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The Tower of Living and Dying by Anna Smith Spark

The Tower of Living and Dying by Anna Smith Spark
Published by Harper Voyager on March 7, 2019
ISBN: 9780008204112
Genres: Fantasy, epic fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Dragons, grimdark
Pages: 529
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased Book
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four stars - The Tower of Living and Dying by Anna Smith Spark

Marith Altrersyr - father-killer, dragonlord, leader of the blood-soaked Amrath Army - is keeping his promises. He is determined to become King of all Irlast and take back the seat of his ancestors.
Only Thalia, once high priestess of the Lord of Living and Dying, the holiest woman in the Empire, might stop Marith and his army's deadly march. But she is torn between two destinies - and if she was to return home, what would she fi nd there? A city on the brink of ruin: diseased, despairing, dying?
Crawling through a tunnel deep under the ruins of her city, Landra Relast vows vengeance. Her family has been burned, her home destroyed, and now Marith - once her betrothed - must die.
But as Landra cuts through the wasteland left in the wake of Marith's army, she finds that she is not the only one who wishes him ill...

The Tower of Living and Dying is absolutely EVERYTHING you could want in a fantasy novel. Epic scope and an imagination that never quits for anything.

When I read The Court of Broken Knives a couple of weeks ago, I was blown away by the sheer force of Smith Spark’s writing. The characterisation, the passion, and the endless possibilities of the worldbuilding. It’s been a breath of fresh air from the usual fantasy novels I’ve been known to read. I love Grimdark in all its devious nuances and deplorable characters but this feels different somehow, addictive and binge worthy.

The Tower of Living and Dying continues straight on from The Court of Broken Knives. It felt like seeing an old friend again. The pages opened up like a door into a far away world. I took the journey willingly even although I knew I was in for a fair bit of danger I knew the story would be worth the bloodshed I’d have to endure. It’s a known fact that the second book in a series usually ends up feeling like filler, this really isn’t the case, its fresh, its new and nothing felt forced.

In The Court of Broken Knives we were introduced to a whole cast of characters, some I liked and some I despised. Spark delves further – more motivations, action, and consequence, what makes them tick, what is their Achilles heel? I enjoyed getting to know Thalia more (a personal favourite), I loved how she has now come full circle and has become a bad ass in her own right. She knows her worth and doesn’t bow down to anything, she has developed from being a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly – the Queen of the White Isles with Marith at her side is a force to be reckoned with.

Marith is now King of the White Isles, there’s been a deep personal cost to him ascending his birth right. His Brother and mother are now dead and at his own hands. I don’t care how desensitised you are to war and bloodshed, that’s a cut that is going to scar deep. His reputation precedes him, he’s a drug (Hatha) addict and a bit of a drunk, he’s known for his murderous rampages but is determined to bring back the infamy of his house and he will do it by any means necessary. His public and private life are very different and it made me ponder where exactly he is more comfortable, is it on the battlefield or behind closed doors with Thalia by his side? The thing that I love about epic fantasy is the worldbuilding. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing this world for what it is. Sorlost under the current empire is on its last legs. Things cannot continue as they are. We see more of the land around the White Isles and I was totally there for it. I can’t wait to get stuck into the third and final chapter in this tale of grimdark.


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Anna Smith Spark lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history and a PhD in English Literature. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website Previous jobs include petty bureaucrat, English teacher and fetish model.

Anna’s favourite authors and key influences are R. Scott Bakker, Steve Erikson, M. John Harrison, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Stewart and Mary Renault. She spent several years as an obsessive D&D player. She can often be spotted at sff conventions wearing very unusual shoes.

Anna Smith Spark

four stars - The Tower of Living and Dying by Anna Smith Spark

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