morbidly fascinating. I would definitely have wanted to know more about this world.

  • Ash
    2018-09-13 15:11

    Well it certainly picked up towards the end. The alternating flashback chapters didn't work for me, and the prose needed streamlining, and some of the world building early on was unneccessarily heavy-handed. The entire first half didn't know what it was doing or where it was going, which meant the second half was Great Fight Scene-Great Fight Scene-Sex Scene-Great Fight Scene-Dramatic Resolution-Denoument, with no breaks. To be honest it felt like the whole thing was trying too hard to be intelligent and literary and mysterious, and really, it just wanted to be a big dumb action-packed fantasy romp. And that's okay. It could have been a really good, quite clever fantasy romp if it'd straightened out the narrative and cut to the chase much earlier, and not tried to pretend that everyone hadn't figured out what was happening with the King and the Orfano by page 80. Wouldn't recommend, might watch the film.

  • Liviu
    2018-08-25 15:06

    very promising start followed by conventional story that lost quickly my interest; ok writing and characters, but I expected much more so overall a disappointmenta few more details on why this book doesn't work that well as fantasy - very small world, 3 persons of interest (ok maybe 20, but you get the idea) and a small group of mostly faceless servants; supposedly coming from a marooned Earth starship based on the hints and the interpretation of legends (so the small numbers, cramped society etc) but still doesn't make any sense socially, economically etc; overall reads like a virtual reality construct game against this, narrative energy that makes one turn pages, but the prose and main characters do not have that extra to fully make up for the major shortcomings above

  • David
    2018-09-21 14:08

    One of the worst, most cliched fantasy novels I've ever read. Seems to be the first work by a very young writer. I'm very surprised it was published in hardcover. Only shows how ripe the market is for Fantasy. Not a lick of talent the author.

