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“King Marith Altrersyr. Amrath returned to us. King Ruin. King Shadows. King of Dust. King of Death. Dragonlord. Dragon killer. Dragon kin. Demon born. Parricide. Murderer. Hatha addict. The most beautiful man in the world.”

The Tower of Living and Dying

Anna Smith Spark invented the subgenre of literary grimdark fantasy with the publication of her debut novel, The Court of Broken Knives, and she takes her writing to the next level with its sequel, The Tower of Living and Dying, the second volume of the Empires of Dust trilogy.

The Tower of Living and Dying is a masterpiece in gray morality as the charismatic Marith reveals details of his troubled past and pursues victory at all costs. Marith even terrifies himself as he discovers the evil within and awakens to his own tremendous powers.

“Never go up against a drink-and drug-addled death obsessed invulnerable demon with a pet dragon. Old secret sellsword’s wisdom, that.”

While Marith was the undisputed star of The Court of Broken Knives, Thalia steals the spotlight in The Tower of Living and Dying. The high priestess of Sorlost, chosen by God, flees her life of isolation to escape with Marith, wedding Marith while whetting her thirst for freedom.

Thalia is fully aware of the intrinsic dangers posed by Marith and of her own unique position to stop him. But her attraction to Marith proves too powerful to resist and is also intertwined with the lure of power.

Thalia’s internal struggles are set against the backdrop of growing war and changing allegiances in The Tower of Living and Dying. Anna Smith Spark never shies away from showing the brutal realities of war and its impact on personal lives.

Marith’s erstwhile companion, the mercenary leader Tobias, returns in The Tower of Living and Dying, together with a woman from Marith’s past who seeks vengeance for the pain and destruction he has wrought. The scheming nobleman Orhan is also back, offering plenty of personal and political intrigue. All this builds up to the most wicked mic-drop ending since Mark Lawrence’s King of Thorns.

Let’s face it, though, the raison d’être for reading The Tower of Living and Dying is to immerse yourself in Anna Smith Spark’s lyrical prose. No one writes like Anna Smith Spark. Her writing burns with emotional intensity, finding poetry in a world of violence and decay.

Anna Smith Spark elevates emotional wreckage to an art form in The Tower of Living and Dying, making it another must-read for grimdark fans. The Empires of Dust trilogy concludes with Book Three, The House of Sacrifice.

5/5

The Tower of Living and Dying

The Tower of Living and Dying

The Tower of Living and Dying

The Tower of Living and Dying

The Tower of Living and Dying

The Tower of Living and Dying

The Tower of Living and Dying

The Tower of Living and Dying

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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