Name: Darien: Empire of Salt
Author: C. F. Iggulden
Number of Pages: 352 (Hardback)
Published: July 13th 2017 by Michael Joseph
TWELVE FAMILIES. ONE THRONE. WELCOME TO THE EMPIRE OF SALT.
The city of Darien stands at the weary end of a golden age. Twelve families keep order with soldiers and artefacts, spies and memories, clinging to a peace that shifts and crumbles. The people of the city endure what they cannot change.
Here, amongst old feuds, a plot is hatched to kill a king. It will summon strangers to the city – Elias Post, a hunter, Tellius, an old swordsman banished from his home, Arthur, a boy who cannot speak, Daw Threefold, a chancer and gambler, Vic Deeds, who feels no guilt – and Nancy, a girl whose talent might be the undoing of them all.
Their arrival inside the walls as the sun sets will set off a series of explosive events. Before the sun returns, five destinies will have been made – and lost – in Darien. – from Goodreads
Darien is the first in a new fantasy series and possibly the first C. F. Iggulden book I’ve read.
Darien is a city ruled by a monarch where in truth twelve families hold the power, and keep order. It’s a world of power, and magical artefacts, and military might.
There’s a plot to kill the king and establish a new ruler in Darien, which leads to a fierce battle for the city, which made for exciting reading towards the latter part of the book, and we live it through 5 main characters, who are all pretty intriguing in their own ways. The characters really make the novel.
I liked the magic, and that people have a knack, a power, which can be different for everyone.
Elias Post, the hunter, can reach and see possible outcomes, making him a powerful and almost unstoppable force in battle, cutting through masses of soldiers whilst taking little harm himself. This of course makes him valuable.
Nancy is a young woman who never really believed in magic, because she’d seen little evidence of it in her life – because her knack means she can absorb power from around her. When she comes to realise just how strong this makes her, and the ways in which she can wield that power, she sets out for Darien with an intent of her own.
Then there’s the young boy who doesn’t speak, who becomes known as Arthur. He has an uncanny skill of being able to watch and learn. For example, the complex Mazer steps, an intricate and deadly fighting style takes years to learn, but after watching someone demonstrate the steps Arthur can execute them perfectly in a matter of moments. Tellius, teacher of the Mazer steps, sees this and takes the boy into his group, little realising just how far they will travel together.
Some of these characters cross paths accidentally, some are thrown together by chance, or with reluctance, but all are destined to witness the battle waged within the city of Darien. Some will participate against their will, only hoping to save those they care for, some will willingly lay the city to ruin if they can.
The second half of this book is fast paced and exciting, with mass destruction of the city, murder, blackmail and magic as old artefacts such as the Sallett Greens (huge warriors) and the Blue Border are deployed amongst the battling factions of the city, and I really enjoyed it.
I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series, and even though this one wraps up nicely, I’m already wondering – will we meet up with the same characters next time? And if so, what lies in store for them…
Or will the focus go elsewhere? There’s so much potential here and I can’t wait to see what happens next in the Empire of Salt.