Title: Blood Upon The Sand Author: Bradley Beaulieu Genre: High/Epic Fantasy Publisher: Gollancz
Bradley Beaulieu’s second instalment in the series is as dramatic as the first, if not more. As the conflict in Sharakai rises, with new enemies and allies, Çeda and others have to face a great deal more difficulties. The plot was none the less eventful, and I found Hamzakiir a very promising villain as he shakes up the whole foundation of who is friend or foe in the story, affecting every character in some way. Çeda is as awesome as ever, but I really loved how she matured more. Instead of having pure hatred to a spoiled brat, who really deserve nothing less than a slap in the face with a hammer, Çeda comes to feel only pity for her. THIS kind of character development I live for. Çeda is just such an awesome protagonist, I also loved how she doesn’t let people use or unless it’s with her consent (but if you let her down, run).
Though, Beaulieu still seems to lack the ability to make shocking reveals. An author once said ‘If you can see it coming – the reader can see it coming miles away’ and that is what I think he might not understand. There’s a lot of classic tropes one expects almost unconsciously, and he fills most of them in. I really hope he will learn in time for the third instalment, or I might just put down the series for a while. It’s not bad, mind you, it’s just that I love plot twists and reveals, and so it bugs me when I can predict almost all of the reveals.
Another thing that kind of bugged me was the romance between Çeda and Emre. I’ve never felt any chemistry, and it just feels forced. But I don’t know, we’re all different when it comes to which we ship.
But, even though you can predict some, doesn’t mean the book isn’t any less exciting and that events were all predictable. This is a book I can see in my head as a movie (for it would make an awesome one for sure), an action packed fantasy movie set in a magical dessert world. Sign me up.
Also, there’s a new love interest I really did not see coming. You know when we suddenly feel the obvious romantic/sexual tension between two same-sex people, and you just know that the author is going to ignore that? Well, Beaulieu did not.
In summary, the sequel is really a must-read if you enjoyed the first. It is not perfect and I recognize the flaws, but those are flaws that only affects a bit of the book’s quality of story-telling, none that affects the quality of action or characters (except the Çeda/Emre, but thank God this isn’t a YA fantasy. No offence, I read YA fantasy as well, but you take my meaning). Also it has no sexism/racism/homophobic flaws so that makes it completely worth keep reading.
Epic fights and battles, interesting magic system, kick-ass and mature characters, pre-Islamic Middle-Eastern setting… It is totally worth reading.