And so commences my final review of The Song of the Shattered Sands. Here we are again with another gigantic book by Bradley P. Beaulieu – filled with wonderful prose and thrilling worldbuilding set in an original Arabian-inspired world. This is my final plea for you to go check it out. But, now there is an added incentive: the series is finished and the ending was great. There is now a full six-book epic fantasy in its full glory awaiting you. What is stopping you from picking up this great set of books? Go get them. There are few series out there that will give you as much bang for your buck as The Song of the Shattered Sands.
There isn’t actually a lot I can say about book six, A Desert Torn Asunder, that isn’t spoilers. All the plot lines built up in the last five books come together, they all have an excellent payoff, and the ending is sufficiently epic for a series of this magnitude. It’s mostly all good news. The only real issue I have with book six is that Beaulieu did such a good job putting all the balls in motion that there doesn’t feel like there is a lot of agency among the characters in the last book. All the plans have been made, all the choices have been chosen, and now you will see where the pieces land in this massive battle for control of the desert world. But, the ending is still surprising, delightful, and has some great messaging.
As for my review of the series as a whole: A, great work. Bradley P. Beaulieu clearly loves his world and series. He has enormous passion in every single page, and there are a lot of pages. He also has a mind for sharp detail and is constantly reinventing the wheel. Each of the six books in the series feels distinctly different, with a unique narrative style, yet they all have so many clear-through lines that bind them together. The characters have wonderful growth, there is a wide variety of personalities among the POVs, and almost every character is easy to empathize with. Its only real shortcoming is that the narrative can occasionally be slow and dense. Certain plotlines are more exciting than others and a few bits of the story can drag. All of this is worth it though in pursuit of the rest of the story.
A major theme of the book is the protagonist’s (Ceda) relationship with her mother. It was a really nice relationship to explore and I wish there were more like it in the fantasy genre. As I mentioned in my Father’s Day piece recently, it’s important that we get more fantasy stories with a focus on parent-child relationships as it’s a space that hasn’t fully been explored in the fantasy medium (though there is always good old fiction). The worldbuilding is phenomenal, ending the series with an extremely well fleshed-out set of countries, multiple deep original magic systems, and nuanced culture that varies by region and class. This is a world that is easy to slip into and hard to leave.
In sum, A Desert Torn Asunder rounds off an excellent series and one of the hidden fantasy gems of this generation of writers. The Song of the Shattered Sands continuously delivers a high-quality story from start to finish and never drops the ball. You should finally check it out now that it’s finished if you haven’t done so already.
A Desert Torn Asunder – 8.0/10
The Song of the Shattered Sands – 8.5/10