Review: Shiang

Posted September 10, 2018

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Shiang Shiang by C.F. Iggulden
Series: Empire of Salt #2
Published by Michael Joseph on 6th September 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads

IF THESE STONES COULD SPEAK . . . THEY WOULD CALL FOR WAR.

In Shiang, the young king rules without dissent. Mazer swordsmen stand watch on every corner, looking for the first sign of rebellion. This city is a place of quiet and slow dignity, like a man eating rice with a razor pressed against his throat.

Yet with one sharp movement, order is overturned. The balance of centuries is undone in the sudden spill of blood - and in the darkness, something terrible returns to Shiang.

Far to the west, four Shiang masters approach the city walls of Darien. The sword saint and his companions have crossed a continent to bring an old man home for punishment. They will not be denied, even if the whole city stands in their way.

TWO ANCIENT CITIES. ONE FINAL WAR.

Having read Darien, Iggulden’s first foray into fantasy, last year, I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on its sequel, Shiang.

Ordinarily, I would try to incorporate a spoiler-free summary of the book here but I’m find it really difficult for this book.

Shiang is set two years after the happenings in Darien. However, while this is the second book in the Empire of Salt series, it’s not until about quarter of the way through that we see some of the characters from Darien. In fact, there are some characters that we do not see at all in this second book. To be honest, this kind of threw me off a bit as it wasn’t what I was expecting. However I did enjoy getting to know the city and culture of Shiang.

We do return to the city of Darien in this book, but in all honesty this could almost be a stand-alone novel rather than a ‘sequel’.

Strangely, I wasn’t a fan of Iggulden’s characterisations in this book. Where in the past I’ve enjoyed this element of his writing, for some reason I didn’t feel connected to the characters – even those recurring from Darien.

I think, for me, this book was rather predictable in parts. I enjoyed the action, the world itself and some of the intricacies, but I found that once we got going with the plot, the overall story was quite easy to predict.

I did enjoy Shiang, and I do like this world in which Empire of Salt is set, but this is far from my favourite of Iggulden’s work. Perhaps I went into it with my expectations set too high because of his other work that I’m familiar with, but I just didn’t connect with Shiang in the way I had hoped.

I’m intrigued as to how book three will go and if it will be a more direct ‘sequel’. I guess we could find ourselves in another city in this ‘Empire of Salt’. Personally, I just hope that in the next book I feel more connection with the characters.

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