Perfect for fans of Mark Lawrence and R Scott Bakker, The Court of Broken Knives is the explosive debut by one of grimdark fantasy’s most exciting new voices.
They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust.
In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it.
Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.
The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.
‘Anna Smith Spark is a dynamic new voice in the field of grimly baroque fantasy, a knowing and witty provisioner of the Grand Guignol, a cheerful undertaker strolling across the graveyard and beckoning you to admire her newest additions.’
‘This outstanding, unputdownable debut holds and horrifies like a blood-spattered tapestry. There’s rough humour, high drama and a love of story-telling that shines through every page’ -Daily Mail
‘A confident first novel with deep veins of vice and brutality running through it, heralding the start of an atmospheric new series’ -SFX
‘Smith-Spark’s style, like her story stretches the envelope of conventions . . . the writing is skilful, the descriptions evocative, the dialogue sparks entertainingly, while the plot twists, turns and branches sinuously . . . an innovative and entertaining debut’ FantasyFaction
‘This is a tumultuous, often nihilistic world – but also one where there is potential for great beauty . . . I had to keep on turning pages to see what happens next’ -SFandF Reviews
‘Beautifully inventive as it is brutally evocative . . . Anna Smith Spark’s voice is equal parts mesmerising as it is magical . . . Once you get into the flow of things, you’ve dragged along, sucked down into the depths, and when you come back up you’ll be gasping for air’ -Fantasy Book Critic
‘Fierce, gripping fantasy, exquisitely written; bitter, funny and heart-rending by turns’ -Adrian Tchaikovsky
About the author
ANNA SMITH SPARK lives in London, UK. She has a BA in Classics, an MA in History and a PhD in English Literature.
Besides her fantasy novels, she has been published in the Fortean Times, Hansard and the poetry website www.greatworks.org.
Previous jobs include fetish model, English teacher and petty bureaucrat.
Anna can often be spotted at SFF conventions wearing very unusual shoes.
Spark's stunning Empires of Dust epic fantasy series begins with a gritty saga of political upheaval and intrigue. The eternal city of Sorlost the Golden, the "decaying heart of a decayed empire," has seen 20 years of peace. But rival nation Immish, devoted to the brutal god Amrath the World Conqueror, is assembling a massive army, and news has reached the Sorlost emperor of a mysterious warrior who's slain a dragon. That warrior is Marith, the heir to the throne of Immish. Exiled by his father for murder, Marith is determined to return to Immish to reclaim his place as a prince in the line of Amrath and lead his nation to victory. Meanwhile, nobles in Sorlost plot to overthrow their own emperor before he drags them into war with Immish. The disappearance of the High Priestess of Tanis, the bloodthirsty deity of Sorlost, adds an additional tangle. There are enough schemes set in motion here for five novels, and a wealth of intriguing characters. Spark's gripping debut is definitely one to read and prize.