Bradley P. Beaulieu is the author of The Winds of Khalakovo, the first of three planned books in The Lays of Anuskaya series. In addition to being an L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Award winner, Brad’s stories have appeared in various other publications, including Realms of Fantasy Magazine, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Writers of the Future 20, and several anthologies from DAW Books. His story, “In the Eyes of the Empress’s Cat,” was voted a Notable Story of 2006 in the Million Writers Award.
Twelve Kings (2015)
(The first book in the Song of the Shattered Sands series)
An epic new fantasy series of mystery, prophecy and death within the ancient walled city of the Twelve Kings….
In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Ceda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute.
It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Ceda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Ceda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.
As Ceda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools – they’ve ruled the Shangazi for 400 years for good reason, and they have not been idle.
As Ceda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Ceda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.
In my eternal quest for fantasy that will equal the highs and lows of emotion that i experienced with my all time favourite author David Gemmell, Gollancz is usually my first port of call (well them and Harper Voyager… ), the place i go for the nod on the next new read. This time i was intrigued by the cover and then the blurb for an author i had not heard of before Bradley P. Beaulieu. The desert people concept intrigued me, that and it had swords in the title, so there had to be some fighting (im cheap like that).
I had expected a slow burn read as the author developed this new world and the characters, but the plot didn’t unfold like that, the world was built around the plot, as the lead character learns about her past and her potential future, we also learn about the world. There is no info dumping here, just a subtle weaving and blending of myth and magic and history. The effect was enthralling, Bradley P. Beaulieu quickly became the pablo escobar of fantasy as i had to find time for my next fix of this amazingly complex yet fast paced plot, each morning waking up to find the book had slipped from my hand at some point in the early hours when exhaustion won in that nightly reading battle.
Ceda and her home of Sharakhai have been methodically planned and imagined, the heat of the desert day and chill of the night infusing the pages, the magic woven so lightly that you quickly become absorbed in the day to day exploits and trials of Ceda and Emre both battling internal and external demons past and present.
There is so much potential in this world this could be a long running series (not too long i hope, i like a series with a conclusion) we have twelve kings and a mission of revenge, we have other tribes and nations, we have gods, and magic and we have conflicting burning desires to succeed. This is a series that will enthral me and many others for some time to come im sure…. another clear winner for Gollancz and a bright start for Beaulieu.
bring on book 2
Lays of Anuskaya
1. The Winds of Khalakovo (2011)
2. The Straits of Galahesh (2012)
3. The Flames of Shadam Khoreh (2013)
To the Towers of Tulandan (2015)
2. With Blood Upon the Sand (2016)