A Veil of Spears by Bradley Beaulieu

I can't wait to see what Ceda will do next as she grows into her role as a strategist and future leader
A Veil of Spears book cover

Book of the Year 2018 (see all)

A Veil of Spears is the third book in The Songs of the Shattered Sands series, you will need to have read the previous novels to be able to understand the intricacies of this story, my review for both of these can be found here: Twelve Kings & and With Blood Upon the Sand. There may be spoilers for books one and two below, so if you haven’t started this series I would recommend that you do before reading further.

The story begins around four months after the events of Blood Upon the Sand. Çeda has been recuperating after her last battle against Mesut. Living with a wolf pack and the asir named Kerim, Çeda knows that she must continue her crusade against the Kings of Sharakhai, she just doesn’t know if she will have allies or be going forward alone. This dilemma follows Çeda throughout the story, as she has to decide whether to follow her Grandfather and fully integrate with what remains of the thirteenth tribe or try and convince the Blade Maidens, who see her as a betrayer to all they hold sacred, the truth about the asirim and the injustice they continue to face.

The story continues to follow multiple character narratives which fully show the many perspectives driving the events of this world and how they all connect with each other. Beaulieu also delves deeper into the mythology of Sharakhai, as the gods start to interact with the Kings. These gods who have been so richly described in the past now come to the fore and they seem to be out for vengeance against Nalamae’s long-ago desertion. Nalamae has long been helping Çeda and has to be more careful than she has ever been to avoid the gods and Kings detection.

We also get to see the full extent of Meryam’s powerplay, as we find out about the trades, deals and double-crossing amongst the Kings and their allies. We also see how wide the division between the Kings has grown, with Onur the King of Sloth gathering an army of desert tribes to destroy Sharakhai the remaining Kings seem to be more intent on keeping secrets from each other than maintaining strength in numbers. It looks as if even if Çeda doesn’t achieve her goal of removing the Kings and freeing the asirim, others are looking to recreate Sharakhai in their own image.

I am also enjoying that the cast of minor characters continues to grow and that characters such as Davud are being given more time, which gives us more perspective on less well-known kings and their ambitions but also how safety is also an illusion. It was also interesting to learn more about the relationship between Brama and Rümayesh and how advantageous their partnership is to each other and how they get caught up in events that give them more to do than curing those addicted to Black Lotus.

I am glad to find out that The Songs of the Shattered Sand is a series and not a trilogy, as there is definitely much more of Çeda's story to still be told. This also allows a Veil of Sands to not feel rushed as the story flows easily amongst multiple characters. As the story proceeds from events in the desert to those in Sharakhai, there are a lot of cliffhangers that make you realise the skill involved in making sure that these characters timelines match up so that the action never feels stunted. The characters feel very dynamic and you can never be certain what will happen next and at this point, what the end game will be. Beaulieu definitely feels like he is setting the story for darker times to come. I can’t wait to see what Çeda will do next as she grows into her role as a strategist and future leader.

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