Mount Readmore Book Review, 2017 24/100
With Blood upon the Sand By Bradley P Beaulieu
Audiobook Edition, Narrated by Sarah Coomes
Finished on 3/10/2017
Genres: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Arabic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Kickass Female Protagonist, Political Fantasy
1 Girl Assassin on her quest to defeat the 12 Cruel Kings of Sharhakai. She’s killed 1 King already, but the quest to kill the remaining 11 will test her mettle out of 5
‘With Blood Upon the Sand’ is book 2 in the Song of the Shattered Sands trilogy, following ‘Twelve Kings of Sharhakai’ and ‘Of Sand and Malice Made’ (A novella I reviewed here). Sharhakai is a setting with a palpable Arabic/Turkish feel; everything from the food sold on the streets to the desert setting to the warring tribes is a refreshing non-European setting.
This is probably the best political scheming fantasy book I’ve ever read. If you like the various factions of Westeros trying to claim the Iron Throne, then you’d love this. Some of the factions include: the 12 Kings who rule the city of Sharhakai; the 13 desert tribes who want the Kings dead, known collectively as the Moonless Host; the resurrected vampire/blood sorcerer Hamzakiir who wants the city for himself and is willing to sacrifice the Moonless Host to do it; the erekh (think evil djinni) who want Hamzakiir dead for breaking a promise; the Queen of Khymere, another blood sorcerer, who wants to conquer Sharhakai; some of the 12 kings want to rule the city alone; and finally the main character Ceda wants the city free from all of the above. As a result of this overabundance of factions, the plot could have been a train wreck. Instead Mr. Beaulieu created a masterpiece.
The characters in this book are enjoyable to read about, none committing the sin of being boring. Ceda walks the fine line of working against the hated Kings while maintaining her disguise among their trusted elite. Emre has to play his role as a strongman for the Moonless Host while simultaneously not getting caught by the Kings. Ramad must work for the increasingly erratic Queen of Khymere while not falling in love with her. Davood must fight against his vampiric nature while still using vampire magic to not be slain. The list goes on and on them here.
If I had to complain about this book I would say that it was too long. There was so much plot to be found within I honestly think the author could have broken this book up into two or three books. The fact that he didn’t means this book had a lot of bang for its buck. Besides that I missed Osman and the pits from book 1, who were MIA in this book.
Net total this was an excellent book. If you’re interested, please read ‘The Twelve Kings of Sharhakai’ and read on from there.
Audiobook notes: the voice actor did an excellent job at differentiating characters with different voices. My one quibble is the fact that she gave a full-blooded Sharhakhani woman a French accent (hint: Sharhakai=/= France). It was a bit weird, but at least it was easy to tell her apart from everyone else.