The Court of Broken Knives (Empires of Dust Book 1) By Anna Smith Spark

From the Queen of Grimdark, long may she reign.

As many are aware, The Court of Broken Knives has been lauded in many a review. The buzz was such that I knew that eventually I’d get around to reading it and I couldn’t be happier to have finally done so and should’ve much sooner. I also had a beautiful signed copy from the author sitting on my shelf and glaring at me accusingly. Thanks again for that Anna, I always felt it was a beautiful tome but now for so many more reasons. For all the positive feedback, it was the negatives that finally got me reading. That won’t be the first or last time that’s happened. What some readers couldn’t abide, piques my curiosity even more. Try a sample, if it’s not for you, you will know with the first couple of chapters.

A powerful voice within a powerful story, Anna Smith Spark writes with an intensity that is rarely found. Her prose is unique, like music, with powerful sentences sometimes as short as two words. It’s a cadence and rhythm that compels the reader forward. It will definitely linger in the mind as the series is contagious and gets under your skin. Anna continues to earn the Queen of Grimdark moniker with the next two books in the series. The Tower of Living and Dying and the soon to be released The House of Sacrifice which we will hopefully see in August 2019.

Upon beginning, the reader may be a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of violence, and the unusual pacing, but as the actual story begins one begins to understand that the savagery of combat is only a part of the tale. It’s the intense emotion, feeling, and struggle of a bloody battle haze which she conveys so well and so differently.

The world building is outstanding and the protagonist, Marith, a character so flawed and unknown to us that the reader will find themselves surprised to actually want him to succeed beyond his wildest dreams before it’s done. All the characters have depth and pull readers into an emotional connection of admiration, pity, or sympathy which may take them unawares.

There are plots within plots and when the dust settles in the grand city of Sorlost, you may find yourself as shocked as some of the cast members at how fast their circumstances have changed.

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The Imperial Palace of the Asekemlene Emperor of the Sekemleth Empire of the eternal city of Sorlost the Golden is clad in white porcelain. Its towers are gilt in silver, its great central dome in gold. Its windows are mage glass, shining like sunrise. Its courtyards are hung with yellow satin, its balconies are carved of gems. Its gates are ivory and whalebone and onyx and red pearl. Its walls enclose lush silent gardens of lilac trees where green flightless birds dart and sing. Tall marble columns create cool loggias, opening onto perfumed lakes to form shaded bathing place of pale sand and dark water, purple irises and silver fish.paragraph break image

This book will by turns earn your curiosity, shock your sensibilities, break your heart, and then garner your admiration. There is blood, violence, dragons, conspiracies, casual murders, more blood, and suddenly there is love and tenderness from unexpected circumstances and people. It’s one helluva ride and this reader enjoyed every bit of it, diving directly in book two when finished.

62359019_1094031117451823_7177089019623243776_n - CopyA bloody tale filled with well told hardships, untold luxury, and a fading empire that worships death. A must read for lovers of Grimdark.

Click the cover on right to purchase your copy on Amazon.

About the book:

It is the richest empire the world has ever known, and it is also doomed–but only one man can see it.

Haunted by prophetic dreams, Orhan has hired a company of soldiers to cross the desert to reach the capital city. Once they enter the palace, they have one mission: kill the emperor, then all those who remain. Only from the ashes can a new empire be built. The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Though he is young, ambitious, and impossibly charming, something dark hides in Marith’s past–and in his blood.

  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (June 27, 2017)
  • Publication Date: June 27, 2017
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B06XCM66BC


Map copyright © Sophie E. Tallis
Author photograph by Peter Philpott
Beautiful cover design by Lauren Panepinto and
illustration by Gene Mollica and Shutterstock
Cover copyright © 2017 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.

About Anna Smith Spark

62451632_351549522213982_7539825752531795968_n - CopyAnna Smith Spark lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history and a PhD in English Literature. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website Previous jobs include petty bureaucrat, English teacher and fetish model.
Anna’s favourite authors and key influences are R. Scott Bakker, Steve Erikson, M. John Harrison, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Stewart and Mary Renault. She spent several years as an obsessive D&D player. She can often be spotted at sff conventions wearing very unusual shoes.

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