Book Review

Review: The Sword Saint (Empire of Salt #3) by C. F. Iggulden

I think the fact that I finished reading this book at few days ago, but didn’t sit down and write the review immediately, speaks for itself. And I’m a little sad that this series finished so anticlimatically when I’d really enjoyed Books 1 and 2 – I was just expecting a little more at the end.


Title: The Sword Saint
Series: Empire of Salt (Book 3)
Author: C. F. Iggulden
Pages: 384
Publication Date: 8th August 2019
Publisher: Michael Joseph

The city of Darien has weathered some strange things over the past decade: the magic stones of the Twelve families, individuals with a ‘knack’ – for slipping into the safest future, or for absorbing magic and turning it into fire. The city has a boy king who never ages, has developed guns and expert swordsmen who trained in the imperial city of Shiang to the east.

Since the events of Shiang (Book 2) the Twelve families of Darien have begun to realise that they are no longer quite so alone, and are looking to engage with new trade and opportunities, particularly when a new king is proclaimed in the north, in the newly-named kingdom fo Féal.

But when this new king’s avaricious gaze is turned on Darien, Tellius must see to the defence of the city. And who better to defend it, then the rag-tag group of people that have made it their own, whether they realised that they belonged to the city or not.

The Good:

  • I already loved this series and especially enjoyed reaing about a city that has been so carefully created – it is dark and dirty, as well as exciting, innovative and hopeful. The character of Tellius perfectly embodies a city that he has come to represent.
  • C. F. Iggulden writes good fight scenes – the battle around the walls and the raids on the camp were all excellent, if a little light on gore (his style of fantasy).
  • Hondo and Bosin (from Book 2) are great characters and I’m glad that they had a more prominent role in this book.
  • It had the classic ‘rag-tag bunch of rebels coming together’ trope and it was great to get familiar with the group again – it a very ‘completing the circle’ feel to have characters from Book 1 reappear at the end.

The Not So Good:

  • In many ways, it felt like very little happened, or at least nothing new. The Sword Saint was a rehash of all of the events from Darien and Shiang, which meant that nothing felt fresh – the city had been under siege before, strange invincible people had appeared before – nothing was really different.
  • I had difficultly remembering the significance of each of the characters from previous novels when they reappeared – perhaps I read them too long ago? Or were they not reintroduced very thoroughly? I can’t quite tell which.
  • I was hoping for a little more information about the Twelve Families’ stones, as well as a bit more Tellius/Winn Sallett relationship, but you can’t have everything in a realtively short story.
  • There were some odd debates at the beginning about trade, and being taken advantage of, and trying to retain some national freedom – maybe it’s in the news too much (read: all the time), but of the arguments at the beginning felt very Brexit (and more Leave than Remain …)
  • The ending itself felt rushed (and more than a little bit unlikely that it would resolve so smoothly).

In all, it was the same formula, rewritten for the same characters. It didn’t stop my enjoyment, but it meant that I was often looking for something new, but didn’t necessarily receive it.

Overall, I still enjoyed the story, but it is probably my affection for the series that has allowed me to give it a 4 star rating.

Thanks to Michael Joseph and NetGalley for my ARC – I’m very grateful to have had ARCs for Books 1, 2 and 3 in this series!


2 thoughts on “Review: The Sword Saint (Empire of Salt #3) by C. F. Iggulden

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