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Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #1.5

The Last Abbot of Ashk’lan

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LOOK OUT! Everything that follows is a spoiler for The Emperor’s Blades. If you haven’t read The Emperor’s Blades, this will spoil it. It’s wicked spoilery. If you read it, and it spoils it, don’t blame me. I told you it was a spoiler. There. That should have given you enough time to back out.

A word from the author:

The funny thing about big novels is that you can’t follow all the characters. The protagonists get full screen time, of course, but there are dozens of minor characters populating a novel, characters with lives, fears, hopes, and stories of their own who just… disappear the moment they leave the ambit of the lucky few. This seems a shame. Fortunately, it’s a problem with a solution, and this story is an attempt at that solution—if only in a small way for one single character.

I loved writing Akiil, Kaden’s thieving friend at the monastery, and I needed to know what happened to him during the slaughter at the end of The Emperor’s Blades; after all, last time we see him, he’s going about his business, and then the soldiers arrive, killing everyone in sight. Did he make it? Did he die heroically? Did he sell out his monastic brothers?

The only way to know a thing about a character, at least for me, is to write it, and so I wrote this tale—“The Last Abbot of Ashk’lan.” It answers some questions. It asks a lot more. If nothing else, it reminds me that all of my characters, even the most minor, are crying out for their own pages, their own triumphs and failures, their own stories. Here is one.

20 pages, ebook

First published January 13, 2015

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About the author

Brian Staveley

24 books3,975 followers
I live on a long dirt road in rural Vermont where I divide my time between mountain biking with my son, trying to play piano music that is far too difficult for me, running trails, doing laundry, splitting wood, thinking I really ought to wash the kitchen floor and then not, cursing at the pie crust for sticking to the surface, drinking beers with friends out by the firepit, and sometimes trying to write books.

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5 stars
186 (26%)
4 stars
341 (48%)
3 stars
147 (21%)
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19 (2%)
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7 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 68 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
673 reviews42.7k followers
July 5, 2021

3.5/5 stars

Two more days, and The Empire’s Ruin—the newest book in the world of The Unhewn Throne series—by Brian Staveley will be published. I’ve read every novel that Staveley has written so far, that includes the upcoming The Empire’s Ruin, and I can’t believe I just found out about the existence of this short story last week. I am ashamed, but there are, however, benefits from this lateness of mine.

"This, too, the Shin had taught him, but in fact, the lesson was older, one of the most basic rules he’d learned back in the Perfumed Quarter: Never help. Akiil had amended the maxim slightly over the years, putting his own ethical stamp on the ancient saying: Only help when it won’t get you killed or seriously fucked up.

The Last Abbot of Ashk’lan is a short story that takes place immediately after the events of The Emperor’s Blades. Do not read this until you've finished reading The Emperor's Blades. It’s only about 20 pages long, and it shows what happens to Akiil—Kaden’s friend and a side character in The Emperor’s Blades—after the event of Staveley’s debut. This short story was published on the release date of The Providence of Fire, the second book in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy. But Akiil was never pivotal in the first trilogy. If I had read it back then, I would’ve just thought of this as a bonus.

But here’s the thing, Akiil is one of the main characters in The Empire’s Ruin. Yes, reading this now offers more background and details into his personality and actions that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate without the release of The Empire’s Ruin. I’m a fan of Staveley’s works; he’s one of my favorite authors. And The Last Abbot of Ashk’lan is a great short story about survival, motivation, and faith. I recommend this short story for fans of everything related to the Unhewn Throne series. Plus, this short story is free to read here: https://www.tor.com/2015/01/13/the-la...

You can find the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Devin, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Ellen, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Jennifer, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Sarah, Sarah, Seth, Shaad, Summer, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,196 reviews2,583 followers
February 29, 2016
*** 4 ***

This was a very short story about Kaden's friend Akiil, and what happens with him during the last moments of the first book of the series. We get to be with him only for a little while and we learn the faith of most of the monks and the Abbot.

