Book Reviews

The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark Mini Book Review

hell yeah Review

  • The Court of Broken Knives (Empires of Dust #1).
  • Anna Smith Spark.
  • 470 pages.
  • Fantasy / High Fantasy / Epic Fantasy / Grimdark.
  • My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.


Book Blurb:

They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we piss gold and jewels into the dust.

In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it.

Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.

Book Review:

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Knives everywhere. Coming down like rain.

Now that dear reader is a fucking awesome opening line! When I opened up TCoBK and first read that line, it was ‘be still my beating Grimdark heart!

Travelling to Sorlost a mercenary company has been hired to undertake and complete a mission, if successful, the outcome will have huge ramifications. (As you all know by now, I’m not one for detailed plot explanations, preferring to skim over the plot in a laconic style and then simply offer my thoughts on a book).

TCoBK doesn’t just take place on the journey to and in Sorlost. As the story progresses with reverberations from the fallout of the mercenaries mission and events that transpired in the city, we get to see plenty of the world that Smith Spark has created. It is vast with diverse locations and rich and detailed world building brimming with history and lore.

TCoBK features four main characters straight from the grimdark who’s who of character types, a mercenary captain, a new recruit, a priestess and a politician with their narratives all intertwining. All four of the main characters are in their own way unique and engaging. There is also an abundance of secondary characters that all play their roles well and add to the overall story being told.

A wise man who’s ignored is about as effective as an idiot who’s listened to.

TCoBK contains all the staples of the Grimdark genre, plot twists, action, love, humour, emotion, betrayal, deceit, magic and mages, religion, political intrigue and scheming, shades of grey flawed characters and in Marith, an anti-hero, a self-destructive tormented and tortured soul to rival the Grimdark legend himself Jorg Ancrath (The Broken Empire trilogy by Mark Lawrence) in complexity. Oh, and dragons. Dragons are cool!

I really enjoyed my time spent reading TCoBK, it is a well-paced and complex book that requires you to pay attention to fully immerse yourself in it. Written in an enchanting and lyrical way by Smith Spark some will undoubtedly find her style hard going but for those, either drawn straight in (like myself) or prepared to persevere then TCoBK delivers a satisfying and richly rewarding experience. 

No one wants to die, she thought. Not truly. At the moment of death, all regret that it comes. All see that they were wrong, and fools. All see the glory of living, even in pain, even in sorrow, even in the dark. The men out there fighting will regret, in the moment of dying.

TCoBK is the debut novel from Anna Smith Spark dubbed the Queen of Grimdark and she is fully deserving of that name and reputation.

Beautifully written, poignant, poetic, heartbreaking, profound and occasionally visceral TCoBK is one of the finest Grimdark books you will read and is destined to become a classic of the genre.

Purchase The Court of Broken Knives:

Amazon UK  /  Amazon US  /  Book Depository

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31 thoughts on “The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark Mini Book Review

    1. Poolside read?! Definitely not a UK holiday then!😂 Thanks, I loved it, I hope you do too. It’s definitely a book that I can see why some people had issues with her writing though but to me, it’s one of those that requires effort and gives alot back in return.👌


  1. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read your review, especially at the point where you say that this is a book that requires your attention, that it brooks no distraction: it’s a weird story, at times, but one that draws you in and makes you *want* to know more.
    Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you.😀

      Yeah, that’s very true, everyone should read what they like and enjoy but I admit with some books that I wonder, why didn’t you like it? TCOBK isn’t one of them and I can definitely understand people not getting on with but it does draw you in and is ultimately worth the effort it takes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. IMHO books are like people and they interact with their readers just as people do: there is always some… chemical reaction (for want of a better word) at play here, and sometimes it works, while sometimes it doesn’t. I’m very happy that in this case it did 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a fantastic opening line!👌 Cool, I hope you enjoy it. It’s definitely not an easy book to read and requires time and attention compared to some that you can just pickup and read but it’s definitely worth it.😀

      Ha, that’s a bane for lots of bloggers wishing we could start books sooner!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review as always. I loved that book! Marith needs a good beating, though, but damn great story and stunning prose. I’m a fan.


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