  • Marc Aplin
    2018-09-12 16:02

    A strong 7/10I always find it weird… reading a book by someone I’ve met. I first met Den Patrick in 2012 at Fantasy-Faction’s Q & A Session with Peter V. Brett, Myke Cole and Joe Abercrombie. At that point in time, Den Patrick was the ‘events organiser’ at the bookshop (Blackwells) that was hosting the event and seemed as excited as any member of the crowd that some of fantasy’s biggest names were about to storm his store. Little did I know, at that point in time, that Den was working on his own fantasy novel; a novel that could only have been written by someone who had read widely and extensively within the fantasy genre (benefits of working in a bookstore, I guess!) and who has true creative vision.Although, as you might expect, ‘The Boy’ in the title does own a ‘Porcelain Blade’, the title’s true meaning seems to be a metaphor to describe our protagonist’s different looks, outsider status and fragile position within the environment he lives. You see, for many years, misshapen ‘Orfano’ have been showing up around the Kingdom of Landfall. These ‘Orfano’ each have some kind of deformity (anything from mutilated body-parts to extraneous poisonous spines). Far from being pitied or made redundant from society, the King has ruled that Orfano are to be recognised as ‘special’. Although where they come from is unknown, there are strict rules in place to ensure that they are taken into the shared-care of the four noble-houses.From there they will be trained to an elite level alongside other noble students and allowed to take the same tests they do in order to earn their place as a permanent member of one of the four houses. Of course, although those rules are in place, it isn’t that simple and not everyone likes them. Our protagonist, Lucien, is one of these Orfano in the process of testing to become a member of one of the houses and is far from enjoying life… Lucien recognises that with the King having been labelled insane many years ago, the nobles of the houses are free to play political games among themselves. It seems that Lucien and the other Orfano have become their favourite chess pieces and whilst some do, indeed, nurture and guide them towards possible-greatness, others work tirelessly to foil any kind of progress by disrupting their lives.It has to be said that our protagonist, Lucien de Fontein, doesn’t help himself at times. Lucien has his sights set on joining House Fontein, which is the house of the fighting arts, despite the fact that the man who hates him more than any other and openly seeks his downfall sits in one of the top positions: Superiore Giancarlo di Fontein. Although most would yield with the fact that the man responsible for testing and deciding whether you were fit to join the house despises you, Lucien is a talented fighter. He sees no reason he shouldn’t be able to take any test that the Superiore throws at him and pass with flying colours.The thing is, this means that the extent of Lucien’s life is a bitter challenge. His attempts to get better, pass and impress are consistently foiled and despite seeming the perfect candidate for the house, he is constantly lonely, made to feel self-conscious about his deformity, and well aware that he is being used as a mere pawn in a political game.The story builds masterfully from centering on Lucien’s difficulty with the trials to expanding and becoming about his place in the world as an Orfano and an exploration of the corrupt political system that has resulted from the loss of visibility of the King. Patrick uses a style most reminiscent of Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora to introduce a concept and confuse the reader in a way that they think perhaps they have missed something before going back in time to explain the origins of that concept and how it came into play.If there is one thing that has to be said about Den Patrick’s world it is that he nailed the creation of complex characters. Whereas fantasy is often criticised for containing stock characters, in Landfall you’ll find creatures reminiscent of the Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth, children who cry blood and men who harbor bodies that should have long since been buried in the ground amongst many other creations. I’ve heard Den admire Gormenghast before, stating that: ‘Just about all of the characters are grotesques, initially awful, settling into weird, and then oddly likeable’ and he should be proud how close to this he got. Additionally, each of the characters within the world of Landfall are unique individuals; all, but especially the Orfano, having to play their own games and make their own struggles within the corrupt political system… this forces you to constantly question who is working with, against and independently of Lucien.Sadly, there were a number of issues that disrupted my ability to immerse myself fully within Patrick’s world. To take it back to bare bones, in order to keep a reader’s interest and allow them to read rapidly and without pause I feel that you need consistency and there were a few areas of Den Patrick’s work that either lacked or had too much of it. Firstly, although the content of The Lies of Locke Lamora was very good, the problem I had was that Lucien’s way of speaking and addressing never seemed to change in a way that was appropriate for his age. It seemed like the modern-day Lucien simply transported back in time and that was a little jarring. That said, Lucien did change throughout the course of the novel, but again it was in a jarring manner. I found that Lucien’s confidence often boiled-over into arrogance, so much so that at times I had trouble liking him and even began to understand why his superiors would loathe him and wish to stop him entering into his house.Similar to this I did find that as inconsistent Lucien was, my understanding of the world was. The novel has a very gothic feel to it; think of something like Dracula crossed with Pan’s Labyrinth and you won’t be too far away in terms of tone. But then there are times when the book reads more like Lord of the Rings or The Gentleman’s Bastard series. I do remember reading an interview where Den said: “I had some ideas but couldn’t find the story that linked them.” So I wonder if perhaps this would explain that feeling. It is nice to have variety, but in many ways this book felt like a new author trying to find his feet and decide upon the kind of book he’d like to write.My final issue with the novel is the lack of claustrophobia and atmosphere that Den Patrick is able to drum up. I can’t go into too much detail, but when a HUGE and deadly problem stands in Lucien’s way he seems to shrug it off and walk straight into it and then through it without much concern. Because this is such a slim book, part of me wonders whether Den cut a lot of words out and/or simply sacrificed a build-up full of danger and suspense for progress.All this in mind, it is important to drive home the point that this is Den’s first novel. I do feel that by the end of the book Den had firmly locked on to what he wanted to achieve with this series and where the series will go from this point forth. If you are looking for a novel that will treat you to a dance across numerous genres, from sword-fighting to epic to flat out weird, this series gives you a little bit of everything. Lucien is a character that you may struggle to love at first, but who remains, throughout the novel’s entirety, interesting and multilayered. Although Patrick’s depiction of Lucien across the timelines disrupted my reading somewhat, the actual building of the plot and masterful way that the author uses the flashback technique to construct, enrich and unfold his story is highly rewarding and will provide an ending that you are unlikely to see coming.In a recent interview Den explained that the second book is told by a new viewpoint character (who we did meet in book one) and will be set eight years after this tale. Despite having mixed feelings about The Boy With the Porcelain Blade, if you ask me whether I’ll be picking up book two I can offer you an emphatic ‘yes’.

  • Amanda Setasha Hall
    2018-09-21 15:01

    This book was a collected mess.Every other chapter is a flashback - and that bothered me more than anything else.Lucien passes out a LOT.Nothing actually happens plot wise until about page 160 (halfway through the book).The descriptions of EVERYTHING is completely unnecessary.However, despite all that, I think I'll actually give the second book a chance. The second half of the book - the chapters set in the present - are actually quite good. They got my interest back into it, and by the end of the book I felt like I was part of the story.I wanted to rate this book higher, but I just couldn't do it over that dreadful first half.

