With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley Beaulieu (The Song of the Shattered Sands #2)

With Blood Upon the Sand is the sequel to Bradley Beaulieu’s Twelve Kings. There will be spoilers for Twelve Kings going forward, so please do not read this until after you have read the first novel. My review of Twelve Kings can be found here.
With Blood Upon the Sand is set not long after the end of Twelve Kings. Right from the start, we see that Çeda is intent on fulfilling her vow to kill the rest of the Kings after her successful attempt at the end of the last book. This novel gives us a better understanding of those Çeda has set her sights on, as well as those whose plans coincide with her own, whether furthering their own plans or seeing Çeda as a means to an end. Sharakhai’s enemies are circling the City, but does the true danger come from within the Palaces?
Çeda as part of her training as a Blade Maiden learns more about the Asirim and how she is linked to them, through memories that had previously been lost to her. During her training Çeda is taught how the Maidens need to control and call to the Asirim when they are needed. Çeda is increasingly being controlled by the Asirim’s anger at their bondage and lack of free will, but also her inaction against their shared enemies. Çeda has sworn that in freeing Sharakhai from the Kings, that she will free the 13th Tribe from their servitude.
As with the previous novel, we also get to see moments from Çeda’s past, these often proving to be useful to her in the present as she searches for the answer to the riddles left in poetry, by her mother, on how to kill the Kings. Çeda must continue to be duplicitous and more cautious than ever, this becomes harder when a new Maiden joins Çeda’s hand. This is especially true as this Maiden, Yndris, is even more certain that Çeda should never have been allowed to join the Blade Maidens and goes out of her way to find evidence that Çeda is guilty of something.
There are also a lot of returning characters from the first novel, some get more time than others. We see Ramahd and Meryam playing a larger part in the events happening in Sharakhai, which also links to the story in the novella, Of Sand and Malice. We find out a lot more about Blood Mages and what their powers entail, as well as how their powers can be used. Emre is back, but his relationship with Çeda has changed again, with Emre rising through the ranks of the Moonless Host it is sometimes hard to tell if they are working for the same purpose as the Moonless Host’s plans sometimes place them in opposition.  I also found it interesting to find out more about the eleven remaining Kings, who have their own feuds and uneasy alliances as they have lived for so many centuries.
The pacing in With Blood Upon the Sand is great, it is very descriptive and yet never boring. You really get a sense of fear for the characters wellbeing, not just physically, but emotionally. The story is very inventive with lots of twists making it heart-rending. I do have to wonder, although this is not a complaint, how many books will there be in this series if there were originally twelve Kings to kill and we are now two books in? Çeda’s story has a long way to go and I can only imagine that we are in for a tempestuous ride, especially with how the book ended on such a fantastic cliff-hanger.

9/10 The story is very inventive with lots of twists making it heart-rending

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