(Alternative name: Twelve Kings In Sharakhai)
Author: Bradley Beaulieu Publisher: Gollancz ISBN: 978-1-473-20302-0
“The twelve kings of Sharakai tried to bury their secrets in the sands. But no matter how deeply they are buried, secrets want to be found. An assassin discovered the first of them, and was murdered by the kings, who hoped their secrets died with her. But secrets find a way. The assassin had a daughter. And now she will uncover the truth.”
If someone ever asks you what ‘Epic Fantasy’ means, throw them this book
in a martial art way. From the very first pages, we find ourselves in an intense gladiator-like battle between a huge man and our protagonist, the 19-year-old Çeda. The author does a fantastic job to immediately throw us into the action while also introducing the main character and giving us an understanding of her character.
Çeda is a great protagonist – she’s ambitious and strong. The plot follows her on her quest to seek revenge against the kings who executed her mother, but what makes this plot so great is that we also follow other characters on their quest for revenge, but putting them on different sides. By the end I can tell you that I was very confused on which side to root for (which is actually a good thing), except Çeda herself.
But oh, the setting, guys. This is not a European Mediaeval setting, but instead a pre-Islamic Middleast. I’ve always been in awe of their culture (of course also after Islam) so I absolutely loved the world building. With gods and myths intertwining with the world, it gave the plot a striking Fantasy-feel.
So I’m in no confusion why this book has been so highly praised. The battle scenes are epic, the world building is great, the characters are all well developed and well-written. Usually I’m not the one for romance, but this book does it quite well. Çeda’s love for a man she grew up with was, at first, not that interesting but thank the gods Beaulieu chose to not put her main focus there. Put as the story progressed, this love came to play a very significant role in the story, instead of a romance sub-plot. I mean, how often does that happen? So now I’m very angsty for what’s going to happen in the next book…
Though the only real problem I had with this book was that at times, it was pretty predictable. Like there is this trope that I had, since the very beginning, just been waiting on to be revealed. I was hoping the author would NOT use it, but we can’t have everything… except for that, other “big” reveals was, to be honest, not that shocking. Which was a little bit annoying. Beaulieu is great at writing fantasy, I was constantly hooked. But plot-twists and such is something that I hope he will have worked on for the next book.
But in conclusion, there’s no doubt that I love this novel and I just can’t wait to get my hands on the next book.
You Should Read This Book If You;
- Love epic fantasy
- Want a fantasy setting somewhere else than in Medieval Europe
- Love a great revenge story but without an anti-hero
- Have a hard time getting into a book if it has a slow start
- Want relevant romance in the book, and no instalove
- Like political intrigue
- when gods and monsters are not just present in the myths…
- want sword-fighting maidens that are freakin scary
- want great battle scenes
- great and significant Character developments
- want great female characters!
This Book Is Not For You If You;
- don’t want any sex scenes (ok there are like 2 so not GoT)
- just don’t want any romance at all
- are not Middle-eastern and have a hard time connecting with any world building that does not resemble your own or that you know of
- not into fantasy