  • Jasper
    2018-09-19 15:55

    originally posted at: Boy with the Porcelain Blade is another big debut release this year. So far 2014 has treated me well with several debuts. Gollancz has been steadily feeding the media with more and more information about this book and it has gotten me psyched about it. The Boy with the Porcelain Blade is written by Den Patrick, who has been an comic book editor, bookseller and has worked at Games Workshop. With such a background The Boy with the Porcelain could only turn out to be an awesome read, have you looked at the synopsis!? I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by many features that were shown in The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, Den Patrick paints his characters and world with delicate strokes. The story in The Boy with the Porcelain Blade is told from the perspective of the main protagonist that of Lucien de Fontein who is an Orfano. This of course translates into the English as an orphan, but not Lucien's background is perhaps a bit more complex than your typical orphan. Lucien and a few other are termed Orfano and they all share one thing in common, hideous disfigurements or deformities that set them apart from the other characters in the book, Lucien for example doesn't have any ears and he when he bleeds it isn't red. There are also other features such as poisonous spines an your arm, as well as an orfano who is brilliantly smart but cant talk. In the beginning I did find it hard to accept that yI just had to deal with them being Orfano, this aspect was very intriguing and interesting especially when you see how it influences each of the Orfano, they struggle with every day life and acceptance. Luckily later on in the book you start to learn more and more about this. The focus of the story is mostly on Lucien himself, as you have a present storyline alternated with a storyline taking place in the past, that shows just how difficult a life Lucien has when navigating through a treacherous world. Den Patrick starts his story with Lucien who is about to start the trial that will, if he wins, grant him a place in the ranks of House Fontein. Lucien is skilled with his blade and carries with him an ever fragile porcelain blade, that only true swordmasters are able to wield and win battles with. In winning this trial, Lucien is all of a sudden confronted by, you might say, one of his arch enemies of House Fontein Giancarlo di Fontein who changes the rules for his last duel, they have to be to the death and at one point he shatters Lucien's delicate blade. Thereby igniting Lucien's passion in a flash of rage and Lucien does something unforgettable that in the end also shatters his one and only dream and there is nothing left for Lucien has to flee. This is only the start of the book and after several revealing from the past storyline you get to see that Lucien has been navigating through a thick political web all his life and that he is starting to broach and put one and one together until there is only one inevitable encounter remaining...Character wise I found that Lucien was a well constructed and interesting character to read about. Of course this is owed to the fact that he is an Orfano, which marks him as special. But when you look further than this and relate all the past events that Lucien has gone through, you can see why he acts the way he does. He questions his existence. He is smart, and mostly takes in every action, ponders it and reacts. But there are also the scenes in which Lucien doesn't think about his actions but acts on his emotions. It's part by these traits that I found his character very likeable, he might not seem human on a few fronts but does react that way. Lucien has and still is constantly bullied by one of his fellow Orfano and one Superiore of House Fontein, but Lucien knows he is good and gladly takes on any challenge that is thrown at him. Lucien might come over as a very confident young boy, but I think deep down he just wants to be accepted and gain the acknowledgement that he deserves, thereby putting on a bit of an "face" to show that he is confident, but deep down we all know a different tale. Besides Lucien there are a few different characters that you get to meet along the way, many of them are fellow Orfano like Anea the clever girl, DIno the boy that cries blood tears and Golia the bully who has poisonous spines on his arms, but also the Majordomo of the King. These secondary character did take a place in the background of the story but they all feel well developed, their lives are closely intertwined with that of Lucien. I was impressed with how layered Den Patrick made Lucien's character especially as you came to understand more and more of the dynamics of the world, the political game that was played only further build on Lucien character. Some of you might think what terrible faith has struck these Orfano? Lucien has deformities and the other Orfano's as well, how, what, why and how did that happen. Well this part isn't really clear, like I mentioned in the beginning you have to accept it for what it is. In this Den Patrick played a terrific game with my thoughts, everyone who reads about this aspects and the world of Landfall itself will start to wonder how this all came to be. The Boy with the Porcelain Blade has some scary, eerie and grotesque scenes that make this book for me one-of-a-kind, there are bound to be other books that might have used this element, but I haven't read them so what Den Patrick has done to his story made me very excited and part creeped out by the vividness in how it was all told into the fine detail. I still got this picture in my mind of Dino crying. Likewise what I have said in the parts above, these deformities really helped shape the characters, it's though for them to live with it but makes them and the story hauntingly captivating. Added to this were my thoughts on the world itself, from several of the words used in the story, you can make out that there is a definite medieval Italian influence going on, but not directly falling into a setting like the Three Musketeers, Den Patrick cleverly build up his world from different elements blending them nicely into an interesting setting, the ending even felt a bit sci-fi for me. It did feel that the story was centered around more on the characters than the world itself, there might have been a compromise between world building and building the characters, I do have to say that Den Patrick still impressed me with his interesting world and it did feel like I learned a lot. This was owed to the fact that Lucien's story was also told with flashbacks and this is the part where a lot of the dynamics were shown. Very neatly done. With The Boy with the Porcelain Blade Den Patrick shows that he has a vivid imagination that he bring to show in many different sometimes bright and often darkened colors. He is of to a good and solid start with The Erebus Sequence. There might be a bit of a small pacing issue with the flashbacks that could have transitioned smoother, but this is a minor detail and the rest of the story was just pretty amazing for me. Amongst many of the existing fantasy book currently published Den Patrick makes an original and exciting entrance. The characters are well executed and fleshed out that you, as soon as you read about them, will grow attached too. This especially comes to show by what tough and corrupted world they live in. I am definitely in for more stories set in this intriguing world, Den Patrick is off to a good start, a true gem in the making!

