Rating – 7.5/10
The plans of the desert gods are coming to fruition. Meryam, the deposed queen of Qaimir, hopes to raise the buried elder god, Ashael, an event that would bring ruin to the desert.
Çeda and Emre sail for their ancestral home to bring the traitor, Hamid, to justice. To their horror, they discover that the desert tribes have united under Hamid’s banner. Their plan? A holy crusade to annihilate Sharakhai, a thing long sought by many in the tribes. In Sharakhai, meanwhile, the blood mage, Davud, examines the strange gateway between worlds, hoping to find a way to close it. And King Ihsan hunts for Meryam, but always finds himself two steps behind.
When Meryam raises Ashael, all know the end is near. Ashael means to journey to the land that was denied to him an age ago, no matter the cost to the desert. It now falls to Çeda and her unlikely assortment of allies to find a way to unite not only the desert tribes and the people of Sharakhai, but the city’s invaders as well. Even if they do, stopping Ashael will cost them dearly, perhaps more than all are willing to pay.
I received an advanced read copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It is always a bitter sweet feeling when coming to the concluding volume of a six book epic. You feel elated at finishing but sad at the same time saying goodbye to such wonderful characters which I have grown to love over the years. The desert is literally torn in the destruction of war and the overall politics of the gods. How does Bradley P. Beaulieu stick the landing? Quite well and I only wish he revisits this world once again. This will be a spoiler free review, but I will be touching upon some events in the previous books.
Ceda and Emre seem to be fighting against the tides of a civil war among the desert tribes. The traitor Hamid has united the thirteen tribes and plans to attack Sharakhai with their full military forces. Ceda has no choice but to demand a meeting of the tribe leaders and ask for a trial to determine the guilt of Hamid and Ceda knows she needs to find overwhelming proof of Hamid’s deception. She may need to seek the painful memories of her past and that of the acacia tree for guidance. The blood mage Davud is investigating the slow death of the twisted trees and how the asirim are sacrificing themselves to keep the last few trees alive. With the gateway between worlds opening more and more by the day, Davud will need to seek the guidance of the blood mage council and find a solution to this endeavor. Meryam, the fallen queen of Qaimir, plans to seek vengeance of the kings and desert tribes by raising a dead god. She soon learns the location of the burial site and will pay a great sacrifice to raise him from the dead.
The first half of the novel is buildup for the action packed conclusion to the series, but I enjoyed the earlier chapters tremendously. The author introduces an interesting concept in this novel called water dancing. Water dancers are basically seers who use water in order to predict the future but they need to do it in a group. This will have massive implications for the rest of the book and I love it when authors use this writing technique especially when the prediction turns out to be different. The only shame is that I wish we were introduced to these seers in a earlier volume. The action really picks up in the second half with a satisfyingly but somewhat predictable ending. Some of the conclusions for our characters will not make every reader happy especially the fate of one of the kings. These are my only tidbits with the story as it was a nonstop ride and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
This underrated epic is and will continue to be among my favorite fantasy series in the SFF genre. It provides something different, engaging, shocking, and all around kickass action the whole way through. There is nothing more I can say that will prepare you to jump into the streets of Sharakhai except WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!