Best Book of 2015 by Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BuzzFeed • “Promises to be breathtaking.” —Robin Hobb
The Song of the Shattered Sands: Book One
Sharakhai, the great city of the desert, center of commerce and culture, has been ruled from time immemorial by twelve kings -- cruel, ruthless, powerful, and immortal. With their army of Silver Spears, their elite company of Blade Maidens and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule.
Or so it seems, until Çeda, a brave young woman from the west end slums, defies the Kings' laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha'ir. What she learns that night sets her on a path that winds through both the terrible truths of the Kings' mysterious history and the hidden riddles of her own heritage. Together, these secrets could finally break the iron grip of the Kings' power...if the nigh-omnipotent Kings don't find her first.
Beaulieu (the Lays of Anuskaya series) presents a complex alternative-world sword and sorcery setting in this lumbering but effective first entry in the Song of the Shattered Sands series. This big novel takes its time introducing the desert metropolis known as Sharakhai, where 12 immortal lords live in luxury and everyone else scrabbles for scraps. Nineteen-year-old Ceda's mother was executed by the Kings years ago; now Ceda is a hardened gladiator seeking ways to undermine the Kings' magical powers. In addition to Ceda's scheming, the action is driven by her friend Emre, whose hatred of the Kings allies him with the merciless terrorist Macide, and by Ramahd, who is pursuing Macide to avenge his slain wife and child. The novel finally earns its length in a subterranean battle for control of a resurrected blood mage with a private agenda. Overall, this is an impressive performance.
This Review was first published on Kurt's Frontier.
For 400 years, the great desert city of Sharakhai has been ruled by twelve immortal kings. Kings who are powerful, ruthless, and cruel. The Kings uphold their positions by the might of the army of Silver Spears, the elite corps of Blade Maidens, and the asirim, creatures of nightmares. The Kings are undisputed lords of the desert, their rule absolute.
Çedemihn Ahyanesh’ala, Çeda to her friends, is a brave young woman from the west end slums. She is also a pit fighter who fights as a gladiator for the spectators. When she breaks the laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha’ir, she comes face to face with the asirim. This is set on a path to discover the terrible truth of the Kings’ history and her own heritage. This opens the possibility of breaking the power of the Kings, assuming she survives.
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai is the first of a new series called The Song of the Shattered Sands. The novel follows Çeda from the pits of Sharakhai where she fights under the guise of the White Wolf. She also runs errands for the pit master, Osman. One night she decides to run such an errand on Beht Zha’ir. She comes face to face with the greatest of the asirim. These are creatures that are humans transformed to hideous monsters. Yet they don’t kill her. This sets her on a path that could bring down the Kings. First, she must unravel the mystery of the Kings’ history and why her mother was killed by them.
The novel is fast paced with interesting characters and interesting settings. Çeda is likable. However, Bradley Beaulieu makes heavy use of flashbacks. Anyone who has read my reviews, knows that I feel flashback interrupt the forward momentum of the story. It is used introduce Çeda’s back story. Her mother tried to assassinate the kings. So the reader knows that her quest has been a long time coming. However, the back story is a bit much. Since it does tie the story together it comes close to being forgivable. All in all, this was a fun book to read, and I look forward to the reading With Blood Upon the Sand.
Really good fantasy
While the plot and characters are fairly common for fantasy the Sahara-like setting is quite good. The worldbuilding was also quite compelling. Though typical the plot was well executed. The only real downers where the slightly vapid moralising and some of the subplots.
Can't wait for the next one !!!
I guess as I finish a book if my first thought is..." when is the next one come out?" That means I really liked it. Very well written with a great story and a main character that I liked a lot. A nice thing about fantasy series is if the author left things yet to be done. I first discovered Bradley Beaulieu when I read the awesome anthology " Blackguards" ( highly recommended). His story was my favorite from an author I had never read before. Thanks for this great book Brad and keep them coming.