  • Atlas
    2018-09-04 15:02

    Vanity is always the first casualty of survival* * *3 / 5 I picked up The Boy With The Porcelain Blade from the library on a whim, mostly because the cover was nice and the title sounded a bit intriguing. For the first half or so I was rather underwhelmed, annoyed partly by constant switching back and forward in time and partly by the arrogant main character, Lucien. But slowly the book started to grow on me as the characters got fleshed out more and the action started building momentum. "You'll marry me Lucien. You'll marry me if you want to live. And you'll help me teach my mother a lesson. What you do at night is your own concern, but I will want an heir at some point, so try not to catch anything"Lucien is an Orfano, part of a group of people that are born with a specific set of deformities: black nails, poisonous spines, fleshy growths. They are the King's favoured, allowed to train with the best swordsmen in the city and under the tutelage of the best of the professore, but shunned by most of the people of Demesne due to their appearance. We meet Lucien as he undertakes his 18th birthday trial to become a man of the house of Fontein. He is arrogant, hot-headed, and brash, and I disliked him almost immediately. Eight pages later we zip backwards in time to nine years previously to meet a much more likeable eight year old Lucien. The book continues in this manner, flipping forwards and backwards every ten or so pages.As you might have noticed, The Boy With The Porcelain Blade is set in some sort of quasi-Italian Renaissance setting. As far as I can tell, it is entirely fictional whilst adopting some of the language, clothes, and etiquette of that period. It's a bit hard to tell because the setting is so vague and whilst it gets clearer as the book progress, the details still remain murky. There's a land with one major city, Demesne, ruled over by a King who is about three hundred years old and is under the grasp of the Majordomo, a character of dubious allegiances and dastardly plots. There are four major houses: Fontein, Prospero, Erudito, and Contadino, each roughly based around different professions and character traits."Lady Anea Erudito wishes it to be known that the next person to use the word strega will, and I quote, "have their fucking head cut off"."The plot starts off slowly, interrupted by the all the backstory, and initially focuses around Lucien's expulsion from Demesne. Yawn. It was boring and tedious and I was much more interested in the backstory because Lucien there is about ten times more likeable and interesting. The prose is also quite dense, with lots of details and confusing titles that make the beginning quite hard to get through. It was only after halfway through, when Younger Lucien was about sixteen and catching up to Older Lucien, that everything really picked up for me. It is such a shame that it took so long because I had almost given up by this point, when all of a sudden I was turning pages like there was no tomorrow.What exactly improved? There were a few things. Firstly, the plot veers sharply into a mystery and is intriguing. I had a couple of notions about what was going on and turns out I was completely off course. A lot more politics and intrigue was developed alongside the lopping off of heads. Secondly, Lucien became a whole lot more likeable, mostly helped along by the backstory. I sympathised with his hot-headedness rather than being thoroughly irritated by it. Thirdly, the secondary characters become far more interesting, developed, and actually had stuff to do."Why can't you be more like him? He's got a nice suit. He's got a drake on his shoulder. He's got a sword cane. Really, Lucien, you've let the side down. This getting-thrown-into-the-oubliette business is beneath you"I grew to love Anae and Dino, two of the other Orfano. Anae is slightly younger than Lucien and is mute; she writes notes and always wears a veil. Around her age is Dino, who keeps a drake as a pet, is adorable in a little suit, and carries a sword cane. He also swears explicitly and hilariously for a twelve year old. Then there's Virmyre, one of Lucien's teachers, equal parts stern professor and hilarious drunkard and father figure to Lucien. Opposing this close knit gang is the Majordomo. He's a fabulous character because he's so morally grey; I really wasn't sure where his interests and allegiances lay until quite far on in the book. The Boy With The Porcelain Blade requires a bit of work to get to the rewarding parts. I was interested, then bored, then more bored, and then all of a sudden I was laughing aloud and invested in the characters and the plot. I will be picking up the sequel and I hope it continues in the vein of the end of The Boy With The Porcelain Blade. Read this review and more on my blog:

