In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.
As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools-they’ve ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.
Beaulieu's fantasy worlds are well-imagined and richly drawn...the kind you want to keep visiting
Kirkus Speculative Reading List for September 2015
A grand tapestry of a fantasy
BRITISH FANTASY SOCIETY
I loved this book, want more of Çeda and I am fascinated by this world and its mythology (hint: I want to learn more about the Twelve Kings themselves).
A lavish epic featuring gods, gangs, gladiators and everything in-between. With its deliciously original magic system, vast new world, reckless heroine and sinister array of ageless villains, this is a must for fans of Brandon Sanderson
Jared Shurin, Pornokitsch
A positively gripping opening, a wonderful story, vivid setting and an equally gripping finale. Bring on No.2 please....I have no hesitation in recommending this book to readers of epic fantasy - it's simply wonderful and compelling to read.
This looks like the beginnings of a terrific new fantasy series, one that works largely within the accepted conventions, but finds a wealth of imaginative ways to build something new within it.
The Digital Fix
an incredibly well crafted traditional fantasy...Beauliey is excellent at keeping a tight rein on the moment-to-moment action and building up the tension and layers of mysteries.
Bradley P. Beaulieu's new fantasy epic is filled with memorable characters, enticing mysteries, and a world so rich in sensory detail that you can feel the desert breeze in your hair as you read. Çeda is hands-down one of the best heroines in the genre-strong, resourceful, and fiercely loyal to friends and family. Fantasy doesn't get better than this!
C. S. Friedman, author of The Coldfire Trilogy
Pit fighting smugglers high on steroid-like flower petals alongside immortal plutocrats, who will do anything to keep on living, make this blood and sand fueled epic fantasy something to behold. Trust me. It'll bowl-yer ass off
Justin Landon, Staffer’s Book Review and Tor.com
Exotic, sumptuous and incredibly entertaining, Beaulieu has created memorable characters in a richly imagined world
Michael J. Sullivan,, author of The Riyria Chronicles
Twelve Kings is the best new Epic Fantasy I've read in years
Mark Yon, SFFWorld
a breathtaking setting, a marvellously twisty plot, more intrigue than you can shake a stick at, and a cleverly drawn, strong protagonist to follow through it all.
Overall this is a incredulously well thought out Fantasy Adventure that keeps you on the edge of your seat, turning pages and keeping you up late into the night. It flows enticingly, with ease, for a story with so much detail and depth. Not at one point was I bored but allured as these pages are full of twists and unexpected turns, mini cliff hangers that keep you on the edge of your seat, mystery that keeps you intrigued and your mind ticking and failing that a good old scrap in the pits.
The Fantasy Book Collector
Crammed with intrigue, suspense, and stunning action sequences. Engaging characters and masterful world-building
Howard Andrew Jones, author of The Desert of Souls
This is a series that will enthral me and many others for some time to come im sure.... another clear winner for Gollancz and a bright start for Beaulieu...bring on book 2
Fantasy and horror, catacombs and sarcophagi, resurrections and revelations: The book has them all, and Beaulieu wraps it up in a package that's as graceful and contemplative as it is action-packed and pulse-pounding.
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai is the gateway to what promises to be an intricate and exotic tale. The characters are well defined and have lives and histories that extend past the boundaries of the plot. The culture is well fleshed out and traditional gender roles are exploded. Çeda and Emre share a relationship seldom explored in fantasy, one that will be tried to the utmost as similar ideals provoke them to explore different paths. I expect that this universe will continue to expand in Beaulieu's skillful prose. Wise readers will hop on this train now, as the journey promises to be breathtaking
Robin Hobb, author of Assassin's Apprentice
It's hard to take a desert novel and not draw comparisons to Dune, but Beaulieu manages to create a rich, totally individual world, teeming with wonders and wondrous characters. Çeda and Emre and their relationship rings true and draws the reader on through magic, vengeance, and above all, excitement. A hellacious start to what looks like the next towering epic fantasy
John Hornor Jacobs, author of The Incorruptibles
A beautiful richly imagined story that will end high in my top 2015 list for sure.
The Book Plank
Bradley Beaulieu has crafted a rich, fascinating world, filled it with compelling characters, and blended them into an epic tale that grabbed my attention on the first page and refused to let go. I look forward to more stories of Sharakhai
David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson, author of Rules of Ascension and Thieftaker
The protagonist, pit-fighter Çeda, is driven but not cold, and strong but not shallow. And the initial few scenes of violence and sex, while very engaging, soon give way to a much richer plot. Beaulieu is excellent at keeping a tight rein on the moment-to-moment action and building up the tension and layers of mysteries - (9/10 Rating)
I am impressed... An exceedingly inventive story in a lushly realized dark setting that is not your uncle's Medieval Europe. I'll be looking forward to the next installment
Glen Cook, author of The Black Company
Bradley Beaulieu builds a complex world around the city state - it's just as alive and characters, a fascinating fantasy realm that you'll wish you could visit. Ceda herself is much like the city: fiery and complicated
A memorable heroine, a poetically told tale of revenge, and superb world-building make Twelve Kings in Sharakhai a splendid read
John Marco, author of The Jackal of Nar and The Eyes of God
Beaulieu has created something altogether vivid and perfectly natural...Though Twelve Kings ends its narrative at a suitable point to stop and draw breath, I'm eager to read the next installment and disappointed that I will have to wait another year to do so.
Forbidden Planet International
Twelve Kings blends together action and adventure with political intrigue to create a wonderfully engrossing hybrid. Well rounded characterisation and an enthralling plot are elevated further by some truly effective world-building. Fans of epic fantasy are going to get a real kick out of this.
The Eloquent Page
Twelve Kings is a beautifully rich, absorbing novel, the beginning of a promising epic fantasy series.
it all makes for what is probably going to be one of THE fantasy books of the year and a series that will surely be up there with the Big Boys
Brad Beaulieu's Twelve Kings in Sharakai isn't the same as the last epic fantasy you read. Like the desert sands of Sharakhai, this first volume of Beaulieu's new series is a constantly shifting narrative of betrayal and friendship, loyalty and vengeance. Leave the farm boys to their chickens and the scullions to their pots, because Çeda's bringing a knife to this fight. It's vivid and diverse, full of complex relationships, eye-opening magic, and world building for this new age of fantasy that's broken out of its medieval shackles
Aidan Moher, A Dribble of Ink
The Song of the Shattered Sands