Title: Of Sand & Malice Made | Series: The Song of the Shattered Sands #0.5 | Author: Bradley Beaulieu | Publisher: Gollancz| Publication date: September 8th 2016 | Num. Pages: 240 | Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit
3.5 stars – An interesting concept of a pit fighting, steroid taking young adult.
Many thanks to Stevie F and Gollancz for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Çeda is the youngest pit fighter in the history of the great desert city of Sharakhai. In this brilliant new story, a prequel to Twelve Kings, 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, one of the sadistic creatures known as ehrekh which were forged long ago by the god of chaos. They 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 friends, her life, and her very soul.
Definitely wasn’t what I expected. After reading the blurb I was excited to read about the youngest pit fighter in Sharakhai only there wasn’t so much pit fighting as running all over the desert trying to escape from a demonic being who becomes fixated on Ceda.
Ceda is 15 when the story begins and it starts off with her picking a fight with someone who – in the beginning – gives off a secondary character kinda vibe, almost filler but ends up being an integral part of the story later on. Brama had apparently stolen a purse that Ceda wad tasked to collect and Ceda decided she’d rather fight him than find the purse. That came across as quite juvenile particularly when her “boss” pointed out the same thing that I thought.
The story progresses pretty slowly for the first 60 or 70 pages where it does eventually improve but there’s a distinctly Middle Eastern vibe to this story. It’s sort of like a twisted sci-fi type of Aladdin story.
The pit fighting is few and far between and for a character who is called the White Wolf I would have preferred a little more fighting and a little less talking but the steroidal like properties to the flower petals is amazingly unique, I don’t think I’ve ever read that in a book so kudos to that.
The writing style was a touch different to what I’m used to but it was written quite well. As mentioned above there was a distinctly Middle Eastern vibe to this story and the descriptions of the desert and other areas in Sharakhai were beautifully written and it almost made me feel like I was back on holiday in Egypt which was a lovely experience.
The concept of Rumayesh was really good – a semi corrupt demonic type being who overtakes the body of her “chosen” one – and Rumayesh took an awful big shine to Ceda which is where the story basically followed. Now having not read Twelve Kings I am completely unable to comment on how the story progresses in that book but the plot line in this novella was drawing to the mind and the descriptions of what was happening were very good.
Apart from my initial dubious feeling and the subsequent lack of pit – fighting for a story based on a pit-fighter I did enjoy Of Sand and Malice Made but I don’t think that it is entirely my thing and I don’t think I’d be continuing the story anytime soon though I do look forward to seeing where this novella leads.