  • Phee
    2018-08-25 18:20

    Right. This sounded so interesting from the blurb. And to be honest the first few chapters weren’t bad. However. For me it ended up being a complete mess. I’m not in any mood to write a review so what I’ll say is this. Every other chapter is a flashback. Such a big pet peeve of mine. The plot doesn’t really get moving until about halfway through and all the characters and their names confuse the hell out of me. It’s got some Italian influences that’s for sure, which is different and quite nice. But nothing is explained! You can’t give the reader a deformed race of people and keep everything all mysterious. I want details. Not to be thrown in the deep end and trying to stay afloat. As I said, I’m in a bad mood and maybe that’s why I feel the way I do. I don’t care enough to write a full review. But regardless, I’m not continuing with this series.

  • Denise
    2018-09-08 20:03

    Swordplay, feuding families, bloody vendettas, dark and supernatural secrets, all of it set in a pseudo-Renaissance world... I'm usually a sucker for anything that comes with these ingredients, but in this case, despite the fact that I liked the concept and the world itself, the book just failed to pull me in. The writing is overly descriptive to the point of becoming immensely tedious. Some detailed descriptive passages to bring the world alive are necessary, but when almost every single sentence is weighed down by an overabundance of adjectives describing absolutely every last detail of everything, I just want to yell "Whatever, just get on with the story!". Additionally, I just found the protagonist terribly unlikable - I assume we're meant to feel sorry for him, but he's just a rash, spiteful, idiotic little asshole most of the time and I just didn't care about what happened to him or any of the other characters.

  • Gary
    2018-08-24 12:53

    Terrific book! Mervin Peake meets Jon Courtenay Grimwood. What more can I say? Read it.

  • Blodeuedd Finland
    2018-08-23 15:16

    Now what to call this one? Most of the action takes place in a castle, like 95% of the book (makes me think of Mervyn Peake). There is somewhat of a Gothic Darkness over the whole castles area. A king who no one sees and who seems to be immortal. People going missing and of course the Orfanos. The king has ordered that they should be treated well so they are all in "school". Some of these Orfanos are very deformed while some like Lucien got lucky, he has no ears, but it ends there. They, the nobles, and everyone really have their own intrigues and lots of backstabbing going on here.The whole fantasy feel is also different. The world is Italian of a sort, but then some names and myths are mentioned. It made me think that a bunch if Italians got on a ship and got ship wrecked on a mythical island. And there they are stuck, for all time and we can't find them. And island of their own horror.The book is told through flashbacks of his life growing up and the tests he had to take. And present time when he gets into trouble. The end is open in a way, it has a conclusion for him, but I do wonder about what happens next.I liked it. At first I was not sure about the flashbacks cos I really wanted to know what would happen to Lucien, and not see what happened before. I do hate waiting.

  • Nina
    2018-08-27 19:55

    Personally, this book was hard to follow up, not because the story was bad (it's actually interesting, if you're into Italian Renaissance, plots, schemes, betrayals, and all those feudal goodies) but for the way in which is narrated. I've seen some reviews pointing out the same thing: the unnecessary descriptions of irrelevant situations, people and objects; all the flashbacks that get you more confused instead of reveling key parts of the story; the conflict that doesn't develop until the last pages of the book. On the other side, I enjoyed the characters and the overall idea, and since I already have the second and third books, I'll give them a try.

  • Milo (BOK)
    2018-09-04 16:55

    Probably more of a 3.5. Some strong moments, but I've read better debuts. I've also however, read much worse.

  • Rinn
    2018-09-05 17:17

    DNF at page 145. It's not a bad book, it's just that I got that far through and realised I'd barely taken anything in, just can't focus on it at all.

  • Fredrik
    2018-09-19 14:11

    Pretty neat coming of age story with shades of The Tempest. Also swordplay, violence and harsh language.

