Review: Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai is the first book in the Song of the Shattered Sands series by Bradley P. Beaulieu.

Plot:

Çeda lives with her best friend Emre in the slums of great Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, a hub of commerce and ruled by twelve immortal Kings. She loves Sharakhai and its people, but she had no love for the Kings and their harsh ways. She’s lost much by their hands, and every night of the Beht Zha’ir, when no one ventures outside and the chosen ones wait and pray to be taken by the deadly asirim, their hands are stained with more blood of Sharakhani. But the Kings are well protected by their Silver Spears and the elite warrior Maidens, and any hope to overthrow them is futile. After Çeda goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, she experiences something that sets her on a path of discovery, and revenge.  Sharakhai holds many secrets, and Çeda means to learns them all and use them to her advantage, for there is much afoot in the city.

Opinion:

Beaulieu is amazing at making you feel the city of Sharakhai. I could feel the heat, the press of bodies at the market, I could hear the gutter wrens running around laughing and picking pockets, the roar of the crowd in the fighting pits and I could see the horror of the asirim and the actions of the Moonless Host. The setting is absolutely riveting.

All characters felt like real people, with their own motivations, talents and flaws. Çeda is my kind of girl: headstrong, a woman of action, knowledgeable about her part of the city, curious, and driven. Sure, she’s driven to avenge the loss she suffered when she was little, but she has a plan, and sticks to it. She still has much to learn, of course, and she makes many mistakes. But she learns from them, and that’s what I like about her. She overreaches sometimes, and can be overconfident on occasion, but she’s still, what, nineteen? It’s understandable, even though it can be frustrating.

Her friendship with Emre was believable, and I’d like to know more about Emre, and his motivations. I don’t necessarily buy what he told Macide, leader of the Moonless Host, to join them, but he is siding with them while he knows Çeda doesn’t approve of their crude and often bloody methods. Why would he want to belong to them, is what I’m wondering.

Ramahd’s story of loss is a harrowing one, and sketches an even more terrible image of the Moonless Host. He’s on his own path of revenge, and I see his path colliding with Çeda’s many times in the future. I must admit I like him, and am severely creeped out by his sister-in-law Meryam, but I’m excited to see what happens next with them.

The only thing that frustrated me while reading this book was that no one seems to clearly communicate! Everyone’s keeping secrets from everyone, and then they feel bad for not telling the other. I believe Ramahd and Çeda have been the clearest towards each other about their goals. I hope people actually start talking to each other more, and work together.

Rating:

8.5/10

Review: Heart of Granite by James Barclay

Heart of Granite by James Barclay is the first book in the Blood & Fire series. It’s more sci fi than I thought it would be, (as in…completely) but that doesn’t throw me off as much as it would have years ago.

Plot:

War has torn the world apart, and there are no signs that the war is going to end anytime soon. Max Halloran is a hunter-killer drake pilot of the behemoth Heart of Granite, and if you were to ask the man himself, the best of the best. He is a part of Inferno-X, and his glamorous life consists mostly of getting praise, piloting his drake Martha, fighting the enemy, and sleeping with his girlfriend. He’s living the dream and partying hard, knowing that a drake pilot’s life tends to be brief. Either you die on the wing, or you Fall. But then Max hears something he shouldn’t, something that turns his world upside down. And he refuses to let it go.

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Review: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Throne of the Crescent Moon is the debut novel by American writer Saladin Ahmed, and the first book in The Crescent Moon Kingdoms series. I’ve had this one on my TBR pile for a while now, and it’s been staring at me, all that time, from my bookshelves, telling me to read it.

Plot:

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood is a ghul hunter, but he’s getting up there in age and his body isn’t what it used to be. He’s looking forward to retire in his beloved city of Dhamsawaat and spend the rest of his days drinking delicious teas and enjoying the company of friends. But he knows a peaceful life isn’t for those in his profession: he’ll be fighting ghuls until he’s dead. Adoulla and his devout assistant Raseed go ghul hunting after they find out a village of marsh dwellers has been slaughtered, but they aren’t prepared for what they end up getting entangled in. Something worse than regular ghuls is threatening Dhamsawaat. He recruits his old friends, Litaz the alkhemist and husband Dawoud whose magic is fuelled by his own life force. They are also joined by Badawi tribeswoman Zamia, whose band has been murdered by the same seemingly unstoppable force. Together they must navigate the magical, and the political, for there’s civil war brewing in Dhamsawaat.

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Review: Master of Whitestorm by Janny Wurts

I initially bought Master of Whitestorm because I’m trying to read more female fantasy authors, and on r/fantasy Janny Wurts came highly recommended. Rather than jump into a series, I decided to try one of her standalones first. Coincidentally, this book also qualifies for the r/fantasy Underrated square, so that’s two birds caught with one stone!

Plot:

Korendir, Master of Whitestorm, is no ordinary man. Enslaved by the Murghai as a boy, now grown into a man he frees himself and Haldeth, his partner on the oars of the slave ship. But if Haldeth thinks Korendir will live out his days in relative safety, peace and freedom, he is sorely mistaken. For Korendir has other plans.

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Review: Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky

A friend of mine had already recommended Adrian Tchaikovsky‘s Shadows of the Apt series to me, but even though I bought the first novel in the series, I jumped at the opportunity to read a stand-alone of his first. To give me a taste of his writing style. That opportunity was Spiderlight.

Plot:

Nth is a spider, a creature of Dark, and completely content to do spidery things, when a group of Man enters the woods he lives in. They burn a path through his many brethren, right up to his mother. He fears for his mother’s live then, and would gladly have given his life to defend hers. But his mother makes a deal with these humans, and one of those conditions is having one of her brood guide them towards the Dark Lord the humans mean to defeat. That guide is be Nth.

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