Published: July 2, 2019
Publisher: DAW Books
Series: The Song of the Shattered Sands #4
Pages: 608 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The fourth book in The Song of Shattered Sands series–an epic fantasy with a desert setting, filled with rich worldbuilding and pulse-pounding action.
When a battle to eradicate the Thirteenth Tribe goes awry, the kingdoms bordering the desert metropolis of Sharakhai see the city as weak and ripe for conquest. Çeda, now leader of the Shieldwives, a band of skilled desert swordswomen, hopes to use the growing chaos to gain freedom for Sehid-Alaz, the ancient, undying king of her people. Freeing him is only the beginning, however. Like all the people of her tribe on that fateful night four centuries earlier, Sehid-Alaz was cursed, turned into an asir, a twisted, miserable creature beholden to the kings of Sharakhai–to truly free her king, Çeda must break the chains that bind him.
As Sharakhai’s enemies close in and the assault on the city begins, Çeda works feverishly to unlock the mysteries of the asirim’s curse. But danger lies everywhere. Enemy forces roam the city; the Blade Maidens close in on her; her own father, one of the kings of Sharakhai, wants Çeda to hang. Worst of all, the gods themselves have begun to take notice of Çeda’s pursuits.
When the combined might of Sharakhai and the desert gods corner the survivors of the Thirteenth Tribe in a mountain fastness, the very place that nearly saw their annihilation centuries ago, Çeda knows the time has come. She was once an elite warrior in service to the kings of Sharakhai. She has been an assassin in dark places. A weapon poised to strike from the shadows. A voice from the darkness, striving to free her people.
Now she’s going to lead.
The age of the Kings is coming to an end . . .
Bradley P. Beaulieu has knocked it out of the park again with the fourth installment of the Song of the Shattered sands series. Beneath the Twisted Trees continues to follow Ceda’s efforts to free Sehid-Alaz from the bonds of the remaining Kings of Sharakhai though I feel that a significant portion of focus became devoted to the crisis on a larger scale. The Mirean and Malasani fleets are at the doorsteps of the beleaguered city and is only made worse by the internal machinations of the Kings and the Qaimiri queen Meryam.
I found myself enjoying the perspectives of Brama and Davud most of all in this installment. Brama is dealing with his revised association with the ehrehk Rümayesh (slightly more equal footing) and gives a good insight into the Malasani movements. Davud is sneaking around Sharakhai with Anila after escaping the clutches of the Kings and trying to make contact with a group of other mages. Ceda’s chapters are always interesting since so much shifts around the choices she makes. Emre… well, I found his chapters pretty boring this time around. And let’s not forget Ramahd, who treads on treacherous ground and remains on Meryam’s bad side.
While many, many important things happened in Beneath the Twisted Trees, it somehow managed to feel like a mere prelude to the next book. Because of this inexplicable, probably just me feeling, it’s getting 4.5 stars rather than a perfect score. It was pretty cool though – lots of tense scenes, action, magic, and the expected level of plotting (plottery?). It was engaging and I loved the thrill of flipping to each new page, never knowing quite what would happen next.
I look forward to the next installment and it’s hard to believe this series isn’t getting the attention it most certainly deserves. As I type this it has fewer than 200 rating on Goodreads and it’s been out since July. Granted, maybe everyone else is being just as slow as I am about reviewing things. If you’re looking for a book full of rich, well-thought world building and an incredible storyline then this may just be a series you need to check out!