  • Paul
    2018-08-31 21:00

    The main narrative follows Lucien as he finally confronts enemies who have been hounding him for his entire life. Lucien’s journey from early childhood to adulthood has been fraught with danger. The Orfano, orphans, live a privileged existence, but there are those who would gladly see Lucien and the rest of his kind removed. Interspersed with the main action, alternating chapter’s flashback to key events during Lucien’s formative years. You quickly get insight into the trials and tribulations that all the Orfano face on a daily basis. I liked Lucien, he’s a fascinating character. Driven by an inquisitive nature, he can’t help but get caught up in all manner of scrapes. He’s lived his entire life as an outsider, ostracised by many, and the loneliness that permeates his character also generates a grim determination within. He longs to find a place where he can fit in, where he will be accepted as he is. His inner strength is almost palpable and he needs to draw upon it when he comes to the realisation that there is something very wrong at the core of Landfall. Every good protagonist needs an arch-nemesis, and for Lucien that adversary is the Majordomo. Portrayed as the living embodiment of the word secretive, he appears and disappears without warning. There is something delightfully sinister about his character and all his furtive actions. I’m sure we can all agree anyone who hides their appearance under heavy robes is very probably up to know good and needs keeping an eye on. The relationship between these two is like a never ending game of chess. Lucien becomes almost entirely consumed with trying to second guess what his opponent’s next move will be. I’d be lying if said I didn’t want to discover more about the Majordomo’s origins. Revelations that are uncovered later in the plot deliver just as many additional questions as they do answers. Patrick’s writing deftly captures all the small, seemingly insignificant, details of Landfall and its myriad inhabitants with an expert eye. From the evocative architecture of the city to the opulent design of Lucien and the other Orfano’s outfits. You can’t beat a good frock coat or a cravat. There is a wonderful sense of completeness about it all. Elements like this are a nice referential nod to the novel’s faux Venetian setting. It’s only when you step back, and look at everything as a whole, that you can properly appreciate that these little details are actually all incredibly important. The best part? The verbal and mental sparring going on between all the different characters, sometimes in jest while in other moments deadly serious. Under the thin veneer of civility and manners that exists in this society there are a whole host of dark plots and schemes just waiting to be uncovered. At first glance a character can appear charming, well-educated and without malice but it turns out they’d happily stab you in the neck as soon as look at you. I love the thought that I could re-read conversations in this book and with the experience of hindsight whole new interpretations could be taken from what is said. The thing to remember? It’s not just a blade but also a choice word that can cause damage in Landfall. My only minor quibble, and assure you it is very minor, is that in certain respects it does feel a little like this novel is just an introduction to something much larger. Thinking about it that’s not really a bad thing I suppose. I was just little disappointed that there wasn’t more. It feels like the plot has only just begun. By books end Lucien’s character is certainly firmly established, I hope that future novels in The Erebus Sequence manage that same level of detail for the some of the others.As an aside, and in a weird moment of synchronicity, I found myself reading a big chunk of this novel while listening to the Assassin’s Creed IV soundtrack. It honestly couldn’t have fitted the mood of the writing better. It’s a suitably rousing album and is a perfect counterpoint to the tensions of Lucien’s story. The Boy with the Porcelain Blade most definitely has a swashbuckling vibe running all the way through it, so it’s hardly a surprise. As I read on, I was reminded of the best from historic action and adventure, from The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo to the gothic grandeur of Gormenghast. Patrick manages the trickiest of tasks, he tips a reverential nod to all these classics but also manages to craft something that is uniquely his own.Overall, I’ll happily admit that I’m impressed with this debut. There is plenty of action, whole heaps of delicious intrigue and a couple of subtle suggestions that there is something much larger afoot. I have my suspicions about one or two of those elements, and I look forward to finding out if I’m thinking along the right lines or not. I’d heard nothing but good buzz surrounding this book before reading and now that I have, I find I’m inclined to agree.If you enjoy your buckle being swashed with a healthy side order of conspiratorial plotting this could well be the book for you.

