Guyyysssssss I was so excited when this book arrived in the mail for me. I mean, I didn’t think I had time for literally any other books and then when it arrived on my doorstep I absolutely immediately stopped everything I was doing and started it.
This review is based on a review copy. Thanks to the author for that review copy!
Marith’s power is growing. His empire stretches across half the world, and allies are flocking to his banner to share the spoils of war. With Thalia ruling at his side they are unstoppable.
But Marith is become increasingly mentally unstable and their victories cannot continue forever.
You see now, you see, even my touch is corruption, I am ruin, I am a god and after me is only death.
Book fam, let me tell you about Marith Altresyr, King of all of Everything Ever if you’re not familiar.
My dude is crazy AF, first of all. He wants to die, but is moreso terrified of it, and there is… actually a bit of question as to whether he actually can. As he and his army cross the world conquering everything in between, Marith becomes more and more mentally unstable as things don’t always go his way, and tends to drown his woes in drink and drugs.
Thalia, Queen of all of the things, and former Priestess of slightly less of the things, watches him suffer and drink his way to obliviousness as things don’t always go his way, or her way, or… anyone’s way, come to think on it.
Tobias, camp follower and former mercenary, follows the Army of Amrath as it conquers the world, and watches as men and women follow Marith into literally any situation he decides to put them in. Even situations in which they don’t have much of a chance of winning. But he is Marith, and Marith does not lose.
Landra Relast, former noblewoman, follows Marith with her eyes on revenge for what he did to her family.
Finally, Orhan Emmereth, former Nithque to the Emperor and former plotter of things sits in his house in the great city of Sorlost, being hated by the general public, lamenting how he totally and completely messed things up with his boyfriend, hanging out with his wife and son, and… definitely not plotting again. No sir, never with the plotting. I love Orhan so much. He’s such a great character.
Anna Smith Spark has one of the most unique writing styles I’ve ever read, and it is an absolute pleasure to read. It’s not going to be for everyone, but it is certainly for me, and I can’t even really put my finger on why. I often have a hard time loving very heavy or wordy prose, as it just isn’t always my jam, but I could (and have, and will continue to) read her work for hours and hours at a time, and just fall right into her story. Sometimes a sentence is simply one word long, because that is all it needs to be. Each chapter is crafted in a way that tells exactly as much as it needs to tell, even if all it needs to tell is ‘Flames. Flames. Flames.’
As you can imagine, as she is not known as the Queen of Grimdark for no reason, the Empires of Dust can be pretty goddamn dark. Like… really dark sometimes, especially in the last third. It gets gory at times, and is just generally pretty grim… and dark… yeah okay you see where I’m going with this. That said, it was never so dark that I needed a break from it. I have a tendency to need to take a breather from books that are very violent or bleak, but I didn’t have to here (though I will admit that in the last 100 pages or so, there was very nearly a need. There was… a lot going on there. Wow). There was usually a perfectly timed POV change or bit of lightness in places where it was getting really heavy. But just a warning to anyone in need of one, this one features some pretty harrowing stuff, like children (and everyone else) getting murdered and a fair bit of implied rape, on top of entire cities being sacked and burned.
So, all told, I thought that it was pretty fantastic, really. Dark, and really brutal at times, but written in a way that I just could not stop reading it. It’s paced well, it’s plotted well, I loved to love some characters, and loved to hate others. I thought the ending wrapped it up nicely. This was a fantastic conclusion to the series, and I hope to read so much more of Anna Smith Spark’s work in the future. 5/5 stars!~