Name: The Sword Saint (Empire of Salt #3)
Author: C. F. Iggulden
Number of Pages: 384 (Hardback)
Published: August 8th 2019 by Michael Joseph
Cities have been broken. Empires have fallen. And darkness is coming.
Success has drawn a cold gaze. A false king seeks dominion. His soldiers will bring desolation and despair to Darien. With treachery on all sides, the ancient capital looks set to fall.
Yet within the walls of that great city, a small team gathers. Tellius knows each one: a hunter, a gambler, a dead man, a wielder of threads – and the sword saint of Shiang. When Darien herself is threatened, Tellius will ask them to stand.
A city is worth more than the lives of those within. Darien’s streets and courts and homes and taverns are a bonfire on the hill, a beacon of life and light in the world.
That is why they will die to save her.
The Sword Saint takes us back for the final time to the Empire of Salt and the city of Darien, a place that has experienced much turmoil over the preceding books yet still stands, protected by the young King Arthur and the Twelve Families with their magical stones and powerful artefacts.
Into the city comes a young prince, the son of the King of Féal. Tellius suspects from the outset there is something not quite right about the newcomer, and questions whether he is who he claims to be, and who this so-called king is.
When one of the Darien family heads is murdered, it swings the council decision to form an alliance with this prince, yet there is much plotting and scheming and of course, Tellius was right in his suspicions and when the prince himself comes under attack it isn’t long before there is talk of war and Darien is threatened once again.
I picked up The Sword Saint straight after finishing Shiang so there was a certain similarity in plot that I wonder if I’d have noticed having had the actual gap between the two novels being published. I was hoping to find out more about the Twelve Families and their magical stones and artefacts. I liked the supporting characters of Regis and de Guise last time around, and the way they played off each other whilst battling together, and Lady Sallet was a good character too so I’d have loved more of them to round off this trilogy. These are minor things really and didn’t take anything away from enjoying this final chapter in the Empire of Salt.
It was nice to visit this world again and for familiar characters from previous novels to feature once more. Old faces return for the final showdown, called back to defend Darien with various magical abilities, or ‘knacks’ as they are known. Elias Post, who can see a short way into the future, Nancy, the woman who draws in power, Vic Deeds the gunfighter and the Shiang swordsmen Hondo and Bosin form a team to try and act as first defence for Darien, taking on this new enemy out on the road before they have chance to reach the city.
Watching these very different people drawn together, learning how to work to defend the city they call their own was good and provided some individuals characters to follow during the battle.
The fight scenes are exciting and fast-paced, with the inclusion of all kinds of magic lighting up the darkness, quite literally at one point. There’s a darker magic at play on the side of this new king of Féal, which makes for a formidable enemy.
The Sword Saint combines magic, battles and schemes and throws characters we’ve come to know over the trilogy right into the middle of it all to bring the tales of the Empire of Salt to an eventful conclusion.