Favorite passage from this story:

"This, too, the Shin had taught him, but in fact, the lesson was older, one of the most basic rules he’d learned back in the Perfumed Quarter: Never help. Akiil had amended the maxim slightly over the years, putting his own ethical stamp on the ancient saying: Only help when it won’t get you killed or seriously fucked up.

Although it only addresses and hour or so of time, the story is very congruent with the major novels and brings some more detail out. Very nice!

Profile Image for Armina.
176 reviews96 followers
February 18, 2015
Buddy read with Gavin


First off, if you have not read The Emperor's Blades, reading this short story will spoil it entirely. However, my thoughts about the story are spoiler free. But continue at your own risk!

My short review for book #1 is here .

I just learned this but it's quite unique so I want to start this review with it. The way The Last Abbot of Ashk’lan was published is awesome. The story came out as a reward for solving Brian Staveley's The Last Abbot Scavenger Hunt. You can found the entire chronicle of the treasure hunt here: https://bstaveley.wordpress.com/the-l...

This is a nice short story about Akiil, one of the more interesting side characters from The Emperor's Blades. What happened with him during the events at the end of the book? Did he make it? Did he die heroically? Did he sell out his monastic brothers?

It's tense and touching at the same time. Not missing one of the things I love in these series, the curses! Yes, the awesome curses:

"....praying to a variety of gods that the miserable, overarmored son of a bitch would get the holy fuck out already so Akiil himself could come down and be gone before the entire ‘Kent-kissing kitchen collapsed into a pile of rubble."

The essence of the story is a hard choice Akiil has to make in a hard situation. It's a tiny story which you can read for free here: http://www.tor.com/stories/2015/01/th...

Profile Image for Mike.
481 reviews375 followers
June 23, 2015
The Last Abbot of Ashk'lan, found here for free, is a brief story about what happened to one of my favorite side characters, Akiil, during the sack of Ashk'lan. I liked Akiil. He was part of the monastery and ostensibly training to be a monk, but he was only there because he was caught thieving and monkhood was much preferred to the alternative. He maintained a good natured sense of self deprecation and cynicism in the mountain monastery. The massacre that was befalling his brothers and the burning building he was in did nothing to dull that personality trait:
Balancing on his palms and the balls of his feet, he crawled a few feet along the narrow beam, trying to put more space between himself and the growing fire, trying not to draw the soldier’s attention, praying to a variety of gods that the miserable, overarmored son of a bitch would get the holy fuck out already so Akiil himself could come down and be gone before the entire ‘Kent-kissing kitchen collapsed into a pile of rubble.

The gods – perhaps because of the quantity of curses woven into the prayer – ignored him.
Like I said, it is a rather short read, encompassing maybe 10 minutes of story time, but it both fills a narrative hole in The Emperor's Blades (as there was no POV character present) and is a compelling story on its own. Staveley gives us a wonderful peek inside the mind of Akiil, where his street urchin instincts begin to boil to the surface.
This, too, the Shin had taught him, but in fact, the lesson was older, one of the most basic rules he’d learned back in the Perfumed Quarter: Never help. Akiil had amended the maxim slightly over the years, putting his own ethical stamp on the ancient saying: Only help when it won’t get you killed or seriously fucked up.
While not essential to understand in Providence of Fire, it was nice to revisit this world and a great character.
Profile Image for Gavin.
861 reviews392 followers
February 20, 2015
This short story set in The Emperor's Blades series takes place shortly after some major events towards the end of the first book in the series. It follows the fate of Kaden's friend Akiil after he became separated from Kaden.

I always liked Akiil and so was glad to read more about what happened to him. This was a great short story. It revealed some interesting stuff, but also left some mystery about what actually happened to Akiil. I hope he makes another appearance in the main series!

Rating: 4 stars. It might have been short, but it was on par with the main books in terms of quality.

Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,330 reviews29 followers
April 20, 2017
This short story is free online at Tor, and it follows right after book 1, The Emperor's Blades. It's a spoiler if read before book 1, so beware. Here is the link: http://www.tor.com/2015/01/13/the-las...

We find out what happened to Akiil, the child who grew up tough on the hard streets of Annur, a thief in the Perfumed Quarter. I liked this story, but the events didn't ring true. Disappointing.

