Bookends | #004

Of Sand and Malice Made & Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P Beaulieu

I cannot believe it’s the last Friday of January. The sun has even shined this week! I know February and March are usually the darker, wetter months of the year, but February is *the* birthday month in my family so I’m excited that it is around the corner. I hope January has treated you all well and that your start to 2018 has been awesome. My reading week has been far better than last, no 1 star ratings and a new favourite book/series/author! Let’s get to it.

I finished the wonderful Twelve Kings by Bradley Beaulieu at the weekend and woah. What a ride! I feel sad that I left it so long before picking it up, but then at the same time I have two more books in the series to dive into straight away with the third due out very soon, so in a way, it’s good that I left it, right? Do you ever feel like that? Weird one isn’t it. Anyway… I really, really enjoyed this book. I posted a book review of it earlier this week which sums up all my feelings, so you can go read that if you’d like to know more about it.

I started a new audiobook this week too, The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley. I remember seeing a lot of hype around this series a few years ago so when I saw that it was on sale in Audible and that it’s narrated by Simon Vance, I had to pick it up. So far it seems to be a pretty standard fantasy story, the Emperor has died (or was he murdered? I hope I’ll find out…)  and he leaves behind three children;

  • Adare – the eldest – female – unable to inherit but is given the position of finance minister in the council – left to deal with the fall out of the Emperor’s sudden death
  • Valyn – middle child – male – has been sent to train in the Annurian Empire’s deadliest fighting force – hears of the Emperor’s death and immediately worries about the safety of his young brother…
  • Kaden – the youngest – male – the heir – sent to a monastery at the end of the world (or so it feels like) to learn from the monks – does not know (as yet) that his father has died and he is the new Emperor

We haven’t seen much of the court politics surrounding Adare and the death of her father so I can’t really comment on that, but I do hope we get more from her as at the moment the males are dominating the plot. Saying that, I love Valyn’s storyline. I like that due to the nature of his training, his chapters are full of intrigue and action. He believes that his father’s death was a plot to rid the Empire of his whole family so not only is he worried about his younger brother, he also believes his life is in danger. A bit arrogant yes, especially as he isn’t the heir. But he seems to be fairly sensible and has a diverse mix of friends and enemies who help propel his storyline along towards the looming trial that will test the to the brink of death – will their years of training have paid off? So far, so good. Nothing new or groundbreaking, but told well enough that I want to know what happens next. Although I’m not sure yet how he will figure into the wider plot.

Kaden on the other hand is quite boring to read about. He doesn’t really understand why he has to train with the monks and resents it. He’s not overtly obnoxious about it but his apathy translates in the writing and I don’t particularly care either way what he does. At the moment, his mentor has buried him up to the chin in the ground and left him there for 7 days. Why? Who knows? He doesn’t care, why should I? There are hints in some of the summaries I have read online that he has some buried magical power and I really hope that we see some of that soon because at the moment I’m rooting for the bad guys – whoever they are – to kill him off so we can see what Valyn does. He, at least, has some sort of get-go about him, although he does have a bit of maturing to do.

I’m just shy of half way through and at the moment it’s okay. It’s keeping me interested. The ideas and characters have potential, but the execution could be better. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those books that’s average for the first 70% but has a fantastic ending which leaves everyone wanting more and giving it lots of great reviews. We’ll see.

I also started and finished Of Sand and Malice Made, the prequel novella to Twelve Kings. It was good – it follows Ceda as she encounters an evil being forged by the god of Chaos in the streets of Sharakai and explores how she conquered (ish) it before it corrupts everyone she holds dear. I thought it was a bit slow to get going considering it was only a short book (226 pages) but it did pick up towards the end. I’m not the biggest fan of short stories, especially fantasy ones, as there’s never enough time to dig deep and build upon the world and the characters. I thought the characters we already knew fell a bit flat, namely Ceda, Emre, Tariq and Osman, but the introduction of Brama and Rumayesh was interesting. I believe these characters may crop up again later in the series so I’m glad I’ve read the story of how Ceda & Emre met them and what happened etc… I think I was expecting a little bit more, but it is still a welcome addition to the series and has made me soooo excited to dive into the second book, Blood Upon the Sand. Bring it on!

Have you read anything exciting (or not!) this week? I’d love to chat more in the comments.

Happy Friday and happy reading!

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