It is the first book of the Nightblade Epic and chronologically the first novel to take place in Underrealm (some Chronicles take place earlier, but are short stories). It was furthermore the first book set in Underrealm to be written and released, beginning in episodic format in September 2014. The first completed edition of Nightblade released in October 2014 and the latest edition was published on the 23rd of June 2016.
Robinson has said that the idea for the Nightblade Epic came from his wife, who noticed that he hadn't written any books in a long time, and that it was making him unhappy. Robinson had always wanted to write an epic fantasy series, which would later become the Quest series, but did not feel that he knew enough about the world to dive into it. Instead, he decided to write something else in the world which would become Underrealm, which were Loren's tales. Production began in the summer of 2014, which also saw the introduction of Vloganovel.
Setting and characters
As Nightblade is the first book set in Underrealm, and most often the first book that readers will encounter from the world, it introduces a great many things, including the world at large. It takes place entirely in the Kingdom of Selvan, and majorly in the city of Cabrus, though the beginning also introduces Loren's home in the Birchwood.
Loren is the principal character of the book, as well as the eponymous series.
The audience meets Loren for the first time in Nightblade. At the time she is still fifteen, and living with her parents in the Birchwood, but she has strong desires to leave her home for the adventures of the wider world, potentially as a master thief, much like the legendary Mennet the Mist, featured in Bracken's tales. Though she eventually manages to break free of her abusive parents' control, she soon finds that the world at large is much larger and more dangerous than she first thought. Despite numerous setbacks and run-ins with people far more powerful than her, Loren does not let this get in the way of realizing her dream to become a master thief.
Chet is Loren's love interest in the beginning chapters of Nightblade. Although he does not appear as a major character until Shadeborn, he is present in some early scenes of this book too, while Loren is still living with her parents.
Chronologically, Xain of the family Forredar appears in Nightblade before any other book, though he also appears in all three of the currently released Academy Journals books. Xain is introduced very shortly after Loren, and he is the catalyst which propels Loren to leave her home in the first place. Throughout Nightblade, Xain disappears and reappears a number of times, and his relationship with Loren is cordial at best. Despite this, the time they spend together is essential for building the foundations of a future friendship.
Annis meets Loren almost as soon as she leaves the Birchwood. At the time, Annis is still travelling with her mother Damaris, though she is not happy with the situation. When Loren decides to leave the company of Damaris' caravan, Annis asks her to take her too, and the pair run away together, infuriating Damaris. This begins a close friendship between Annis and Loren, who do not part again for any great length of time until the events of Shadeborn.
Damaris of the family Yerrin, who is a major recurring antagonist in the Nightblade Epic, appears early in Nightblade, and at first she is friendly to Loren. She allows Loren to seek refuge from the constables who are chasing her, gifts her with a deep black cloak, and trains her in the rudiments of riding a horse. Damaris' intentions are unclear, but it is possible that she was interested in taking Loren under her wing, to train as an assassin or other servant. This ends when Loren escapes with Damaris' daughter Annis, the act of which creates a bitter feud that lasts well into the series.
Summary of events
Nightblade is followed by Mystic, the second book of the Nightblade Epic.