Book Review: A Veil of Spears
Due to some personal circumstances, I had to wait a lot longer than I wanted to before I could read A Veil of Spears. Fortunately, it was worth the wait--this third installment of the Song of Shattered Sands is my favorite of the series so far.
In the aftermath of With Blood Upon the Sand, Ceda goes into desert and reunites with her family, the leaders of the Moonless Host. With Tauriyat in uproar and King Onur raising an army in the desert, the Host takes this opportunity to strike back. Ceda, meanwhile, returns to Sharakhai to gain more allies and puzzle out the mystery of King Mesut's bracelet. If she can find a way to free the asirim trapped within, she might be able to save her people.
That is a really, really, overly-simplistic summary of a very long and complex book. There's an awful lot happening here: Ihsan scheming against the other kings, Ramahd and Meryam trying to fulfill their promises to the ehrekh (and in the process, angering another), Davud learning more about blood magic while working for Sukru to identify an illness of the adichara, Emre on a mission for the Host to bring the desert tribes into an alliance against Onur and the other kings...the list goes on and on and on.
And in a rare display of talent, almost all of these disparate story threads are equally interesting. In most multi-POV books, I find myself looking forward to certain POVs and yawning when I come across others. That was not the case in A Veil of Spears, where each POV was exciting in its own way.
Needless to say, then, that the pacing is excellent. Despite its massive length, I cleared it in just a few days. There's never a dull moment here; even the quiet ones bring small revelations or important character developments. Unlike With Blood Upon the Sand, which dragged in the middle, A Veil of Spears never loses its momentum as it drives toward its conclusion.
And what a conclusion! Beaulieu gave us an epic battle in With Blood Upon the Sand, and yet somehow he manages to one-up himself here with the confrontation in the desert. TWO ehrekhs take the field, as well as dozens of ships, a dragon, most of the kings, freed asirim spirits...it's insane, and yet it never feels overwhelming.
This is saying nothing of the big revelations this book brings. Onur apparently doesn't want to be a king anymore. Dragons are apparently a thing (see above), as are necromancy and golems. There's something growing beneath the adichara, and it's important enough that the goddess Yerinde herself appears to speak with the kings about it. Nalamae gets more involved too, on the side of the Host. And if all that's not enough, we find out who Ceda's father is (at least, if you can believe Ihsan).
And the king death toll keeps climbing ever higher. There's only a few left now.
Then there are the character moments. Sumeya was one of my favorite characters from the previous book, so it pleased me to see Ceda win her back here. Davud finally came together for me here, whereas I didn't care for him in the previous novel. His dilemma over whether to run away or stay on Tauriyat, combined with his worry for Anila and her newfound abilities, made him a lot more compelling. Ramahd has always been interesting, but we get an entirely new dimension to him here as he comes completely unmoored.
And then there's Emre and Ceda, together in a moment of calm before the storm. After a book spent almost entirely apart, their reunion is so heartwarming.
I'm gushing, I know, but it's wonderful to get a book you've been waiting for and have it exceed your expectations. I am so excited for Beneath the Twisted Trees!