Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu (DAW, September 1, 2015) – Çeda grew up in the desert city of Sharakhai hating the ruling twelve kings. She’s been searching for a way to avenge her mother’s murder for over a decade, and she’s growing frustrated with her lack of progress.
In an act strictly forbidden by the kings, she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, and what she experiences will finally set her plans in motion. Strange alliances will form, friends will become enemies, and Çeda will prove over and over again just how strong she is – and how far she has yet to go.
The city of Sharakhai comes to life through Beaulieu’s words. You sweat from the hot winds, grimace at the feel of sand between your teeth, squint against the blinding sun as you navigate the crowded streets of the Sharakhai’s west slums. He gives you such a vast, sturdy framework to build your picture on, and the result is a vibrant, crowded city that hints at the great cities of the Middle East. I kept expecting to hear the call of the muezzin, and then I wanted to wander over to the pits and see the White Wolf tackle one opponent after another.
The characters are just as colorful and engrossing as the city, Çeda in particular. She’s a bit of a spitfire, a skilled fighter with a smart mouth and a fierce drive to right the wrong done to her years ago. Her friend, roommate, and one time lover, Emre, lacks her courage, but makes up for it in charm and loyalty to Çeda. Their devotion to one another was one of my favorite parts of the story, to the point where I sometimes wanted to smack one or the other for keeping secrets. And what the hell is the Jade-Eyed King planning? Sneaky bastard.
It’s a gorgeous story that kept me entertained for hours, and I had a book hangover when it ended. I wasn’t ready to leave the desert behind, and I’m jittery with anticipation for the next installment of Çeda’s journey.
Copy provided by the publisher.