Book Bite | Twelve Kings in Sharakhai – Bradley P. Beaulieu

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About the Book

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.

592 pages (hardcover)
Published on September 1, 2015
Published by Daw
Author’s webpage
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This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

You can always tell how much I like a book by the food I eat while reading said book. For example, when I’m really digging a novel, I’ll cook food that the novel makes me think of. I cooked a whole lot of Middle Eastern cuisine when I read Twelve Kings in Sharakhai – kebabs and various dipping sauces up the wazoo. My house smelled amazing.

I love to read, and I love to cook, so the books with really realistic worlds and absolutely unparalleled world building tend to make me want to mash my two passions together. If the world is built well enough, I will want to not only read about it, but I’ll want to live in it, so I’ll try to bring some of their food into my house.

I never claimed I wasn’t weird.

Anyway, Twelve Kings of Sharakhai is a sprawling epic that is instantly addictive. Larger than life characters are set against a vibrant, realistic world rife with unique cultures and a fascinating political scene that profoundly affects just about everything it touches (which is everything). The magic system is just as epic and well thought out as everything else in the novel adding a layer of spice and texture to an already impossibly detailed, captivating world.

Ceda is a character I instantly wanted to learn more about. She’s strong and capable, with a rather mysterious past, a whole bunch of opinions, and some off-kilter viewpoints that could get her into trouble. She sort of lives in the underbelly of Sharakhai, and has some really interesting perspectives due to her lifestyle, her various secrets, and the city she lives in. Her voice is absolutely unique. She’s the perfect accompaniment for the world that Beaulieu has meticulously crafted.

Beaulieu has a knack for challenging his characters, and forcing them into unparalleled and unpredictable situations that will cause them to grow and develop in unexpected ways. It was really interesting to see just what kind of hell he could put his cast through, and just how all this hell would pay off for his characters, and the plot. This led to quite a few surprises along the way, which delighted me and had me on the edge of my seat in equal measure.

The plot is just as intricate as everything else. A lot of the novel is spent building up the world and setting the stage for what comes next, but Beaulieu does this in such a way that you’ll rarely, if ever, feel bogged down by information. Things unfold at a natural pace, and the information is sort of absorbed by the reader rather than smashed over their head. It’s a long book, but it felt short purely because I was so in love with it.

The ending sets the stage for the next book in the series, which I personally cannot wait for, but it really isn’t all about the ending. This is one of those books where the journey is really what it’s all about.

Twelve Kings of Sharakhai is like Game of Thrones in the desert, but less royalty and more strong women kicking ass. This is supposed to be a book bite, but when I really sit down and think about this novel, I doubt I could discuss all the things that I loved about it in a full-length review, either. Beaulieu really flexes his writer muscles here, and I honestly can’t wait to see what happens next.

More! More!


5/5 stars


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