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“Oh Sorlost. Oh my city. Beauty and wonder and old sorrow. The dream memory of golden childhood, the desire for a lost beloved never truly known.”

The House of Sacrifice

Anna Smith Spark’s Empires of Dust trilogy comes to its inevitable Shakespearean conclusion with The House of Sacrifice, a finale that reaffirms Marith as one of the greatest protagonists in grimdark fantasy. Following events in the first two books of the trilogy, The Court of Broken Knives and The Tower of Living and Dying, Marith proves himself to be a ruinous king with a god complex, overrunning the continent with a seemingly undefeatable army:

“We march onwards, an army like a storm, like the clouds rushing over the sun. The world trembles. The men in their bronze armour sing the paean, hold their heads high, smile as they march. The world bows before us.”

Marith sets his sights on the unconquerable city of Sorlost, the decaying capital of what had once been the greatest empire in the world, a conquest that had eluded even Marith’s notorious ancestor. At the same time, the greatest threat to Marith may come from within, as his unprecedented power is accompanied by a steady descent into madness.

The House of Sacrifice pivots on the tumultuous relationship between Marith and his wife, Thalia, the former high priestess and holiest woman from Sorlost. Their relationship alternates between affection and a potentially murderous hatred, with intermittent flames of passion eclipsed by their more steadfast lust for power and glory.

Throughout The House of Sacrifice, Marith and Thalia leave a trail of death and destruction in their wake. As always, Anna Smith Spark is unflinching in her descriptions of gore and suffering. While Marith strives to maintain sanity, Thalia seeks to justify her choices that have led to so much slaughter:

“I will not be blamed for living my life.”

Altogether, the Empires of Dust trilogy is a towering literary achievement and one of the finest works of grimdark fantasy. Anna Smith Spark is acclaimed as the Queen of Grimdark for a very good reason: her inimitable prose elevates the genre to soaring new artistic heights. The House of Sacrifice is an uncompromising grimdark experience and literature of the highest caliber.

5/5

The House of Sacrifice

The House of Sacrifice

The House of Sacrifice

The House of Sacrifice

The House of Sacrifice

The House of Sacrifice

The House of Sacrifice

The House of Sacrifice

John Mauro

John Mauro lives in a world of glass amongst the hills of central Pennsylvania. When not indulging in his passion for literature or enjoying time with family, John is training the next generation of materials scientists at Penn State University, where he teaches glass science and materials kinetics. John also loves cooking international cuisine and kayaking the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

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