Rifter Book 3: Black Blades by Ginn Hale

Title: Rifter 3: Black Blades
Author: Ginn Hale
Buy link: Amazon.com
Publisher: Blind Eye Books
Genre: Fantasy M/M
Length: Novella (130 pgs PDF)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A guest review by Kassa

This review is likely to contain spoilers about past books in the series.


The Rifter is a ten-part serialized novel by award-winning author, Ginn Hale. The first episode, The Shattered Gates, was published on March 8, 2011.

When John opens a letter addressed to his missing roommate, Kyle, he expects to find a house key, but instead he is swept into a strange realm of magic, mysticism, revolutionaries and assassins. Though he struggles to escape, John is drawn steadily closer to a fate he share with Kyle—to wake the destroyer god, the Rifter, and shatter a world.


Black Blades is the third installment of ten of the Rifter series. As with previous novellas be sure you’re reading this series in order or you’re likely to be even more confused than normal. For those fans that have been following along and are ready for part three – it’s exciting and intriguing. Hale ramps up the action and drama with an intense yet fascinating addition to the series. John’s time at the monastery is revealed in a lengthy flashback covering the second half of the book while the first goes into much more detail about Kyle aka Kahlil’s current time as he attempts to stop John’s (future) assassination.

The story of course sounds convoluted and twisted but this episode is the most straight forward of the group. The beginning starts out as usual with a recap of events past before delving back into Kahlil’s current life. Kahlil is a runner if you remember but he’s recently stumbled into a plot to kill John aka Jath’ibaye. Yet Kahlil realizes that Jath’ibaye knows him. The first part of the novella is told from Kahlil’s perspective as he tries to understand who Jath’ibaye is and how they know each other. More details emerge about Jath’ibaye’s current position and how he’s connected to the political powers. At the same time Kahlil discovers what this means to him and his broken memory.

The first part of the novella is action packed and pretty intense. Kahlil and Jath’ibaye have obvious chemistry and their scenes together are dynamic. These are easily my favorite parts of the story no matter how brief. The added details help to create a fuller emerging picture of the landscape and political climate after the Rifter has changed the course of history and the world. Kahlil feels more real and solid as the series continues, becoming a worthy lead character opposite the often scene stealing Jath’ibaye.

The second half of the installment then flashes back to when John first enters the holy palace at the top of the thousand stairs. John is still John, before he becomes Jath’ibaye and presumably the narrative will continue in this vein up until the current time. While the information is absolutely essential – especially in seeing what John did and how he came to be what he is in the future – the flash back feels disjointed. It’s as if the story turns completely on a dime halfway through to start almost an entirely new story.

On the one hand I didn’t mind this since both narratives are compelling and interesting. John’s time at the palace is fascinating as he learns what will obviously be essential information. This also helps the reader with the various intricacies of the complicated world building. Each part of the series offers more and more world building and this novella balances that information with meaty plot and a hefty dose of character development. The pace is so quick the pages fly by almost too fast, but that’s almost because I was so absorbed I didn’t want it to end.

Of the books in the series so far this is the most satisfying and it feels as though the story has started to hit its stride. The heavy but necessary information dumps are almost over – though no doubt more to come – and the complex plot can start to weave John and Kahlil together more. Of course with seven more books to come I fully anticipate that small pleasure not to last but you won’t want to miss this.




  • I agree that the story picked up big time in this episode. Like it… Also liked seeing John in the temple. The timelines are challenging.

    • Oh well if you like seeing John in the temple you’ll LOVE part 4 which is nothing BUT John in the temple. Are you excited yet?

      I agree the timelines are challenging but the story is slowly coming together so the details make more sense.

      • Khalil is still my favourite character though. I think I fell for his story the most. I kinda feel he has had a tough life…? I dont know where I get that feeling from really but John feels more priviliged compared to Khalil when the story begins.

  • Kassa
    I was so happy to read book 3 because of all the action, which was long awaited. I think the series is now hitting its stride.

    Kahlil feels more real and solid as the series continues, becoming a worthy lead character opposite the often scene stealing Jath’ibaye.

    I totally agree with this comment.

    Great review Kassa. I think your reviews are a huge reason for the build-up of interest in this series.

    • Part 4 is not so “action” but it still keeps the quick pace and engaging manner. I flew threw it even though it’s all John and no Kahlil. I didn’t really notice until the end so here’s to hoping we get more of the couple together (I’m so greedy).

      Thanks! It’s been a real pleasure to review this series.

  • I’m following too 😀 and enjoying the rich detail which challenges me to hold patterns of story in mind

  • I’m really hoping your enjoying how this whole story is coming together. I loved it so much!

    • I am enjoying it quite a bit. I will say the entire story is so unwieldy that it shows. You simply can’t create such a complicated plot with such a large cast and not have odd, clunky moments. However this is pretty common in epic fantasy stories and usually I like the jumping around. Just when I’m getting bored with one set of characters, another group is the focus.

      Thus its a credit to the story that I like both main story lines so much I hate when they jump (I want them to stay!). So far I’m pretty invested and wish I could read it all at once.

      • yep, I actually got most anxious by part 1 when Kyle and John got separated. Part 2 got me hooked again even if I was hesitant to read it at first. Part 3 had the most plot so far and most interaction between characters so I am enjoying it!


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