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With Blood Upon the Sand: The Song of the Shattered Sands - Book Two

Publisher: DAW Books, Inc.

In With Blood Upon the Sand, Bradley P. Beaulieu continues the story of Çeda, as she lives, trains, and sleeps alongside the daughters of the very kings she seeks to destroy, as a member of the Blade Maidens; the elite ranks who protect and do the bidding of the kings. Everything in her life has led her to this point, putting her within striking distance of the kings, yet she must be careful not to betray herself. She'll have to carefully learn what she can from them and work to appear to be serving the kings, while minimizing the damage she deals to the kings' enemies. If Twelve Kings in Sharakhai is about Çeda, the White Wolf, from street wren to Pit Champion, then With Blood Upon the Sand is the story of Çeda, daughter of a king, Blade Maiden, and spy in this story of intrigue.

Çeda's desire to take out the kings has been instilled in her since birth, as her mother fought for the same cause, but we come to find that Çeda's grievances go beyond her upbringing and into her very heritage, as she learns interesting things about the betrayed thirteenth tribe. Due, at least in part, to her being a descendant of the thirteenth tribe, she finds that she has a more powerful connection to the asirim than the other Blade Maidens. She will use this to her advantage, but she must be careful not to reveal the full depth of her connection to the asirim. Further, the strong connection goes both ways and she must fight to avoid losing control of herself and acting out the long-desired vengeance of the asirim bound to her.

When Yndris, daughter of King Cahil, joins Çeda's hand (team), they find themselves at odds with each other (and at each others' throats). Yndris watches Çeda carefully, making it difficult for her to get alone to further her plans against the kings. While those around them pick up on their dislike for each other and try to make them learn to work together, it seems they're not likely to become friends.

There's also quite a bit of story development on Meryam and Ramahd. They had succeeded in capturing Hamzakiir in the first book and, here, they work to break him and learn his secrets and bend him to their will. That doesn't work out quite as they had expected and Hamzakiir becomes an unexpected rogue pawn on the board.

There are a few sexual encounters in this installment, as there were in the first book, but they seem to work to develop the story and provide unexpected insight into characters and change the direction or relationships in interesting ways. I won't name names or give spoilers, but I will say that I can readily think of three couplings that I did not see coming.

Things simmer with intrigue in the early parts of the book, but they crescendo in a roiling boil at the end. I found myself actually giddy at reading certain parts of the book and, near the very end, I found that I was fearing a weak ending, since I was rapidly running out of pages, but it's not that the book ends weakly, but that it doesn't conclude the entire story. So, in truth, I'm really just anxious to read the third installment, A Veil of Spears, which is currently slated for release in March of 2018.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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