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Seven Blades in Black

Written by: Sam Sykes
Narrated by: Daisy May
Length: 20 hrs and 29 mins
4 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed author Sam Sykes returns with a brilliant new epic fantasy that introduces an unforgettable outcast mage caught between two warring empires.

Her magic was stolen. She was left for dead.

Betrayed by those she trusts most and her magic ripped from her, all Sal the Cacophony has left is her name, her story, and the weapon she used to carve both. But she has a will stronger than magic and knows exactly where to go.

The Scar, a land torn between powerful empires, where rogue mages go to disappear, disgraced soldiers go to die and Sal went with a blade, a gun, and a list of seven names.

Revenge will be its own reward.

For more from Sam Sykes, check out:

The Affinity for Steel Trilogy

  • Tome of the Undergates
  • Black Halo
  • The Skybound Sea

Bring Down Heaven

  • The City Stained Red
  • The Mortal Tally
  • God's Last Breath
©2019 Sam Sykes (P)2019 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"Seven Blades in Black offers villains that are as memorable and unique as the heroes. Action, magic, romance and humor mingle well in this mammoth tale. It's an immersive read in a well realized world." (Robin Hobb, New York Times best-selling author of Fool's Assassin)

"By the end of the first page, you'll know Sam is in love with his characters. By the end of the second, you'll know you are too." (Myke Cole, author of The Armored Saint)

"Exciting and inventive. I never realized how much I needed wizard-hunting gunslingers in my life." (Peter V. Brett, New York Times best-selling author of The Warded Man)

What listeners say about Seven Blades in Black

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

would actually read again

really enjoyed this book. the narrator is great, and the slow reveal off the characters past throughout the book was very satisfying and made me want to go back and start from the beginning with the new perspective. which I did

1 person found this helpful

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I tried hard not to hate this audiobook, but it wasn’t easy.

The narrator is mush-mouthed and can’t pronounce many words in the English language, including anything more than three syllables long. Unfortunately some of the most frequently used names in the book, including the main character, her ‘big shit-kicking gun’, and her pet giant bird, are more than three syllables.

I got fixated on her pronunciation of ‘body’ and started to cringe each time I heard her say ‘my bowdtee’.

The author seems addicted to a couple formulaic writing devices, and he uses over and over and over and over, till you realize that the writing is just going to be the same repetitive thing right to the end.

Basically the book consists of the main character kicking ass, with her big gun. That’s it. Supposed to be like Jorg Ancrath, only not nearly as smart.

I waded all the way through to the end only to find out that it’s only the first book in a series. What? Why?

Scratching up a few positive things to say- the narrator has some potential. If she got her hands on a dictionary that would be a big help.

The author also has potential. While it’s mostly just a bunch of cliches with an incomprehensible plot, the book does have a few clever lines and ideas in it. If it could have been edited down to about 1/10 of the length it would be more palatable.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • N. Cannon
  • 2019-11-21

Need audio editor

Okay so I like the book. It’s weird and interesting and I like the voice of the narrator she really makes the story BUT I want to know why this wasn’t edited!?!? There are bunch of stupid reading errors and mispronounced words. For example the narrator repeated says “incarcerated” when she means “incinerated”. She pronounces the word debris as “deBRIS” instead of “Debree”. Maybe it’s just me but I found it irritating especially as it seemed like something that could and should have easily been corrected. I have recently found more and more errors like this. Is audible trying to get books out so fast they can’t edit them?!?

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Midwest Male
  • 2019-07-28

Started off gangbusters then fizzled

The start of the book was amazing, but the story started to wander aimlessly. I eventually started to loathe the main character. She's pretty much an over confident, inept, bumbling idiot. At some point in the book, I just stopped caring what happened to her. I completely gave up on the story after 3 consecutive encounters against vastly superior, and entirely random, foes…all of which she barely escapes and is bloodied to hell. And when I say consecutive, I mean each leads directly to the next and yet there is no relationship between the foes or events. Fortunately an equally entirely random magic healing potion that cures all wounds falls out of a wagon after the last encounter. I'm on chapter 40 and still haven't encountered an antagonist that isn't just fluff. Come on now.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Kael McDonald
  • 2019-07-15

Perfect Blend of Rule-of-Cool and Character Study

There's a small, greedy part of me that wants to never tell a soul about Sam Sykes, because I want to use all his ideas in my DnD campaigns.

Sam is an author who I consider to be part of a newer wave in fantasy - he doesn't play to the cliché of Tolkienesque elves and dwarves, of not-so-subtle colonialism that has echoed through the genre for decades. Neither does he play to the supertrend of GRIMDARK, begging to outdo the tragedies of Martin or Abercrombie.

Sam's work reliably focuses on three things: characters with deep personal problems. A grinning disregard for propriety. And perhaps most importantly, an eagerness to ask, "What if?" purely for the fun of it. Something I think writers of both the aforementioned types of fantasy would do well to reexamine.

Seven Blades in Black does exactly that, by starting with a very simple one: "What if we mashed together Kill Bill, Trigun, and Final Fantasy? Wouldn't that just take the piss?"

Sal the Cacophony's story is one immediately familiar thanks to riffing on these concepts, but through Sam's excellent world building and understanding of character becomes one very much her own. She is now one of my favorite characters of all time. Even when I hate her. Even when she hates herself.

