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The House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark

The House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on July 25 2019
ISBN: 9780008204150
Genres: Dark Fantasy, epic fantasy, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Dragons
Pages: 541
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased Book
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four stars - The House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark

A powerhouse grimdark fantasy of bloodshed, ambition, and fate, The House of Sacrifice is the thunderous conclusion to Anna Smith Spark's Empires of Dust trilogy, which began with The Court of Broken Knives.
Hail Him. Behold Him.
Man-killer, life-stealer, death-bringer, life's thief.
All are bound to Him,
His word is law.
The night coming, the sudden light that makes the eyes blind,
Golden one, shining, glorious.
Life's judgement, life's pleasure, hope's grave.
Marith Altrersyr has won. He cut a path of blood and vengeance and needless violence around the world and now he rules. It is time for Marith to put down his sword, to send home his armies, to grow a beard and become fat. It is time to look to his own house, and to produce an heir. The King of Death must now learn to live.
But some things cannot be learnt.
The spoils of war turn to ash in the mouths of the Amrath Army and soon they are on the move again. But Marith, lord of lies, dragon-killer, father-killer, has begun to falter and his mind decays. How long can a warlord rotting from within continue to win?
As the Army marches on to Sorlost, Thalia's thoughts turn to home and to the future: a life grows inside her and it is a precious thing - but it grows weak.
Why must the sins of the father curse the child?
A glorious, ambitious and bloodily brilliant conclusion that threads together a masterful tapestry of language and story, holding up a piercing reflection on epic fantasy - and those who love it.

The House of Sacrifice was absolutely brilliant – unsettling, brutal and tragic. A masterpiece of intrigue and Anna Smith Spark has crazy talent.

The House of Sacrifice concludes the Empires of Dust trilogy and can I say what a wild ride it was. I enjoyed every minute of it and can’t believe it took me this long to pick it up. I deserve a slap across the wrists for that misdemeanour. The prose is outstanding…seriously beautiful in its brutal sense of realism. At no point did I struggle to get lost in the story, I was there in that moment, living the consequences of those characters. Spark has a way with words and I can’t wait to see what she pulls out of her bag next. I don’t doubt that its going to be just as powerful and just as memorable as The Empires of Dust Trilogy. This author has a lifelong fan.

Do you want a trilogy that leaves you breathless in its sublime conclusion? Then this is the story for you. Its almost impossible to please everyone but Spark does a stellar job for making the ending satisfying.

One thing I think that Spark has done especially well is displaying Marith’s decent into chaos in terms of his mental health. It’s a well contested topic and is extremely difficult to get right. Author’s have been known to get it wrong, unintentionally, and using stereotypes further conflicts the readers ability to appreciate where the author is coming from. Spark hasn’t fallen into that trap and investigates just what Marith’s actions would do to a person. He’s accomplished everything he set out to do and more. There is no one to stand up to him, no one to inflict consequence upon his terrifying reign. He’s killed people that he loved, people that have the label, family. Seeing the light go out on those you have loved and cared for must eat away at you. Their lives have ended at your hands, I think those images would haunt both my waking and sleeping moments. Thalia is still at his side, gone is the woman who served as the High Priestess, that woman has been buried, in its place is now Thalia, Queen of the White Isles and Marith’s wife. Those two make up some of the most screwed up, dysfunctional couples I’ve ever read about. It was wrong but somehow it seemed so right.

The first half of the story was of a quieter, slower pace. It wasn’t boring not for a minute, but it had a sense of caution, it gave a real idea of what happens in between sieges and battles. The chat between soldiers, the worry, the pain and I think the story certainly benefited from those powerful scenes. Although not a lot happened, reading them went quickly and before you knew it, you were in the midst of another siege and the story careened onwards with the force of a battering ram. This is a story that I won’t quickly forget, it was memorable in its morally grey characters and world building that was second to none.


image 3 - The House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark

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 www.greatworks.org.uk. 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 House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark

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