Twelve Kings in Sharakhai
Bradley P. Beaulieu
DAW, Sep 1 2015, $24.95
Centuries ago, desert tribes attacked the sprawling city of Sharakhai. Twelve kings united and prayed to the Gods to save their urban home. When these rulers succeeded in turning away the threat, they also became immortal. Ever since they saved Sharakhai, the twelve, kept safe by chosen Silver Spears and Blade Maidens, have ruled with ruthless domination while living in ultra-posh conditions; at the same time keeping their groveling masses in abject poverty.
When Ceda was a child, the monarchs executed her beloved mother by stringing her naked body upside down and carving an odd symbol and accusations on her skin. Obsessed with revenge, now nineteen years old Ceda has become an accomplished pit gladiator searching for a royal weakness. Her best friend Emre, also seeking ways to destroy the odious Kings, allies with heartless fanatic Macide who believes innocent blood must fall as collateral damage in order to dethrone the kings. Emre also befriends fixated with rage Ramahd, who wants to kill Macide for murdering his wife and child in the name of freedom.
The first sword and sorcery Song of the Shattered Sands fantasy is a fantastic thriller starring a wonderful avenging female gladiator. Ceda makes the tale; especially her incredible flashbacks to her beloved mom, her friendship with Emre and a connection to the White Wolf. The other viewpoint subplots are well-written, but pale next to Ceda. Although the storyline starts slow as Bradley P. Beaulieu creates Sharakhai and introduces its key cast particularly the heroine, the various Kings, and the monarchs’ opponents (afraid to even whisper rebellion); but once set the novel accelerates into an action-packed opening epic.