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Book Review

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The Sword Saint (Hardback)


Author: C.F. Iggulden
Publisher: Penguin
363 pages
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 978 0 718 18680 7
Publication Date: 08 August 2019

Politics and business can both be deadly games, so when the young prince Louis tries to parley a trade deal with the wealthy city of Darien, Tellius, its first speaker, perceives a trap. No matter, the council is evenly split, that is until Lord Canis is assassinated…

The Sword Saint (2019. 363 pages) is the conclusion to the Empire of Salt fantasy series, written by C. F. Iggulden.

Before we get into the latest novel it is interesting to look at how the author approached the whole project. Unlike many stories the Empire of Salt always had shifting perspectives, so while you can say that the main characters in the first book, Deeds, Arthur, Tellius took centre stage, apart from Tellius they barely appeared in the second book as the focus shifted to Hondo and crew.

With this tale all the principle characters have been united for one last defence of Darien. This does mean that as the first two novels almost work as standalones before we approach the dyadic that is Sword Saint. If the whole tale could be said to have a central threat it is Tellius.

It is amazing that in a book in which so little happens it could at the same time be a compelling read.

In short, Louis returns home with his trade deal only to discover that the king sent him there, hoping that he would fail spectacularly, which would give him a reason to go to war against Darien. When this fails, King Jean Brieland just finds another excuse.

Much of the latter half of the book involves the battle for the city and, as I said, it brings back all the central characters, including the powerful magic wielder Nancy. Bit of a psychopath that girl.

What makes this book, and indeed the whole series, is the compelling style in which it is written. His characters have depth, I was amused and irritate by Deed's narcissistic tendencies, in awe of the selflessness of Tellius, as well as thrilled at the martial deeds of the master swordsmen. This is a book which both amused me and made me sad, not all the characters have a happy ending. While there are some who will look forward to the colossal battle, and this does not disappoint, it is the relationships between the characters which you will take away with you.


Charles Packer

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