Darien: Empire of Salt by C.F. Iggulden

Review published on August 13, 2017.

Darien is a new epic fantasy series that tells of 12 aristocratic families, ruled by one Monarch (although indirectly, more so via the wider 12 families). Yet, somehow the Empire of Salt has been ruled in a way that has preserved peace. Mercenaries, however, are hired to murder the king, with terrifying consequences, as the political tolerances evaporate and all rules are disregarded. Each family seeks to become the most powerful and rule the throne. In their quest they use any familial magical power or advantage that they can acquire and boy can they scheme!

Told from six differing points of view, this is a very engaging novel, with a large cast and complex world, which has a long history. Each of the chapters is told by a different character, namely Elias, Tellius, Arthur, Daw, Nancy, and Deeds, as they get wrapped up in the schemes of the Twelve Ruling Families. Hence, their stories intertwine with highly entertaining and tense results. Whilst all the main characters are bold and memorable, Deeds has to be the favourite for his reluctant hero mentality. He just wants a steady uncomplicated life, but being a hunter with a magical power, referred to as his knack, trouble seems to surround him. However, when blackmailed into using his knack to gain advantage in the fight for power or lose his daughters, his threatening menace begins to simmer.

Nancy appears to have a knack that absorbs magic out of the limited people or objects holding in such power. She can then manifest this power into the use of flame throwing, but those with their powers removed are then rendered powerless. As yet she doesn’t really know how to use these. So we don’t want her and Deeds paths to cross as he needs his power to keep himself and his daughters safe. Bloody battles ensue and strange magical foe are engaged in strategic and military schemes. The pace is good, the vision of the world of Darien is bold and the political ramifications are complex and conveyed very impressively. There is plenty of action amidst the initial world and character building of the first in a book of a series. But with much more clearly to come, this is a highly recommended read for fantasy readers.

Sara Garland 5/3

Darien: Empire of Salt by C.F. Iggulden
Michael Joseph 9780718186463 hbk Jul 2017

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