All of this brought to vivid life by narrator Daisy May. I will admit that Daisy's heavier cockney accent made it difficult for me to understand for the first chapter or so, but damn if she isn't the best for this job. She IS the voice for Sal. I just want other potential listeners to know that it may take some getting used to early on. Some names sounded a bit to close for my ear since I hadn't personally seen the exact spelling (Galta and Calto especially come to mind, apologies if I've spelled those names wrong).

I rarely write full reviews as I always end up going on longer than I intend, but I hope that conveys to you how much I enjoyed this story and cant stand that I have to wait to read more.

See, Sam and me, he and I had a deal. He'd write the books and I'd read em, revenge for ruin. And no one will say that Kael McDonald doesn't keep his word.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Michael J. Marziale
  • 2019-08-13

Horrible narrator, bad audio quality

I'm still trying to get through the book, because the story seems genuinely entertaining. The narrator, however, is absolutely awful. Her accent is a bit difficult to understand, she trips over names, and every "S" is hissed and whistled into the microphone. The audio and narration quality make this an excruciating experience. I'd love to hear a different version of this novel, but this narrator just isn't up to par.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nate Card
  • 2019-05-11

Story and Sacrifice

Seven Blades in Black marks a step forward and an achievement in the career of Sykes as a novelist. A smart, tightly written story with compellingly human characters, 7BiB is an exciting and entertaining listen. But what makes this story so impactful is how each of its elements cohesively works together to emphasize 7BiB’s central theme: Sacrifice.

Sacrifice permeates the story: the characters, the settings, the plot, even the mechanics of this science-fantasy world all hinge on sacrifice. Many of our greatest stories use this same theme, but 7BiB strives to expand its possibilities. In addition to more common variations on this theme: sacrifice of self, body, life, time; 7BiB asks what if you sacrificed your faith? Your relationships? Your identity? When is sacrifice worthwhile? Or justified? The magic system in particular encapsulates this theme beautifully: 7BiB’s world contains a variety of types of magic users, but the universal rule is that each “style” of power has a cost that is often appropriate (or appropriately ironic) and feels very logical in this setting.

I also appreciate how Sykes approaches world-building in 7BiB. A major trapping in science-fiction and fantasy is how you introduce a reader to your completely alien world. It’s a difficult balancing act: too much exposition early on and the reader becomes bored, too little explanation and the reader is confused or lost. 7BiB is a masterclass in this concept: the world and its mechanics are revealed piecewise throughout the story as they come up, and in a straightforward manner as if the protagonist were giving the reader a tour. This actually makes a lot of sense in-story due to a clever framing device in which the protagonist is recounting her actions to someone who is only slightly less ignorant than the reader.

Despite how approachable the story is, 7BiB is also gleefully bizarre. If the prospect of Tarantino’s Kill Bill set in a science-fantasy world is not weird enough, 7BiB is also partially influenced by John Carpenter’s The Thing and even 90s role-playing video games. While listening I could almost see the dialogue appearing as white text in a blue box (if you understood that reference, you’ll have a good time with this book).

The last praise I’ll heap on 7BiB is how gratifying the story ends up being. Despite its designation as the first part of a series, 7BiB tells a complete, self-contained story that left me highly satisfied, which is so refreshing in the mercilessly serialized landscape of modern fantasy novels. Not to say that I couldn’t imagine the story of 7BiB continuing, which I would be excited to experience.

To sum up, Seven Blades in Black is smartly written, entertaining, thematically cohesive, delightfully weird (yet extremely approachable), and highly satisfying. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a rich, full story.

P.S.
May’s reading is clear, engaging, and fun to listen to. No worries there.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • joseph
  • 2019-08-13

An action movie lacking much character growth.

Kept me engaged, weak characters, nothing but one fight after another. Daisy May was good.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Quinn E.
  • 2019-04-16

truely a love letter to final fantasy

Sam Sykes master level Twitter shitposter guides you through an operatic tale of love betrayal, masks, big ass birds and bigger guns.
It is my sincere hope this one day becomes an animated series.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Shane
  • 2019-06-19

A fun listen at times, but not gripping.

The premise sounds great, and the world is seemingly fun, but I this is the first book of Sykes I have read and I think we are on different wavelengths. Every sentence is full of poetry or prose or added wit, each character, with a few exceptions, takes much longer to say what they mean than needed and overall this felt like it added length but no substance, which made it feel like a slog at times.

Overall if you're a fan of Sykes other works I would say this is probably for you, again the premise is cool, the world is interesting but it was hard to finish. That being said I'd entertain listening to a sequel if I had nothing else lined up.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-05-14

Excellent Story, Lackluster Narrator

Loved the story, characters, and world. Great steampunk fantasy. Narrator's unvaried voices detracted from experience.

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  • Megan Halstead
  • 2020-04-27

Great into into a new fantasy world

I highly recommend this book. The story is gripping. And while it took me a bit to become invested in the world, the characters are what really drive the narrative. Sal is a wonderful protagonist, complex and broken, but impossible not to love. The narration by Daisy May is top notch. Her voice is perfect for many of the scathing lines that are dripping in sarcasm. Again if you're on the fence, take the leap and become a vagrant!