Published: August 15, 2017
Series: Empires of Dust #1
Pages: 512 (Paperback)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In this dark and gripping debut fantasy that Miles Cameron called “gritty and glorious!” the exiled son of the king must fight to reclaim his throne no matter the cost.
It is the richest empire the world has ever known, and it is also doomed. Governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The Yellow Empire is on the verge of invasion–and only one man can see it.
Haunted by prophetic dreams, Orhan has hired a company of soldiers to cross the desert to reach the capital city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from the ashes can a new empire be built.
The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Young, ambitious, and impossibly charming, something dark hides in Marith’s past–and in his blood
Dark and brilliant, dive into this new fantasy series for readers looking for epic battle scenes, gritty heroes, and blood-soaked revenge.
Months prior to its release, The Court of Broken Knives was already receiving significant and consistent praise from basically every fantasy reader that had managed to snag an advanced copy. That in itself, regardless of synopsis and fancy cover design, was enough for me to add it to my ever growing list of books to be read. At long last, I received my own copy and the anticipation was over! It was well worth the wait, as this is one of the most striking debuts I’ve read this year.
If you’re looking for an epic fantasy with heroes galore, happiness, and high moral standards this book doesn’t meet those requirements. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read The Court of Broken Knives anyways though – it’s way too awesome to ignore! The book starts out with a company of mercenaries that are willing to knife their own men in the night if they can’t keep up the grueling trek through the desert, so we don’t exactly have any heroes in the mix. It only gets more interesting from here as additional characters are introduced, storylines weave together, and situations get progressively worse. Our main protagonist, Marith, is a particularly interesting piece of work. Entire character studies could be done on him and his host of personal demons. He’s has the appearance of naïve innocence at first, but as the story progresses you realize he’s a bloody monster and he’ll be watching the world burn to ash before it’s all said and done. I loved to hate him and hated to love him and can’t wait to read more in the sequel.
Anna Smith Spark’s writing style is unusual and suited perfectly to her story – I would describe it as elegantly blunt, if such a thing is possible. She details the world, the characters, tidbits of history, and incredible battle scenes with an artist’s touch. I could easily visualize EVERYTHING. Whether that is actually a good thing is still up for debate. This book has all the interesting stuff you could ever want – battles, politics, betrayal, attractive love interests, flawed characters – so if you haven’t already you should really check this book out. Unless you’re only into heroes, then maybe not.
Overall, this is definitely one of the coolest debuts of the year. The continual reinforcement of dual natures/feelings was really interesting and made me think harder about, well, life in general. This was particularly strong for Thalia, as she was both attracted to and abhorrent of Marith, depending on which side of him he was showing. Their relationship was an interesting one and I’m curious to see how it will play out over the course of the next two books. Excitingly enough, we already have a cover, title, and exceprt for the second book, The Tower of Living and Dying, at the end of The Court of Broken Knives.