The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark
Book of the Month
"Not sure I really feel like fucking someone who's part god and part suicidal drunk, you know"
I received an advanced copy of The Court of Broken Knives via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Anna Smith Spark and Harper Voyager.
2017 has been a stunning year for adult fantasy debuts and the trend absolutely continues with The Court of Broken Knives (book one of Empires of Dust) which will surely become a grimdark classic. The beginning sees readers following a crew of mercenaries as they approach Sorlost, the empire's richest and arguably, most important City to complete a mission that could change the world.
I loved the manner in which the writing is surprisingly poetic throughout the tale, aiding to create beautiful prose. The novel includes grimdark fans favourite elements such as betrayal, battles, brutal deaths, characters who are bastards that I loved to hate, Gods with strange motives, and dragons! If anything, many of the gory scenes hit harder because of how stunningly pretty some of the writing is. The narrative sometimes has as infectious, trance-like flow that I thought was excellent. In addition, occasionally the action is so fast and intense that my eyes weren't able to keep up with the reading pace that my brain wished to employ which left me feeling utterly breathless.
To begin with, this story reminded me of C.F. Iggulden's Darien with the political unrest and potential overthrowing of an Emperor and like Iggulden's story, I thought The Court Of Broken Knives would all take place in one impressive and giant City. I was incorrect. We explore what I imagine is a vast and diverse amount of this world, seeing different races, mythological creatures and expansive settings. The history and religions seem expertly created. The map presented within the book looks gorgeous too (although I couldn't zoom in on my advanced e-version.) Great cartography by the artist and a well-crafted world by Anna.
There are four main characters that readers follow, and I won't say too much about them as they are the main drawing point for grimdark classics, but they don't disappoint. The four major individuals are a mercenary captain, a new recruit, a priestess and a politician. I really liked three out of the four characters. Although they all have merits, I didn't like reading about one of them as much. They are all presented in the third person perspective sometimes switching between multiple characters views smoothly in the same chapter. A few, what seems like short interludes, have one of these four characters occasionally speaking in the first person. Slightly confusing but I have faith that this is a device that has been utilised for a reason. We are also presented a few mysterious interludes featuring a dark-haired boy and a light-haired boy and these were really engaging.
Like some epic fantasy, the peculiar names given to characters and places can be confusing so I hope the finished book includes a dramatis personae. It wasn't much of an issue but is worth pointing out that and in addition, if you don't read the book for a few days you might find yourself slightly lost and have to re-skim previous chapters. These aren't really negatives and if anything they are familiar issues with the highest calibre fantasy releases. The more effort you put in the greater the affinity with the ensemble and their final outcomes. The ending of this book is fantastic and if I am reading it right, a potential action could go one of two very diverse ways. Whatever the outcome is, I will 100% own book #2 as soon as I can. Anna and this world have so much to offer. Although the story is self-contained it leaves more questions, intrigue and loose threads than the majority of debut books this length. I guess that just means I will think about it more which can't be a bad thing.
This book truly is grimdark of the highest order with one of the most complex, beautiful and destructive characters ever written. Queen of Grimdark is a pseudonym well earned. If you mixed beauty, darkness, complexity, death and poetry then you would have something that is a lot like Smith Spark's debut.
This The Court of Broken Knives book review was written by James Tivendale
All reviews for: Empires of Dust
The Court of Broken Knives
Empires of Dust #1
They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we pi...
Have you read The Court of Broken Knives?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Court of Broken Knives reader reviews
9/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Red Queen's War
The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other. Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line t...
A Song of Ice and Fire
George RR Martin
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robe...
The Inheritance Trilogy
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky - a palace above the...
Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies...
As shadows threaten to consume the kingdom of Southmarch, Barrick Eddon, heir to March throne, battles his way across the sinister Shadowlands. He must journey through this...
The Goblin Emperor
The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his fath...
War with the Mein
David Anthony Durham
Ruling from the island of Acacia, the emperor of the Known World has inherited an apparent peace and prosperity won by his ancestors generations ago. He's an intelligen...
Kings of Paradise
An island prince searches for meaning; a deformed genius struggles to survive. In a changing world where ash meets paradise, only one man can be king…Ruk...
A thousand years ago, the people of Achar drove the Forbidden from their lands. But now the northern tribes of the Ravensbund are fleeing south again, with nightmarish tale...
The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow...
The Walkers of Legend
Two young men are thrown to opposite sides of a war where both will fight to prevent their homeland, the world’s last pocket of free people, from being consumed by a ...
Mark Charan Newton
The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years by laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, nations...
The Ninth Rain
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the real...
Michael R Fletcher
When belief defines reality, those with the strongest convictions—the crazy, the obsessive, the delusional—have the power to shape the world.And someone ...
Brood of Bones
Cursed with endless drowsiness, Enchantress Hiresha sleeps more than she lives. Since she never has had a chance to raise a family, she sometimes feels like every woman is ...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: