Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Court of Broken Knives Hardcover – 2017
See the Best Books of 2017 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
"Gritty and glorious! A great read."
―Miles Cameron, author of The Traitor Son Cycle
"Fierce, gripping fantasy, exquisitely written; bitter, funny, and heart-rending by turns."―Adrian Tchaikovsky, Arthur C. Clarke Award winner for Children of Time
"Grim, gritty, and fast paced; with great battles scenes! Anna Smith-Spark is one to watch."―Andy Remic, author of the Blood Dragon Empire series
"Anna Smith-Spark writes in a unique voice with such pace and veracity your imagination has to struggle to keep up with your eyes."―Adrian Collins, Grimdark Magazine
"Captivating."―Marc Turner, author of the Chronicles of the Exile series
"Holy crap, this is good!"―Grim Tidings
"All hail the queen of grimdark fantasy!"
―Michael R. Fletcher, author of Beyond Redemption
"This outstanding, unputdownable debut holds and horrifies like a blood-spattered tapestry. There's rough humour, high drama and a love of story-telling that shines through every page. Plus it's got dragons with bad breath. Brilliant."―The Daily Mail (UK)
"Should appeal to grim dark fans looking for the extreme edge."―Kirkus --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
If my metaphor has gone over your head due to the fact you're not a A Song of Ice and Fire or Game of Thrones fan, allow me to rephrase: there's no heroes in this book. There's only protagonists. Every single one of them has innocent blood on their hands, including children, and it's rarely questionable the world would be better without them. Except, of course, that everyone else in the world is just as awful. For some people, that will send them screaming in the other direction but for others, like me, I found it quite fascinating to read.
The premise is Orhan Emmereth, nobleman of Sorlost, has decided to mount a coup against the Emperor in order to reform its crumbling hollow shell. This requires sending an army of mercenaries he has no intention of allowing to live on a one-way suicide mission into the palace. Meanwhile, said mercenary group discovers they have a bonafide demigod among them with all the horrific mental problems of an Achilles on smack. Marith is a bloodthirsty psychopath but he's beautiful and capable of great deeds so he more or less gets away with whatever he does, no matter how much damage he does (or because of it).
Marith, of course, complicates the suicide part of the suicide mission even though he's every bit as much a danger to his companions as his enemies. Rounding out the group is the high priestess, Thalia, is a woman who regularly sacrifices children on altars, who decides maybe there's more to life than being the instrument of a revolting cultural practice. She wants a handsome prince to whisk her away and isn't too particular about the fact the only one available is quite literally an insane murderer.
The characters are all extremely well-developed with more than just the collection of their flaws. They're all broken people but you understand how the society as well as events have made them this way. Some of them are more sympathetic than others but sympathy is not what Anna Smith Spark asks for. Instead, she merely takes us on a wonderful ride to see who will still be standing when the dust settles.
Ultimately, the story is more about the journey than the ending. It doesn't matter whether Orhan successfully fixes the Empire because the price for even trying has been his soul. Marith is a person with immense potential who squanders it in decadence and violence. If he actually does achieve anything, why should we cheer him on? Even Thalia is someone who has no real "right" to get a new life since she's done nothing for anyone but her self her entire life. They're all fascinating characters and have a Tarantino-esque quality of being completely unpredictable despite their ruthlessness.
If you think I'm overselling the antihero qualities of them, trust me, I'm not but that's the appeal of the book. Dark, edgy, and violent storytelling from beginning to end. Definitely worthy of the title "grimdark."
The quote comes from the first chapter. It clarifies things a bit and make you understand it won’t be cheerful, uplifting and fast read. The Court of Broken Knives is not for the faint of heart. The story is dark and violent.
The premise isn’t new. We’ve seen it done many times in books and in movies. A nobleman of Sorlost – Orhan Emmereth can’t stand the way the society stagnates. In order to reform it he’s ready to employ extreme measures. He mounts a coup against Emperor. A group of mercenaries is sent to the city of Sorlost to kill all important figures. They don’t know their targets until the massacre begins.
The members of The Free Company of the Swords (mercenaries) are cold-blooded killers who enjoy killing. There’s a strange, beautiful boy among them – Marith. As the story develops we discover that Marith is actually a troubled psychopath who finds killing cathartic. Also he’s kind of demi-god. And drug addict. And many other things.
The coup doesn’t go as planned. Orhan has to manage situation in Sorlost in order to remain alive. Marith and his merry band of killers flee the city together with Thalia – a priestess who regularly sacrifices children on altars so that other children may be born.
While the story isn’t completely new it’s told in unique way. I’ll admit that it took me some time to get into the book. I read my copy on kindle and getting through first chapters felt awkward. The prose, narration switching from third person to first person, choice of words felt strange and alien to me. I wasn’t sure where all of these was going. Once the stage was set (around 24% of Kindle version) I was really hooked both in the story and long internalizations.
What makes this story unique is
1. Prose – rhythmic, almost musical. Hypnotic. It won’t appeal to everyone as sometimes the prose dominates over the story. Sentences and descriptions are sharp, they contain a lot of repetitions, onomatopeias. At times it’s very exalted. Here’s a sample: “The abyss opening beneath him. Death. And life, as terrible. Futile. Darkness. Light. All fear. Fear of living. Fear of dying.
Shadows. Death.” If you like your prose and stories simple, this one may not appeal to you at all.
2. Characters – all characters are skillfully developed. They’re all broken. Marith is one of darkest, most complex and destructive characters ever created. At times poetic, finding notion of happiness in simplest things, at times cold blooded killer finding almost religious exaltation in killing, slashing and devastating his enemies. Tobias, Rate, Alxine all have distinguishable traits even though only Tobias is one of POVs. Orhan and his lover (yes, there’s a homosexual couple) Darath bring some sense of humor to the story but their paths are as dark as others. They’re just more sarcastic than others and chapters focused on the aren’t – most of the time – as gritty as the rest of the book.
3. Emotions / relations – the way Anna Smith – Spark uses words to make a reader feel emotions of lust, anger, fear is unique. Her prose is skillful but may be considered heavy by some. Anyway the relations between characters are quite fascinating given you feel some attraction to what’s darker in human nature. Relation between Thalia and Marith is all birds and roses until it isn’t. Until Thalia sees Marith for who he really is. Even then though she feels attracted to him. Why? Because he’s so beautiful. It may be annoying to some. It may be fascinating to others. I’m in the second group.
I liked the book. It wasn’t easy to get into it. Usually I know if the book is for me after few chapters or, say, 10 % of Kindle version. I had to put some effort to get into the book and fully understand what is happening. I’m glad I read this book and I’ll definitely preorder it’s sequel due to be published in 2018. If, however, you don’t like prose to dominate over the story at times you may feel a bit lost while reading the book.
I am so glad I plunged into this kingdom of dust a n d blood, passion and intrigue. Anna Spark Smith's voice is not only distinctive but dazzling fresh. Her words shimmer with feeling. She was able to break my heart or transport me to dizzying heights with just a few well-placed words.
The emergent "hero" is a dragon-killing, drug-addicted mystery man. His eventual companion is a runaway high priestess capable of putting young children to the sacrificial knife. Together they must evade capture by a corrupt official who has sway over an impotent figurehead of a ruler.
I am reluctant to give any more detail.....Just know that this book will grip your soul if you let it. It is, quite frankly, one of the most intoxicating fantasies I've ever encountered. The next volume in this series cannot come soon enough.