Twelve Kings: The Song of the Shattered Sands by Bradley Beaulieu

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Twelve Kings: The Song of the Shattered Sands by Bradley Beaulieu

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A feisty girl, demonic night stalkers and a blood oath to overthrow a dynasty that's ruled for 400 years. A promising set up novel to an Arabian-style fantasy from one of America's epic fantasy specialists. Bring it on!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 592 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Gollancz
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1473203006

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When she was a young child Ceda took a blood oath to seek vengeance against the twelve kings of Sharakhai and with good reason. Now, years later, the oath hasn't been fulfilled but Ceda has plenty of other things to keep her occupied. Whether couriering suspect packages, avoiding the asirim or risking her life in the combat pits to satisfy the blood thirsty crowd. Ceda has been biding her time and that time is approaching. However, she's only one 19 year old girl whereas the kings are legion and have powers to call on that aren't altogether natural. Blood must be avenged with blood; the only question is whose blood will it be?

American fantasy author and blogger Bradley Beaulieu is the kind of writer whose work is eagerly anticipated and this is a new series that could make the eyes shine especially brightly.

She may have an ally in a childhood friend and on-and-off contact with a mysterious family friend but when it comes to her oath, Ceda is one lass against the evil establishment. Having said that she's one heck of a well-honed lass. Her quest is towards the impossible end of the everyday task scale but we get the feeling there's much about her that neither she nor we know yet. At the moment she just has power inducing petals to call on but watch for future developments methinks!

The twelve king idea is a good one; not just one baddie but twelve and associated armies, henchmen etc. I was reading an ARC so no list of characters at the beginning but Bradley has done everything he can to make them stick in our minds by naming the rulers after their attributes. Although the Wandering and the Jade-Eyed Kings sound ordinary enough, they aren’t to be messed with. Whereas the King of Whispers has omnipotent hearing so that even the air has ears! The fact that their protectorate are all female gives Ceda a way in, however that's the start of her problems rather than the beginning of the end.

Talking of baddies, the human grabbing asirim are a mysterious plot-thickener although I think we may realise what they are before Ceda does.

The world Bradley has woven is desert with some very clever twists and takes Ceda's tale away from possible comparisons with The Hunger Games. The main mode of distance transport are ships that sail over sand, based in land-locked harbours while our knowledge of the claustrophobic souks and fiercely fought rivalries from our own world heightens the feeling of fear and paranoia the story engenders. Drugs, poisons and potions from peculiar sources as well as fatal flowers adds to the exotica and uncertainty of survival.

Indeed there are hooks a plenty that aid our jump from one slice of adventure to the next. In fact we jump around a fair bit between present and Ceda's past but patience in that respect pays off in the end. The only other minor niggle is that there are a few lulls that hint that the book could have been a little shorter. I think we may be able to disregard that niggle next time though. Once all is set up and Book 2 begins, I'm betting that size won't matter – I predict this is going to be a goodie!

(Thank you Gollancz for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you love your fantasy action-packed, then we also highly recommend Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell.

Buy Twelve Kings: The Song of the Shattered Sands by Bradley Beaulieu at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Twelve Kings: The Song of the Shattered Sands by Bradley Beaulieu at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Twelve Kings: The Song of the Shattered Sands by Bradley Beaulieu at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Twelve Kings: The Song of the Shattered Sands by Bradley Beaulieu at Amazon.com.


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