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Monday, 14 September 2015
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!
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.
Oh my this book was....sweeping, engrossing, absorbing...astounding. It really gave my imagination a stretch and was filled with all the things I love in a good fantasy novel, I couldn't put it down and as the book was coming to a close I was desperately hoping for it to carry on longer. The wait for the next book will be difficult, as while some questions where answered, there where many left unanswered and I'll probably spend time thinking back on those questions. Not to mention the fact that the next book, and in fact the rest of the series, was expertly set up without sacrificing any of the plot of this book. It was a rich fantasy read and the kind you end up completely obsessed with and fully invested in.
There is nothing quite like a book that starts off with a cracking fight scene, you're straight in there and you just know you're going to love it. From that point it was all go really, there was plenty of action as you're drawn in to the world and start to learn about it. And what a world it is. But more on that in a moment. We're talking action right now, and the book has plenty of it. Fight scenes that will have your pulse racing and have you on the edge of your seat, and kind of have you wishing you where as badass as Çeda. They where perfectly written and you could practically see it happening before your eyes, and along with the fast pace, you end up pretty much glued to the book.
As for the world, it was astounding and so fantastically crafted. It was so vivid you could smell the smells of the bazaar, see Çeda and her friends, feel the atmosphere and the vibe of the place. It pulls you in to the world of the book perfectly and has you completely engrossed. I don't think I have accurate words to describe just how completely amazing the world building was. I'm so itching to see more of the world that was created, you get the impression it's fairly extensive and there's much of it to be explored, and I hope we can in the next book!
The book also has a very rich background history to it, as well as intricate legends and myths. I was fascinated reading about this other world and their history, politics, Gods, customs and so on. Completely riveted and loving reading every little bit about it, especially as all of it was woven in to the plot instead of one massive info dump. The sections of it in the plot that where kind of chunky, where written so compellingly that you didn't really notice if it was a long passage just on the history/mythology of it, and you always wanted to know more and more about the world.
Çeda is my kind of character. I loved her determination and tenacity, her intelligence, her skills and learning more about her page by page and in each flashback chapter. You rooted for her from the start, and then more and more as you learned more. You where on her side, willing her to do well, to achieve what she wanted. Like if some other character was mean to her, then you kinda disliked that character and where like "boo you". I can't describe quite what it is, but I just loved her. I wanted to know more about her, she came alive off the page and helped to bring the world of the book to life. I just understood her and how she operated.
There's a cast of incredibly interesting and colourful characters in the book, each as lively as Çeda, each so well written that they come to life off the page. Emre, who had such a depth of backstory to him, such emotion and who you kind of wanted to smack at times, but liked him nonetheless and kind of rooted for him to do the right thing. Ramahd, who you felt for but also....kinda wanted to smack because clearly Meryam was up to no freaking God and he's completely blind to it or whatever. He, like Emre, had a tragic backstory and there was more to him than met the eye. The Kings, you get one King's point of view along with Emre, Ramahd and Çeda and he was an...interesting point of view, he's clearly playing some kind of game but we still don't know what. Each King is so different from the others and we didn't get to meet all of them properly, so I'm excited to meet more of them properly.
These are just some of the main characters. There are plenty of other characters, The Blade Maidens, I'm so eager to learn more about them, particularly the ones in Çeda's Hand. We where just starting to get to know them towards the end of this book. There's Macide and his...group, who are most certainly more than they appear, but I can't say more because spoilers. The Asirim who have an interesting background and who you want to know more about because you want to understand them. For most of the book they're these incredibly sinister figures and then towards the end your perception of them changes entirely. There's so many other characters who where so well characterised and brought to life despite the fact they where a lesser character and not seen often.
There are different POV's, like I mentioned above, and they each add interesting threads to the main threads of the story being woven. The plot really does thicken with each POV change and new bit of information learned. Not to mention the flashback chapters that add plenty of extra threads. You end up with such a deep understanding of the world and characters, as well as knowing something big is coming and not all is as it seems. Each change is perfectly timed and smoothly changes from narrative to narrative, each as engaging as the last.
I realize I've been mentioning all these characters and rich and intricate history to the world. Don't get me wrong though. I should mention that while the world has a complex structure to it, it's described so you can easily understand and come to grips with it fairly early on. Everything after that just adds to it rather than adding confusion, it enhances your understanding of the world and takes you deeper in to the world.
Twelve Kings is easy to read and follow, is what I'm saying, it's not over complicated with the writing or having too many characters to keep track of without some kind of spreadsheet, like with Game of Thrones. It's complex and intricate without confusing you or making it hard to read. It's a complex fantasy you truly can't put down and enjoy because you can easily get to grips with the world and who's who and everything else. You never felt like the book was too long or like it was dragging, you actually wanted more and more and wanted it to carry on for a good couple hundred more pages.
I loved all of the Gods and mythology behind them. Now that is one area I really want to know more about because again, there's clearly more than meets the eye and it's one of the incredibly fascinating areas. I'd love to actually see more of them in the next book too because I'm so intrigued by them.
Twelve Kings is a blend of past and present, like I've already mentioned, there are looks in to the past that show you what happened to bring the characters to the place they are at when we meet them in the book, that show you how they became the way they are and give you an incredibly deep understanding of the character. The flashbacks answer questions about characters, and the flashbacks are always relevant to an upcoming chapter or a chapter that had recently gone by. A lot of the time I read the flashback chapters and I was like "aaaaaah".
As well as this fantastically done blend, and a complex plot, there where so many twists and turns and these twists and turns got more shocking as you raced towards the end of the book. I was always surprised, I'd have kind of half worked out a reveal and then be either, you know, half right, or completely wrong or kind of right but with an added bit of information I hadn't worked out. The book kept me on my toes that's for sure!
Twelve Kings is a skilfully written, complex and engrossing book, set within a rich and vividly created world with characters that, no matter how big a part they have, come to life off the page due to their characterisation and depth. The plot is thrilling, compelling, intricate and gives us one part of a large overall story that's going to be one hell of a ride. You find yourself constantly surprised, caught up in moments of suspense, and practically holding your breath during the fantastically written fight scenes. There's rich mythology and history to the world that helps bring it to life, and the book, while complex, is still easy to get to grips with concerning said rich history and politics. I loved every page and can't wait for the next book to get back to the world!