Mount Readmore Book Review, 2017 21/100
Of Sand and Malice Made By Bradley P. Beaulieu
Finished on 2/21/2017
Genres: Fantasy, Arabic flavored Fantasy, Kickass female protagonist
3 Mini-stories featuring 1 Pit fighter and 1 Ancient Demon out of 5
This pre-sequal to ‘The Twelve Kings of Sharhakai’ is a fun, short book (only ~230 pages long). I liked ‘Twelve Kings,’ and think that this is a good follow up to that book even though it happens chronologically earlier than that book. This book essentially contains 3 connected short stories, which together are greater than the sum of their parts. I don’t think this book is part of the main ‘Shattered Sands’ trilogy, so reading this is enjoyable but optional.
Cheda is a young pitfighter in the ancient city of Sharhakai when she catches the attention of Rümayesh the demon. Obsessed like a crow with a shiny object, the demon wants to possess Cheda both literally (as in she wants Cheda to be her slave) and spiritually (the demon wants Cheda to be her new host). The demon will do whatever it takes to steal her newest prize.
The plot is steadily paced, which is great, but didn’t really surprise me at any point (aka no twist ending). This makes sense as the book was short and thus there was no time for twist endings.
The characterization of Cheda is okay, but light. She doesn’t change, doesn’t grow up. Emre and Osman were great in book one, but as they didn’t get much time in this book. Rümayesh was probably the best character in the book, given that she was a weird mixture of devoted and capricious similar to the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair from ‘Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell.’
The setting was fantastic. Mr. Beaulieu did a great job in book 1 making a vividly immersive world, and continued in this mini-book. For example, he does a great job describing what the city of Sharhakai smells like (rose, lavender, mud), describing the tasty food (cumin bread, herb-flavored goat cheese, rosewater lemonade). Even the minor details he mentions add so much depth (like the fingernails hanging in the shaman’s sand-boat or the mosaics in the broken temple).
Net total, this book is well worth reading if you are interested in this series.