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Summary

Perfect for fans of Mark Lawrence and R. Scott Bakker, The Court of Broken Knives is the explosive debut by one of grimdark fantasy's most exciting new voices.

They've finally looked at the graveyard of our empire with open eyes. They're fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust.

In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous emperor, decadence has become the true ruler and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion - and only one man can see it.

Haunted by dreams of the empire's demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the palace, they have one mission: kill the emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him - beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.

©2017 Anna Smith-Spark (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Grim, gritty and fast paced, with great battle scenes! Anna Smith-Spark is one to watch." (Andy Remic)
"Holy crap this is good!" ( Grim Tidings)
"On a par with R. Scott Bakker." ( Grimdark Alliance)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Dark. Very, very dark. Yet somehow beautiful.

Despite some odd meanders and occasional loss of momentum, this is an incredibly impressive debut.

The prose is poetic and frenetic by turns, doing a wonderful job of painting a vivid world and letting the reader feel it through the pores of some deeply flawed characters.

This world is definitely not a place for heroes but then I think that is the point. There are no heroes in any world, just people trying to survive.

Highly recommend to anyone who enjoys an interesting story with deep, human characters.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • A. Davis
  • Hastings, East Sussex United Kingdom
  • 22-10-17

Amazing first book

It’s fresh. There isn’t a stale idea in there. However this comes at a price. All the tropes and cliches you expect and love in grim dark fantasy I’m afraid don’t taste exactly as you would expect. You’ll love this if you’re hoping for something new. You’ll be disappointed if you wanted a typical grim dark fantasy. Presentation, well that’s different too. Two narrators! It gives a entirely different perspective. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a difference in performance skill between the two, so it looses a couple of stars on that, not because of the dual narration concept.
I really enjoyed this book, I loved the differences and the way it didn’t quite give me what I expected.
The story is engaging and the characters complex... boy are they complex. The story gets only four stars from me though because I felt that the end was a little too much of a bridge to the second book. Once the second book is available that will work fine but in the interim it’s really frustrating.
Overall, definitely five stars and an author to watch. Amazing first book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Didn't work for me at all.

I'm not saying this is a bad book that all reading it won't enjoy. It is quite possible it will appeal to some, but I didn't like the style of writing, which I'm hard pressed to put a finger on as to what I found wrong with it. Certainly, I found it dull. Most fantasy fiction you expect peaks and valleys in the pace, action or intrigue. This for me spent too long being bland with the story.

Most importantly what didn't work for me was the characters. In my opinion all good books start with strong well-rounded ccharacters I can care about, understand or empathise with. After about sixteen chapters I wouldn't much care if the whole lot fell into a volcano. Only one character held half of my interest, and only because he was clearly hiding something dark or sinister. Sadly this wasn't enough to keep me interested after reading so far into the book and I gave up, and it's very rare I give up on a book I've started.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the best novels I've ever listened to!

5* for the story itself, the prose and the narrators. absolutely stunning.

I've never read/heard a book written in such a way, but for me it worked... and oh did it ever!

Grim and dark for sure, and downright cringe worthy again and again. Emotional to say the least but injected with soldier banter that stops you collapsing into a well of despair.

Dragons and politics and betrayals galore.

Amrath! Amrath! Amrath!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

It's complicated

So bit unusual for me I am not sure whether I like this book or not. Some of the writing is truly stunning, the way the author truly gets inside the mind and emotions of the protagonists is fantastic and truly skilled. The gritty and fantastic backdrop often captures you and you can smell the streets and hear the crunch of footsteps. All good so far.... but the story itself was not fun, I am pretty sure that was the intention, but, and I suspect this was deliberate to ended up hating the main character and wishing him dead. So I don't think I enjoyed this book, admired yes, enjoyed not so much. As I said it's complicated.

The narration took a bit to get used to but once I was there I found fully engaging.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not my kind of book

All of the characters seemed absolutely awful. Wouldn't mind but for the lack of humour.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

More and intro to a never than a opener.

The problem with calling it book one of the bidlybong series is the author has no compunction to tell a nice little story with room to expand into books 2 and 3.

This starts well, drops you into a fully realised world. Introduces the usual damaged hero, gruff old retainer, worldly wise companion and eventually love interest.. And then starts killing off the bystanders. G R R Martin has a lot to answer for.

Then it's a sort of holding pattern to get to book 2. The eventual finale has no real emotional clout as we never meet the victims or hear their side of things. We arrive and then they die. No real surprises.

There is enough to keep you interested, random dragoon appearance, lots of blood and slaughter, a bit of gay love and a classic hero love interest. But i struggled to really like any of the characters or really care what happened to them.
I spent the last third of the story wondering why everyone was so happy to have a murdering sociopath drug addict run the show. He seemed the least likely person to care about the muddy scum slaughtering his enemies.

An odd story, interesting but frustrating and too much in love with the modern whim of killing off the characters the author gets bored of writing about.

I await the second book with interest.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful