Five Broken Blades by Mai Corland

A new month, a brand new exciting voice in fiction! Our most dedicated booksellers have once again surveyed the new-release landscape and have picked a standout new author to share with you all.

The debut we’ve chosen for you this month is a deception-drenched blend of fantasy and romance that combines all the best elements of a heist story with Korean myth and legend. Soaring through a heightened folkloric world, Five Broken Blades introduces us to an unforgettable ensemble of outcasts and assassins who are summoned together to amalgamate their treacherous specialities in pursuit of a common goal: to rid their land of it’s tyrannical, immortal ruler. But these five people have made their way in the world by lying and deceiving – how can they work together when each of them knows that there can only really be a single victor when their quest is complete?

The ruler of Yusan – the God King Joon – has relentlessly forged his realm into a merciless landscape in which the nobles gain wealth and power while the poor on whom they trample descend ever further into inescapable hardship. Where the poor manage to avoid being imprisoned, enslaved or sold, they have nothing to look forward to, no chance of salvation, no hope of change. The time has come for the God King to be removed. But he’s going to be difficult to get to… and only the most accomplished malefactors can possibly get the job done.

Among the group entrusted with this near-impossible task are a sellsword looking to absolve past sins, a seductive assassin looking to gain her freedom, a royal charged with the commission of singularly cruel crimes, a thief whose carefree persona hides something far darker and the spymaster pulling (or attempting to pull) all the strings. None of these people is accustomed to working with others but for the first time they must each learn to trust somebody else – knowing all the while that all any of them can ever be trusted to do is to betray. This band of broken, traumatised and twisted antiheroes will keep each other (and we the readers) on their toes as they become lustfully entangled and their murderous schemes jostle and overlap. The alliances they form on their perilous journey to the capital might feel real, but the fact is that when God King Joon is slain, only one of them can take his place. Will any one of these liars come out on top, and how can they do so without becoming the next target?

As our deadly posse approaches its ultimate goal, it’s up to us to figure out which of them is the decisive deceiver. Five Broken Blades brilliantly builds suspense and unfurls intrigue through multiple first person POVs, inviting us to unravel the ordeals and events that brought them together, seducing us with the murky motives of each vivid character. It doesn’t shrink from disturbing backstories or a dark and violent reality but, as with all the best heist stories, it maintains a fast pace throughout and is, fundamentally, a work of addictive and spellbinding fun.

The world is colourfully built, the characters are irresistible, the twists are dazzling and the secrets are abundant; Five Broken Blades is a gripping debut and a gorgeously clandestine treat.