Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

uptower

Will likely be killed by a Lannister soon
#1
By Bradley P Beaulieu

This one falls into the category of 'Silk Road Fantasy' - essentially a middle/near-eastern flavor as opposed to medieval Europe. The setting is a refreshing change and having visited a few countries in the region myself, feels like an authentic secondary world. It has a strong mix of history and mythology and accurately portrays the way the medieval mind mixes the two.

The protagonist is a young woman with an interesting and fleshed-out history, that is slowly revealed. Who woulda thunk men could write strong female leads? Though the last one I reviewed, CB Currie's The Martyr and the Prophet, also had a strong female character who looks set to do great things, I wasn't left thinking of her as the 'lead'. Beaulieu's Ceda is certainly the one in the driving seat. She's detailed, nuanced and believable.

Beaulieu's society has a unique flavor too: twelve immortal kings rule their desert realms and there is plenty of George Martin style court intrigue. Ceda is thrust up through this world as her humble beginnings may not be humble and she finds she has a role to play in the doings of the great and good.

The only weakness would be a lack of POV from other characters, as Ceda dominates the story (well, it's her story). For an expanded story line and world, I hope to see more of the others in future volumes. A few fantasy tropes soften the impact in some places but I won;t fault a writer for nodding to his market: even Martin has zombies and kings with 'dragon blood'.

On the whole it was a highly enjoyable read and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a fresh take away from the well-trodden medieval fantasy path, in search of a sun-baked desert getaway. Four solid stars.

 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#2
I'm pretty sure this was a 2015 book but I did enjoy it. Beaulieu doesn't get enough attention (he kinda got screwed when Night Shade Books went under).
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#3
You're right but I just like reading an uptower review. So eloquent.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#6
Just finished this great book and I bought the sequel immediately. This is true epic fantasy written by a very talented author. The desert setting is rendered convincingly as you feel that you are sharing Ceda's journey and travails among powerful desert tribes and immortal kings and desert gods. This book is an 11 out of ten. Absolutely great.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#7
Just finished this great book and I bought the sequel immediately. This is true epic fantasy written by a very talented author. The desert setting is rendered convincingly as you feel that you are sharing Ceda's journey and travails among powerful desert tribes and immortal kings and desert gods. This book is an 11 out of ten. Absolutely great.
You might like his previous series as well, starts with The Winds of Khalakovo. Beaulieu used to be with Night Shade Books and there was trouble getting ahold of copies of those books for awhile but I *think* they're all in ebook form now.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#8
You might like his previous series as well, starts with The Winds of Khalakovo. Beaulieu used to be with Night Shade Books and there was trouble getting ahold of copies of those books for awhile but I *think* they're all in ebook form now.
Thanks Sneaky. I did buy the first book way back when it was a daily deal, so I'm set to do that. Your review of With Blood Upon the Sand is great.