Published: September 1, 2015
Pages: 592 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
Sharakhai, the great city of the desert, center of commerce and culture, has been ruled from time immemorial by twelve kings—cruel, ruthless, powerful, and immortal. With their army of Silver Spears, their elite company of Blade Maidens, and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule.
Or so it seems, until Çeda, a brave young woman from the west end slums, defies the Kings’ laws by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha’ir. What she learns that night sets her on a path that winds through both the terrible truths of the Kings’ mysterious history and the hidden riddles of her own heritage. Together, these secrets could finally break the iron grip of the Kings’ power…if the nigh-omnipotent Kings don’t find her first.
I have always loved beginning a new book series and Twelve Kings in Sharakhai was an amazing series debut. I couldn’t have asked for something more refreshing to my recent fantasy menu- the desert setting, the culture, the politics… all of these things kept me turning pages, losing myself in the story.
The city of Sharakhai was engrossing. I imagine this giant, shining city that’s like an oasis in endless miles of desert. It’s bustling, full of life and you can buy anything your heart desires in its endless stalls and shops, from spices to secrets. Of course, like any city, Sharakhai has a darker side- there are fighting pits, thieves, rebels, and the twelve kings that have ruled for hundreds of years in their hilltop palaces. It is in one of these areas that we first find Ceda. Ceda is famous in the fighting pits for her efficient skill, though she keeps her identity secret from all but her closest acquaintances. She does some delivery work for one of the pit bosses and when one of the jobs goes awry, Ceda’s story truly begins.
I found Ceda to be a savvy character who knows how to interact with each person she encounters. She always has a strong personality, but she is forceful with some, respectful to those who demand it… what I’m saying is she isn’t this brash, mouthy idiot with every single person she encounters. Her manner shifts for each situation, which I think makes her much more genuine and well-written than characters in many other books. Each of the characters, secondary, tertiary and so forth are all written with quality and care which I love.
The history, culture, and even the flashbacks to Ceda’s younger years add such depth to this story and are so engaging in their own right, that I could go on a decent tangent about just that. All of these add solidity to the story and make it something that I want to come back to and reread time and time again. I will absolutely be buying both the short prequel novel and ALL the future installments in this series. With Blood Upon the Sand was released at the beginning of February and will be high up on my list of purchases. I have to have it in hardcover, of course. I would highly recommend this series to anyone that’s a fan of fantasy, particularly if you’d like a break from the pseudo-European stuff!