“The swordsman made no sound as the bandages came off.”
When word reaches the Emperor of Shiang that the revered Mazer sword techniques are being taught in far off Darien, he realises that his traitorous uncle might be behind it. Gathering four of the greatest swordsmen, he tasks them with bringing the renegade back for punishment. Elsewhere in the city, a lesser but still brilliant swordsman is slowly dying of a plague. When his care is handed over to the viperous Lord Ran, neither party can predict the outcome of the ‘healing’ experiments…
And over the other side of the mountains, Darien prepares for a war foreseen in a vision granted by one of the city’s twelve magical stones, each held by one of the ruling families. The two cities seem destined to clash, but who will win the day?
I thoroughly enjoyed the first in this series, Darien, the first venture into fantasy by historical writer Conn Iggulden, so I was thrilled to see the sequel available on NetGalley. Like its predecessor, the book is named after a city in this strange, magical world. I was momentarily a little discombobulated (heh) to start off in a new location, but the two soon draw together, and it’s interesting to see a contrasting view to Darien. Also intriguing is mention of Rome… is this our world, in some strange way?
We don’t get an answer to that here, or quite frankly enough about events from the first book, but I’m hopeful for more in the series. What we do get is high fantasy tinged with dark magics, an East-meets-West clash of cultures, and an epic adventure done in one volume rather than the ‘usual’ sixteen… 😉
There’s still an awful lot to find out about this world. Where do the stones come from, what is their power really, and what else is out beyond the walls of Darien? More, please!
NetGalley eARC: 368 pages / 25 chapters
First published: September 2018
Series: Empire of Salt book 2
Read from 4th-20th September 2018
My rating: 8/10