But I love Akill and really loved the part Abbott Scial Nin played.

The problem was simple: he’d come to believe that he was actually safe here. The monks would hit him, even beat him bloody for certain lapses, but the monks weren’t going to kill him. In their strange, irritating way, they actually thought that all the hitting and running would end up helping him. Even more strange, even more irritating, was the realization that they were right.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Gritnay.
146 reviews38 followers
July 9, 2021
Short and heart breakingly intense.

It has been a while since reading the trilogy. But this pulled me right back and it seemed like I was there surrounded by a feel of the story I didn't know I still had. This world left a lasting impression.

Reread July 2021
Deep into my Unhewn Throne reread, it has been pointed out that the main character in this short story will be an important person in the just published new book set in this world. So of course I couldn’t miss it. And just like the first time, this story hits deeply and I actually can’t wait to meet Akiil again..
Profile Image for Holly (The GrimDragon).
998 reviews235 followers
February 16, 2020
"Akiil didn’t plan on dying, not yet, but if death came for him, he planned to go kicking and punching, cursing and biting, making as much fucking noise as possible."

Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne is one of my favorite series! It's one that I will never stop shouting about.

Now, in saying that, I somehow missed this short story along the way. FOR SHAME!!

This side story follows Kaden's friend Akiil immediately after the events in The Emperor's Blades.

It's surprisingly bloody and emotional for something so short! I dug it a lot!

I absolutely cannot wait for the next trilogy. Gah! I will read literally anything in this universe about any character, whether they are a main individual or someone in the background. ALL THE STAVELEY STORIES!

"First, survive"
Profile Image for OhWell.
726 reviews
March 13, 2015

Sweet, because of Akiil’s internal monologue, spiced with curses and dark humour. And also because he survives at least the first wave of killings.

Bitter, because of all the rest: Akiil going against his survival instincts and missing his chance to escape, in the hope that he could help Kaden; the terrifying and life-altering choice he is forced to make; and the fact that his fate is still totally uncertain...
Profile Image for Zaz.
1,559 reviews56 followers
December 14, 2015
At the end of The Emperor’s Blades, I was frustrated because I didn’t know for sure what happened to some of the monks. It appears I hadn’t to worry about that unfinished business, as this short story was here to answer, in a way, my questions.

The story takes place in that particular moment, so it's not an easy reading. Joining the young monk crushes a little the heart and makes you miss some breathes, thanks to the still great writing. It's nice to be in the head of a different character than the ones in The Emperor, it gives another insight of this event.
Profile Image for Jasper.
419 reviews37 followers
June 23, 2015

originally posted at: http://thebookplank.blogspot.com/2015...

The Emperor's Blades, which was released early January back in 2013 was an amazing debut. I described this book as being the next big thing, it has a lot of common ground with Epic Fantasy but in many different ways, Brian Staveley had set him self apart, in the sequel, The Providence of Fire, he once again proved his worth and just lately I saw the cover of the third book. Which will blow you away by the by, but being confronted with The Last Mortal Bond (book three), also revealed this short story set in the Chronicle of the Unhewn throne. So basically a double score.

The "synopsis" above should already tell you enough, but just to clarify, The Last Abbot of Ashk'lan doesn't feature the three children Valyn, Kaden and Adare but a minor character that you met up with in The Emperor's Blade: Akiil. Akiil's adventures actually play directly into the story of The Emperor's Blade, but this was something that Brian Staveley was unable to tell. Such a story reminded me very closely to what James A. Moore did with his Seven Forges series, where he also wrote about secondary characters.

Ok so as I mentioned the story of The Last Abbot of Ashk'lan focuses on Akiil, who is one of Kaden's closest friends and also a trainee of the Shin monks. The story starts of with the invasion of the soldiers who want to get their hand of Kaden, during the original story told in The Emperor's Blades, Akiil disappears, but no longer! As the events told in this story are what happened after. When you first met up with Akiil, you learned something of the background of him, that he was a rogueish person. In these few pages, Brian Staveley both tells a terrific story of how Akiil navigates through the invasion and tells more about Akiil's troubled history. There is a definite richness to the story, Brian Staveley tells it with his own confidence and some people might not like it because now they can no longer think about the what if's but the ending to what Akiil does is pretty confronting and can you really blame him?