  • Elliott Hill
    2018-09-08 19:07

    I have generally mixed feelings about The Boy With the Porcelain Blade, in one sense there were some great ideas that I really liked but overall I just think the execution was lacking something meaning the the book never really feels more than just the sum of its interesting but not fully explored parts.The book follows Lucian de Fontein throughout both his early years as an Orfano and a few crucial days of his early adulthood. As an Orfano, Lucian is effectively an outcast in Demesne, an incredibly powerful, important outcast but his deformities / mutations set him and the other Orfano apart from the rest of society. Supposedly Lucian and the other Orfano are part of the political games of the 4 major houses that make up Demesne. These houses effectively control one part of Demesnes society (Military, Agriculture, Manufacturing and Knowledge). Apart from a brief mention towards the end of the book this political game was more implied and I never really felt wrapped up in it or actually cared, it felt more like petty rivalries rather than big political clashes.Firstly the good bits, I liked the style and setting of Demesne, the Italian inspired setting and themes were very refreshing and made a nice difference from the more standard European medieval setting. Den Patrick writes some great action sequences in various parts of the book that really kept me tense and actually had me wanting to read on. Parts of the book are incredibly dark in nature and were fascinating to read, I felt these parts were the best parts its just a shame they came later in the book.One of the issues that I did have with the book is that throughout it Lucien often feels like a passenger in the novel rather than a protagonist. He seems to be forced into doing whatever it is he is going rather than being the driving force behind his own actions. In some ways this works giving Lucien a sense of urgency in some situations but it makes it hard to get to know him as a character as you don’t get a sense of his real motivation outside of solving the immediate problem. When he does get a chance to give you his motives they sometimes feel slightly forced, for example “Why would you like to join a House rules by people you’re personally conflicting with?”, “Because its what I’ve always wanted”, as a reason you never really know why Lucien wanted to join the house, only its what he’s always wanted. The story itself it told alternating between past and present, with the past chapters working linearly up to the present. This works mostly throughout the book, however sometimes parts of the sections seem to be filler just to have a break before the next chapter with the real content. Perhaps a more linear narrative or less rigidity to swapping would have helped. When the alternating worked it worked very well though, with hints about what is to come in subsequent chapters increasing the tension up to and during those chapters. Personally though I may have opted to start the present section of the book slightly before it did as both past and present sections build up in tension and action and it can lead to a slightly slow start. Starting earlier would have build a bit of intrigue on which to kick off the present section of the book. But hey I’m not a writer and that would have probably come with all sorts of issues. Overall I think I enjoyed Boy With the Porcelain blade and it definitely improves around the half way or two third mark to finish very strongly however it never really reaches the greatness that it might possibly have done. I'd say the start of the book is a solid 3/5 moving up to a solid 4/5 throughout the book. A solid 7/10 overall, unfortunately on a scale out of 5 I'd have to fall on the 3/5 rather than opting for a 4/5.

  • Charles
    2018-09-12 14:50

    I gave this a 5-star rating not because it’s perfect but because I enjoyed it so much. 4 1/2 maybe is more realistic, but it's not a 4.Full totally balanced non-subjective review here

  • Pip
    2018-08-30 16:10

    Ravens, Ravens everywhere~~~Honestly, this book was pretty good but it just had a few things that really irked me. This book sounded right up my street. Fantasy novel with Lucien, the vainest asshole protag I've ever had the pleasure of reading, with an interesting blade and whenever 'a political game' is added to the mix you know you're gonna get a conspiracy (all be it a weird one). The writing was beautiful, it was so poetic and flowed so well which was definitely a highlight. I just hated how it kept skipping between now and back into his past. When you're in the middle of a battle chapter and really want to continue with what will happen next but then you're taken back to when he was 13, watching his lizard give birth. I don't care! Please just get back to the action! Some of them did give insight into what what happening in the present but it just took you out of the action and felt jarring. I found myself putting the book down and not touching it for a while because I knew I'd be in the middle of something going wrong at La Festa. I just wanted to get back to the fighting to be honest and it made it a slow read.This book also needed a glossary. Sure, the 'Great Houses of the Diaspora' was interesting but I didn't really use it. Some words were easily recognisable but songs in Italian and 'porca miseria' which was a favourite phrase and forced the cast to 'curse' this and 'curse' that and 'curses' the other. Please just swear for christ sake. (view spoiler)[ Lucien felt the 'velvet slickness of her sex envelop him'. I'm sure you can manage. Also, why was this needed?! (hide spoiler)]I'm having a hard time thinking about if I'd recommend it to anyone even though I did give it a four stars. I can only say give two chapters a try. The writing is great and at least it's not duel narrative.

  • Sean
    2018-08-23 17:57

    The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick follows the coming of age of Lucien di Fontein in the city of Demesne in the Kingdom of Landfall. Lucien is one of the Orfano, mysterious orphans cursed with unusual physical characteristics, Lucien blood is clear but turns blue after it has bled out while another Orfani has spines on his forearms for example, but the Orfani are raised within the nobles house and treated as nobility on the Orders of the King.The title comes from the fact that Orfani are not allowed to wield a steel blade until they come of age, before that they are restricted to -still lethal- porcelain bladed weapons. The story is told in chapters alternating between 'now' and chapters showing how Lucien's grew up and how it shaped his view of the world, while this occasional breaks up the action it does cause the story to unfold in an interesting fashion without overwhelming the reader with background information.The city is very Italianate in style -and the characters curse in Italian- with a dark Renaissance feel to the technology and society, vendettas and rivalry for status dominates the relationships between the noble houses. And very dark secrets are hidden behind the facade of Demesne, secrets that Lucian is drawn into and must confront in order to survive. It is a good read, though there is some issues with pacing due to the chapters alternately switching from present to past, with interesting characters and a compelling plot. The story resolves completely but sets up the characters up nicely for future stories (which makes sense as it is the first of a series).

