Conn Iggulden, writing under the name C.F Iggulden has published his first fantasy novel ‘Darien: Empire of Salt’. I don’t often read fantasy but I love Conn Iggulden’s historical fiction novels so decided to give this a go. I’m glad that I did.
Darien is a walled city of around half a million people which is ruled by twelve families. The status of each of the twelve families in the partnership is largely dependent on the magic held by the family. The King is a puppet king mostly controlled by his family.
The story follows a number of different characters. Elias Post is a hunter who has just lost his son to a plague. He will do anything to save his wife and two daughters from the same fate. He has special talents which Vic Deeds is happy to exploit for the promise of saving the family. Deeds takes Elias on a journey that greatly troubles his conscience, but will this give Elias what he wants?
Daw Threefold is a small time thief who has worked for years to increase his magic. When he meets Wendy, her special talents change everything for him. He now has one chance left to get what he wants. But Wendy has her own plans and she has found a way to achieve them.
Tellius is an old fighter who had to leave his home country. He now lives in Darien with a gang of boys who he has trained to steal for him. But he has also trained them in the art of fighting that he learnt as a young man. Arthur has just joined his crew, but he is like no other boy that Tellius has ever met. But pretty soon Tellius is not the only one who wants Arthur by his side.
The main characters converge on Darian on a festival night when there is a plot to assassinate the King, attack the city and take over its rule. In a night of murder, fire, fighting and magic who will survive and take control of Darien?
This story was excellent and left me wanting more. I’m looking forward to the series continuing. The characters were excellent and drove the story.
It read very much like a historical novel (except for the magic and magical creatures). I hope that Iggulden enjoyed not being constrained by facts.
As with all of Iggulden’s novels, this one was a pleasure to read.