Perhaps it wasn't a smart move of me to delve into The Last Abbot of Ashk'lan as now I am more than eager to see what will happen in The Last Mortal Bond. Which is sadly due March 2016.

In the meantime if you also want to read this amazing story visit this link

Profile Image for Gulen.
406 reviews
September 29, 2016
Akiil'in ölmediği ve ilerde çıkacağı belliydi, ancak ben daha çok bir kenardan kaçtı tarzı bir hikaye bekliyordum. Yine de anlamadığım bir şey var, madem Aedolian askerinin zırhını giyip onlardan biri olarak devam etti; Valyn ve Kedon 1. kitabın sonunda Ut ve askerlerini bulduğunda onların arasında değil miydi? Bunu da sonraki kitaplarda öğreneceğiz herhalde.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Francisca Liliana.
Author 1 book39 followers
April 7, 2022

“You have my blessing, Aedolian,” he said quietly, “for what you are about to do.”

After finishing The Emperor’s Blades, I was pleasantly surprised by the short story that appeared at the end of the book. This is not a story you want to read before finishing The Emperor’s Blades. It holds some major spoilers for the climax of the book, but this review will remain spoiler-free.
Brian Staveley is an author previously unknown to me; but after finishing the first book in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne he has cemented himself into a writer that has my undivided attention. This short story follows a character that is struggling to survive through the battle shown to us at the end of The Emperor’s Blades. We’ve never been given this perspective, although we are very familiar with this character within the main story. One of the aspects of Staveley’s writing I love so much is the detailed attention he gives to the side characters and their relationship with the main ones. They are just as important and just as developed as the main pov’s although we don’t read their perspectives in The Emperor’s Blades. This short story gives us a perspective we’ve never had before from a character we care about.

This story actually reminds me of Tobias Wolff’s short story Bullet in the Brain. In that story we read about a man named Anders laughing as a group of criminals rob the bank he is servicing at. One of the robbers takes offense at this and shoots him. We as the readers are thrown into Ander’s last moments as the bullet tears its way through his brain. What makes the story, so engrossing is how close Wolff brings us into this moment. It is a single event that has catastrophic implications, and on the microscopic level, Wolff tells us everything we need to know about the dying character in a few short pages. This is what Staveley does with The Last Abbot of Ashk’lan. He successfully teeters the reader on a knives edge and cuts straight through to the heart of the character, focusing in on a single act that has dire consequences and an unknown future. It’s breathtaking, and I truly admire what Staveley has managed to do for this character in that short amount of time. We have some questions answered and more to ask, but it is a wonderful little addition to my immersion into this world. I honestly cannot praise this short story enough. I absolutely loved it! It is a stunning work of literature that has the hidden undertones of what we have come to expect from literary fiction set in a fantasy world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this short story far more than I anticipated and throw my five stars at it! I hope there are more of these in the upcoming books in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne.
Profile Image for Anmiryam.
774 reviews132 followers
January 1, 2016
How did I mist this tor.com story about one of my favorite characters from The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #1) by Brian Staveley ? I'm glad I found it today and even happier that it gave credence to one of my favorite theories about a certain character. If I told you more and you haven't read the book yet, I'd likely have to kill you.

Now if book three would only make it into my hands sometime soon...
Profile Image for Pedro Marroquín.
761 reviews7 followers
July 25, 2015
Pequeño relato que te cuenta que ocurrió con cierto personaje entrañable cerca del final de The Emperor's Blades. Poco más que un aperitivo para el segundo de la serie, pero este autor me está gustando mucho. B
Profile Image for JM.
894 reviews924 followers
August 13, 2020
At the end of "The Emperor's Blades" I thought that Akiil, Kaden's low-born monk friend, along with Adare's younger bodyguard who felt betrayed by her willingness to sacrifice him along with his older counterpart to the Church of Intarra (but somehow decided to ignore that she actually saved them both in the end anyway, potentially getting herself killed) in the second volume, might play some role in the sequels since they suddenly disappear without much ceremony despite their previous roles in the story.