  • Krista
    2018-09-21 17:55

    DNF.Holy unnecessary adjectives, Batman!I knew before the end of the first page that this book was not for me. Seriously, just read this:"The looking glass reflected a man-child of eighteen summers, a grave expression etched onto his face. He had polished his knee-length boots to an impressive shine, the deep brown leather worn and sturdy. The buckles had been buffed to a honey-coloured gleam. His trousers and frock coat were of a blue so deep as to be mistaken for black in poor light. He was particularly taken with the fine embroidery on the lapels, a repeating motif of vines and leaves. The buttons had been made from shark teeth on his insistence."THAT WAS ALL ON THE FIRST PAGE (and a little bit of spillover onto the second page). And it carries on like that.Come on, man. Why are you waxing poetic about boots and buckles on the bloody first page?! I tried to carry on, but everything is so stilted - the dialogue and descriptions and language - it's like the author took every clichéd fantasy novel from the past 10 years, mashed them together, and this travesty was the result.What really annoys me is that I bought this book because it's compared to The Lies of Locke Lamorra - one of my all-time favourite books - on the cover. Lies! All lies! The first page of Locke Lamorra has words like "shit-flinging little monkeys" on it, and it certainly doesn't mention the most boring details about clothing known to humankind.I paid almost £10 for this book so I'll probably try to get through it at some point in the future, but for now it's getting buried at the bottom of my bookcase where it belongs.

  • Mercutio
    2018-09-05 18:20

    With all the publicity surrounding this book comparing it to Robin Hobb and Mervyn Peake, I was so excited to read this book. I was sorely disappointed. Hobb and Peake both accomplish the difficult task of making a teenager an interesting hero, with enough depth for a reader to want to follow and watch grow and change. Lucien is the complete opposite of this, coming across as an shallow and paper-thin angsty teenager more obsessed with the ornate details of his clothes and desperately thinking up sub-smart one line put downs than the world around him. It’s an impossible task to hang an entire book from the shoulders of a sulky glib teenager and reads like an angry high school fantasy diary. The book is overloaded with equally thin and uninteresting characters, and some pretty depressing female cut-outs. We have the sexy bored housewife and identical sexy daughter, the mumsy cook and foxy maid from the wrong side of the tracks. The action plays like a straightforward video game with most of the second half consisting of different levels of boss fights.The lead character perfectly sums up the book - shallow, showy, soulless and not nearly as smart as it thinks it is. A pseudo-intellectual sub-Twilight wrapped in an Assassin’s Creed cloak. Don’t be taken in by the marketing.

  • StPaul Herrmann
    2018-08-26 21:07

    A cool fantasy story -- full of interesting characters and a storyline which is NOT always predictable.The familiarity parts of the setting seem to have actually lead the reader all the quicker into a world the secret of which is not as obvious as it seems.The story drew me inafter a short while and kept me reading on chapter by chapter, towards an end which only on the first glance is expected.Entertaining, and the right balance of background, wits and plain action.Recommended.

  • Frith
    2018-09-05 17:13

    Completely ridiculous and inconsistent characterisations, and "mysterious" worldbuilding which gives everything away in the third chapter and then continues to pretend it hasn't. This only contributes to how dense the protagonist appears, as he's never able to grasp really obvious clues until the narrative has beaten him over the head with them for several pages. Unfortunately, that isn't much fun to read.

  • Adam Parker
    2018-08-23 20:09

    Such a terrible book! I struggled to the end, even though the exceptionally badly edited flashbacks make it close to unreadable. Populated by paper thin characters, headed by a whining fashion obsessed teenager. A quick Google search of the author revealed that his literary agent is also his fiance (how classy), offering the only possible explanation as to how this book was ever published.

  • Fayley
    2018-09-18 16:54

    I can't put my finger on why I didn't completely love this. I should have, "talented youth grows up and changes the status quo", it's right up my alley. Maybe it was all the flash backs slowing the story, or maybe it just all seemed so unlikely.

  • Lucia
    2018-09-09 15:20

    I listened to the first chapter and I already hate the main character and the way it's narrated, I doubt I'll pick this one up later. It's a shame because the cover is beautiful and the title sounded promising.