In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda 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 Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda 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 Çeda 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 four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.
Okay so here comes another epic fantasy. I know what your already thinking not another Game of Thrones rip off of dragons, swords, and wizards. Well let me tell you if you think that, Twelve kings will challenge everything we hold dear within fantasy to a whole new level. From vivid fights scenes to the world in which it is set, the minute you turn its first page you are transported to a world of multiple possibilities. From ruthless rebellions, to simply describing spices within the desert market you become fully engrossed in the magnitude of what Beaulieu has created.
Written from a number of different viewpoints which there are many, really enhances this book giving the reader a chance to decide for themselves who they should trust and who they should be afraid of.
I know within Game of Thrones we have multiple viewpoints and surroundings, but this book takes them a step further diving deep into the dark spaces of each character’s mind. Whether that be Ceda’s thirst for revenge, or the complications of each king you always feel that you can’t predict what is coming next.
Our main protagonist is a young girl called Ceda, who is bent on a path to avenge her mother’s death at the hands of the kings. Twelve powerful and sinister beings who rule Sharakhai which Ceda calls home. We are given more information on each king their powers, what they can control, and how they came to gain their status as each chapter unfolds. This is what Ceda mother Ahya discovered secrets the kings want to keep buried.
The kings have ruled Sharakhai for centuries after making a deal with desert gods giving them full control over Sharakhai. Enabling them over time to create a number of dynasties the most deadly of which being the blade maidens, a group of fierce female warriors each one a daughter of the kings.
An extra lay to the plot which you rarely see within fantasy is a variety of flashbacks from Ceda’s past, giving the reader a vivid picture into how Ceda that is presented to us today was formed. They never seem out-of-place or interrupt the story helping broaden our understanding behind why Ceda is this strong-willed woman. Why she probably my favourite character in all of fantasy, is because she is that girl who goes into a bar walks straight up to the biggest and baddest guy in there smacks him straight in his face, smiles, and walks away. Beaulieu has been able to create such a strong female protagonist that male characters seem to pale in comparison. Now some might say this is a weakness within the plot, but for me it was just superb. I am so sick of reading fantasies where female characters are abused, disrespected, or have to be protected by a male. This was a refreshing change from the norm and quite simply I loved it Ceda is badass.
There are many threads to the story which help built it into a detailed and fast-moving plot, from the resistance of the moonless host a rogue group of outlaws who seek to challenge the kings, which as chapters develop begins to cause problems between Ceda and her best friend Emre who she has lived with since she was a young girl, for as the secrets between them grow their whole friendship is put at risk and could destroy them forever.
A further subplot which I loved was a set of poems left to Ceda by her mother giving clues to what secrets the kings had buried. These poems are beautifully written each one making you want to discover their meaning.
So in conclusion why should you read Twelve kings. Well if you want complex characters with well fleshed out histories, relationships that will make you question everything you thought you knew, and keep you reading till the early hours of the morning. However on the other hand a story with a dark streak running throughout. Then all I can say to you is buckle up because you are about to be taken on one hell of a ride.
Return to the desert on 7th February 2017 in book 2 With Blood Upon the Sand. To continue this epic tale and find out what happens to Ceda and the gang next.
Tell me what you like about Twelve kings? it could be anything from the world, Ceda fighting skills, or the kings themselves let me know in the comments thank you.