cover image Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

Bradley P. Beaulieu. DAW, $24.95 (592p) ISBN 978-0-7564-0972-2

Beaulieu (the Lays of Anuskaya series) presents a complex alternative-world sword and sorcery setting in this lumbering but effective first entry in the Song of the Shattered Sands series. This big novel takes its time introducing the desert metropolis known as Sharakhai, where 12 immortal lords live in luxury and everyone else scrabbles for scraps. Nineteen-year-old Ceda’s mother was executed by the Kings years ago; now Ceda is a hardened gladiator seeking ways to undermine the Kings’ magical powers. In addition to Ceda’s scheming, the action is driven by her friend Emre, whose hatred of the Kings allies him with the merciless terrorist Macide, and by Ramahd, who is pursuing Macide to avenge his slain wife and child. The novel finally earns its length in a subterranean battle for control of a resurrected blood mage with a private agenda. Overall, this is an impressive performance. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. (Sept.)