The Song of Shattered Sands - Book 1
I became enamoured of epic fantasy back in the 70s when the big thing to read was Lord of the Rings. Elves and fairies and orcs and wizards and the like were de rigeur and I was totally along for the ride. Still am, truth be told. Today, however, things are finally changing and we're seeing more and more diverse worlds being built and mythologies and cultures being created. It's wonderful!
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai gives us a desert world filled with nomads and tribes and kings and pit fighters and street urchins and zombies and blade-wielding elite woman warriors. It's refreshingly different from much epic fantasy that I've read. There are hints of such a world in the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin and I think I might even see some inspiration from my favourite Guy Gavriel Kay, but make no mistake, Bradley P. Beaulieu has created something quite special and immersive, I think.
If I say that this is the story of a young girl coming into her own, starting her life journey, it sounds like the ubiquitous YA novel, but I think that'd be doing it a disservice. I dislike YA and New Adult novels, they leave me - for the most part - searching for more substance. But man, oh man, this book has some hefty substance! It's a long read, but it's fascinating. The characters are great, they have dimension and weight and substance and they all have flaws. And while the long game of the plot seems to be something read before - the overthrowing of the current powerful folk - something tells me that it's not going to be so straightforward and the journey to the end game is going to be gripping.
Now, there are a lot of flashbacks in this book and that might give some pause, but while I am generally not a fan, I didn't mind them at all. Alot of the plot has to do with the MC, Çeda's memories and the way the flashbacks play out, it's like we're remembering things along with her - things that didn't seem important but really are and the like. I don't know how it's going to play out in subsequent books, but in this one, it works for me.
So yeah, a highly-recommended read for lovers of epic fantasy and I'm definitely looking forward to the second book which I hope to get my hands on soon. :) (This book, is actually on sale at Kobo for $2.99 as I write this.)
Oh... and that cover! It's GORGEOUS!!