Title / Twelve Kings
Author / Bradley Beaulieu
Publication Date / 2015
Page no. / 592
Star Rating / ★★★.5
This book follows Ceda, a young woman orphaned by the Twelve King’s law. She has vowed for revenge for her mother’s execution. We meet her as she begins a fight in the pits, within the city of Sharakhai. When Ceda is given a job that takes her outside on the holy night of Beht Zha’ir, which goes against the King’s law, everything will change for her. What she learns will take her on a path to discover more of the mysterious history of the Kings, as well as the riddles of her own past. This is the first instalment in a new epic fantasy series, but I don’t know how long the series is intended to be. First off, the setting is quite unique for a fantasy. Gone is the traditional medieval castle setting, and it is replaced by Sharakhai, the great desert city. It is a political and cultural centre of trade and attracts a variety of people. I really enjoyed this desert city and thought Beaulieu wove an amazing new world. There are many distinct cultures in this book that create a diverse setting, and the rich history only adds to the world building. You not only get an interesting new city surrounded by a literal sea of sand, but you also get the culture, history and politics of the great city. All done in amazing detail. However I will say that the amount of information we get, especially in the first half of the book, means that the pacing is quite slow. I imagine this may be a problem for some, so just be aware that the pacing can sometimes be quite slow.
Next let’s talk about the characters. I think that Ceda is a great female character, who can take care of herself but also has flaws. I also really appreciated the fact the society in Sharakhai has no gender boundaries. We meet Ceda as she begins a fight in the fighting pits of the city, but nobody questions her ability to fight for being a women. I appreciated this. Back to Ceda – I enjoyed her character, for the most part and will be interested to see how she develops in later books. I personally got abit frustrated with her single-mindedness to avenge her mother and find the answers to the riddles of the Twelve Kings, but all in all her pursuit for answers is done quite well. Ceda relationship with Emre, her best friend, is really enjoyable to read, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it may progress to romances which bothers me abit. I would much prefer them staying friends and watch their dynamics switch and change as they grow. We will see how their relationship progresses. Overall his characters are extremely well done – they are all intriguing and leave me wanting to know more about them.
Now to my main issue with the book – the pacing. As I mentioned earlier, the pacing can be abit slow. The use of flashbacks and the changes in perspective can sometimes be quite jarring. The flashbacks would not just be a scene, but whole chapters dotted throughout the book. I personally felt that it dragged the plot – already quite slow as it is. Part of it is personal preference as I am not a huge fan of flashbacks. While reading, the plot will wander off onto tangents, which are quite interesting but do distract from the main narrative. Overall it has quite a slow, meandering pacing and we seem to spend some time just reading about Ceda brooding about one thing or another related to the mystery of her past and the Twelve Kings. There were also some quite predictable plot twists, but I thought that Beaulieu built up to them quite well. For me personally, the slower pacing wasn’t a dealbreaker, but it is something to be aware of going in. Overall I did enjoy this book and I am interested to see how it will progress in the next books.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and I am interested to see where things will go in the next books. I would definitely recommend this book if you are a big fan of fantasy, particularly epic fantasy and/or don’t mind a slow, meandering pace. Also a great book to read if you are tired of the medieval fantasy setting. I personally think the setting is one of the best things about this book, alongside the unique cast of characters. The details in this book are incredible so I think it will also have great rereading potential – I think I will pick up on things that I maybe hadn’t noticed or hadn’t given much thought too in my first read. However if you prefer fast-paced, action-packed fantasy than this probably isn’t for you. I am really pleased I picked this up and I am looking forward to whenever the next book is released.
Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought of it. Have a wonderful day.
See you next time.