Review: Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Series: The Song of the Shattered Sands #0.5
Also by this author: Twelve Kings in Sharakhai
Published by DAW on September 6th 2016
Also in this series: Twelve Kings in Sharakhai
Çeda, the heroine of the widely anticipated, just-released novel Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, is the youngest pit fighter in the history of the great desert city of Sharakhai. In this prequel, she has already made her name in the arena as the fearsome, undefeated White Wolf; none but her closest friends and allies know her true identity.
But this all changes when she crosses the path of Rümayesh, an ehrekh, a sadistic creature forged long ago by the god of chaos. The ehrekh are usually desert dwellers, but this one lurks in the dark corners of Sharakhai, toying with and preying on humans. As Rümayesh works to unmask the White Wolf and claim Çeda for her own, Çeda’s struggle becomes a battle for her very soul.
In case you missed my review, I chose Twelve Kings of Sharakhai for my Backlist Burndown book in August and absolutely loved it. So when I saw there was a novella releasing this month, I was very anxious to read it.
This novella could easily be used as an introduction to Çeda and the world Beaulieu has created in The Song of the Shattered Sands series. Çeda was one of my favorite parts of Twelve Kings of Sharakhai as I love her strength in spirit as well as her strength in the fighting pits. Of Sand and Malice Made is an interesting look into Çeda at an earlier time in her life.
Prequels are interesting beasts. I have read some where the suspense of the story was ruined by what I learned in previous books (books that were published first but chronologically occur after the prequel). But then there are other prequels that manage to create a self contained story that is new to you, gives an interesting story and background to a character you were already familiar with and weaves a tale that is still full of suspense despite you having read a story that occurs after. It can be a great way to help the reader understand more of what is going on by learning about history and events that were at least relative mysteries prior to the novella. Information that you didn’t miss, that is not essential to the other books, but that enhances understanding and entertains while reading something completely new. Of Sand and Malice Made firmly lands in the latter category. It is a prequel story done extremely well, and I believe it is one the could easily be read before or after Twelve Kings of Sharakhai.
In Of Sand and Malice Made, Çeda is early in her pit fighting career. She is younger, and that can be seen in her personality and decisions. The story revolves around her entanglement with Rumayesh, an ehkreh, or in put into plain terms, a demonic type of creature that has the ability to steal memories as well as potentially hijack bodies. And this one has fixated on Çeda. Not good. Çeda must find a way to free herself of this powerful foe.
This may be a novella length story (at about 200 pages), but the story felt richer and deeper than I would expect for that page count. Highly recommend this book and series. Honestly my only negative comment is that I can’t get my hands on a copy of the next book in this series quite yet.