100-Character Breakdown: A masterful start to a vibrant fantasy series with complex narrative. World building at its finest.
Genre: Fantasy, diverse lit
Publisher: DAW Books (September 2015)
A masterful start to a vibrant fantasy series, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu is world building at its finest. The novel is primarily set deep in the Great Shangazi Desert city of Sharakhai, where Çeda dreams of slaying the twelve immortal kings that rule the city. She finds herself venturing outside of her home on Beht Zha’ir despite the Kings’ laws to stay inside. The night is just the beginning of her search to understand her own heritage and find a way to stop the Kings. She soon finds out there is much more happening behind the scenes in Sharakhai than she ever realized.
In addition to Çeda, Beaulieu dives into the stories of several other characters, from her longtime friend Emre to the revenge-driven Rahmad to one of the Kings. All of these characters have different goals, and the mixture of narratives provides the reader with an interesting and satisfying look into the different factions at play. It also forces the reader to empathize with Çeda as she struggles to discover who to trust; the reader will find themselves unsure of who to root for. But what will really captivate readers is the world these characters live in. The intricate, luscious setting of the Shangazi Desert makes this novel unique and profound. Between the gods and the tribes, the world of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai breathes on the page. There is a deep history to Sharakhai, and Beaulieu reveals it artfully alongside the book’s elaborate plot. By the end of the book, there is so much story left to tell. Readers will wait eagerly for the continuation of this exciting new fantasy.