Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai
by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Series: The Song of Shattered Sands #1
On-Sale Date: Available Now
Fiction, Epic Fantasy
DAW, 592 pages
Source: Publisher
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
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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.

Twelve Kings In Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu introduces an exciting new fantasy series featuring a rich and diverse world with an Eastern-inspired desert setting where sorcery, kings, gods, and spies mingle in a lushly realized world and Ceda its protagonist, a kick-ass heroine and pit-fighter, leads readers in an unforgettable story of revenge, magic, and mystery.

Epic fantasy at its heart draws readers to it time and again for its ability to transport to exciting, newly imagined realms - Twelve Kings In Sharakhai does this but instead of the tried and true European/Medieval inspired stories, author Beaulieu opens his series with a beautiful and complex fantasy world as those found in Silk Road Fantasy. It is a world where sword and sorcery mix with pit-fighters and smugglers. Where the vast seas of sand are traversed in giant sand-ships. It is familiar yet new and exciting. 

This is a large book, nearly 600 pages, and Beaulieu makes those pages count as he builds this world from ground-up immersing the reader into its sights and sounds. Think Arabian nights and bedouins. Spice, trade, and merchants mingle in the great desert city of Sharakhai ruled by 12 immortal kings of immense power. Ruthless and cruel, they are protected by an elite company of Blade Maidens, its army of Silver Spears, and by their vast network of spies. But, the greater they are, the greater the fall - and our heroine is about to bring these Kings down. 

Nineteen-year-old Ceda is a compelling heroine easy to admire and cheer for. From the moment I opened the first few pages with Ceda in the pits, fighting gladiator-style against some big, ugly brute and kicks his ass - I was hooked. She's fierce, passionate, and devoted to only a select few. Those she would willing die and/or kill for, in order to protect. 

Raised in the slums, she fights under the alias of White Wolf using the skills taught to her by her warrior mother. Vowing revenge against her mother's execution, Ceda is determined to find a way to fight the 12 Kings magic. Along with a novel left to her by her mother and an unexpected discovery during the holy night of Beht Zha'ir, Ceda begins to unravel secrets of the Kings and her own heritage. 

With skill, Ceda's story and that of the Twelve Kings of Sharakhai unfolds using flashbacks at key pivotal moments in Ceda's young life, to heighten the plot's storyline. These snippets kept me enthralled, wanting to know more about our heroine and this enchanting city of sand and magic. Secondary characters and a strong friendship with a fellow runner round out the story while an interesting mythology is woven that I can't wait to discover more about.

Twelve Kings In Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu offers a thrilling story surrounded by a vividly Eastern inspired world full of myth and magic and a female protagonist that is one of the best I've come across recently in Epic Fantasy. I'm excited to see more from  The Song of the Shattered Sands series. Highly recommended new series to try.