Twelve Kings in Sharakhai is one of those hidden beauties of the fantasy genre that has been relatively unknown since being published in 2015. For those readers looking for non-medieval epic fantasy, this is the story that will excite you and expand your horizon. This is a planned six book epic fantasy saga riddled with: ancient gods, ruthless kings, deadly creatures, and a kick-ass heroine to throw your love and support. Bradley P. Beaulieu has published a saga that is purely magical and breathtaking in its scope and execution. You will want to hold on to your hats for this one!
Deep in the heart of an ancient desert lies the holy city of Sharakhai. Home to the twelve tribes of the desert who go about their normal lives as best they can. High up on the tallest hill in the city lies the palace of the twelve kings of Sharakhai. One king for each of the twelve tribes, each containing a certain magical gift and all are considered immortal. The twelve kings rule with an iron fist, along with their army of Silver Spears, their elite company of Blade Maidens and their holy defenders, the terrifying asirim, the Kings uphold their positions as undisputed, invincible lords of the desert. There is no hope of freedom for any under their rule. That is until Ceda, a brave women breaks the kings law by going outside on the holy night of Beht Zha’ir. There she will learn the secrets of the asirim and their connections to the twelve kings. Driving by desire, pain, and determination Ceda looks to accomplish the impossible, to kill the twelve kings of Sharakhai.
Ceda is one of the best female characters written in fantasy. She is brave, smart, won’t back down a fight, and cares deeply for her friends and family. Mr. Beaulieu does a great job of showing us Ceda’s history not through info dumps, but through past and present day chapters. Ceda did not have an great childhoods to say the least and by giving us her past experiences we see her drive, pain, and rage into why Sharakhai needs to be saved and the kings destroyed. We also follow Emre, Ceda’s live long friend as he must traverse the the city with the goal of infiltrating a secret militia. Finally, we have a POV from one of the kings themselves. Here we experience the politics, court appeals, and secret alliances as not every king trust the others.
What makes this story such a gem with limitless potential is the amount of detail Mr. Beaulieu has put into the construction of the great city. From the different alley’s, to the pit fights, to the Blade Maidens and how they train, and of course the hidden secrets of the adichara trees and the magic they hold. The icing on the cake for me is, I will be vague to avoid spoilers, at some point in this book you will come across various riddles. Each one is beautifully written containing a dark secret. I would never in a million years be able to write something similar to that and it is just another day at the office for Mr. Beaulieu. The imagination and creativity brought to this novel I consider to be unrivaled.
If you are looking for a great Epic fantasy novel with a little bit of the Arabian Nights flare, then this is the place to start. I was completely blown away with the world and the characters that inhabit it. You could not ask for a more original first novel in a series and Mr. Beaulieu hits a homerun. With the first five books in the series already published, there is plenty of time to get caught up before the finale is released in 2021. Here’s to you Mr. Beaulieu, you should be proud!