When I read the second volume of the trilogy, "The Providence of Fire," Akiil remained absent, so I thought that it's equally as likely that they make an appearance in the final volume or that they no longer play any role and are simply minor characters who got discarded. Guess we'll see.

Anyway, even if Akiil doesn't ultimately return, I'm glad that at least the author decided to write this short story showing the massacre at the Monastery of Ashk'lan at the end of the first volume from his point of view. Not only do we now know more about him as he actually sees himself and his fellow monks instead of just how Kaden sees him, but we now know that he actually survived the massacre, at least at first.

I'm about to start the final book, "The Last Mortal Bond," and then I'll get the prequel centered around the assassin Pyrre, "Skullsworn." I've enjoyed this series quite a bit despite the really anachronistic dialogue and the spells of idiocy some of the characters suffer once in a while.

Still hoping to find out what happened to either or both characters in the end, though.
Profile Image for MasterSal.
1,986 reviews17 followers
March 13, 2022
This is an excellent little short story set in the middle (and probably most impactful) part of Book 1. All of this will be spoilers for Book 1 so proceed with caution.

I will note that the audiobook has this as a bonus story, but an electronic version is also (mostly) available on Tor’s website as well. However, there are differences in the two version - not in terms of the main plot but paragraphs have been moved and lines are different. It was a bit annoying as I like to have the text in front of me even if I am listening to audio just to make sure I am not missing anything.

Anyway with the PSA over … onto the story.

We did end up with a cliffhanger which makes me determined to read this trilogy … good job there Mr. Author. I also thought that the writing was pretty good - which I am hopeful is a sign of growth on the author’s part.

4 stars!
Profile Image for blembop.
79 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2022
A very short little story about what happened to Akiil during the main event (avoiding spoilers) of The Emperor's Blades. I was excited for it personally because Akiil was one of my favorite characters throughout Blades. The short story however didn't seem to tell much aside from a couple hard decisions he had to make to stay alive and him figuring out where Kaden went. It doesn't really resolve or reveal much beside that. Hell, it technically doesn't even reveal enough to be sure that Akiil survives. Honestly, if you didn't like Akiil as much as I did, it's probably not worth your time.
Profile Image for Katherine.
1,099 reviews17 followers
April 24, 2020
Ahh, so I was wondering what happened to this particular character from The Emperor's Blades. This is a good read, and it's free on Tor's site, so it's worth a read if you're reading this series. It wouldn't make any sense as a stand alone read.
Profile Image for Wipqozn.
101 reviews
May 28, 2017
Really enjoyable short story. It's basically just another chapter of the last book, really, but I get why it was separated. I'd definitely give this a read once you finish up with The Emperor's Blades.
Profile Image for Stanley.
476 reviews
February 2, 2018
[ebook review] Although it complements the main storyline, I didn't actually like it: just wasn't interested in this character.

And it was a letdown after finishing Skullsworn, which I think is the best story in this series.
64 reviews
January 11, 2019
I suggests reading The Emperor's Blades before this, as it contains spoilers.

A short story taking place during the end of The Emperor's Blades. If you were wondering what became of Kaden's friend Akiil, this will answer your question.
175 reviews
July 5, 2021
This was a great little short story but I finished it and thought, 'Where's the rest of it?' I actually thought that I had read only a part of it. It felt incomplete and I still want to know what happened to Akiil. I hope we see him again in a future book.
Profile Image for Eline.
55 reviews
August 13, 2021
Definitly interesting little story of what happens outside of the main Point of View during the emotional peak of the Emperors blade. But I do recommend reading that book first before this one, even if you do not mind spoilers of any sort.
Profile Image for Naomi .
634 reviews59 followers
March 1, 2017
I can't tell how I feel about this. Akiil was one of my favorites from The Emperors Blades and I wanted to know what had happened to him. But now I'm just conflicted.
Profile Image for Patrick.
2,121 reviews19 followers
June 5, 2018
This was kind of heartbreaking.

Certainly don't read this until you've finished the first book. But, once you have, give this a read for some perspective on a third act event.
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