Darien by C. F. Iggulden reviewed

Darien Book Cover Darien
Empire of Salt
C. F. Iggulden
Michael Joseph
July 13, 2017

From the daring and critically acclaimed master of historical fiction Conn Iggulden, DARIEN is the first book in the Empire of Salt, an epic new fantasy series of spellbinding imagination . . . TWELVE FAMILIES. ONE THRONE. The city of Darien stands at the weary end of a golden age. Twelve families keep order with soldiers and artefacts, spies and memories, clinging to a peace that shifts and crumbles. The people of the city endure what they cannot change. Here, amongst old feuds, a plot is hatched to kill a king. It will summon strangers to the city - Elias Post, a hunter, Tellius, an old swordsman banished from his home, Arthur, a boy who cannot speak, Daw Threefold, a chancer and gambler, Vic Deeds, who feels no guilt - and Nancy, a girl whose talent might be the undoing of them all. As the sun sets, their arrival inside the walls will spark a series of explosive events. Before the sun returns, six destinies will have been made - and lost - in Darien. Welcome to the Empire of Salt, where sword and sorcery are at their finest . . . 'A master storyteller' Sunday Express 'Iggulden is in a class of his own' Daily Mirror 'One of our finest historical novelists' Daily Express

I was aware of C F Iggulden’s reputation as a writer of historical fiction and the idea of reading Darien, the first part of a fantasy series, was very appealing. The story effectively has three threads running through it. Firstly there is Elias, a remarkable hunter who is spotted by Deeds a gunman. Next there is Tellius, a Bill Sykes character, and a youngster who joins his group who Tellius names Arthur. The final strand is about Daw who uses magical devices to line his pockets in the main and Nancy who insists that magic doesn’t exist.

The other part of the overall scene is the city of Darien where much of the book is set. I guess Darien is a fairly stereotypical city state with rulers who are seen as abusing power and authority. Those who are in authority are doing all they can to retain that authority.

I certainly enjoyed reading this book and found it easy to get into. Mostly the characters worked well enough for me. In particular Elias and Tellius were excellent in my opinion. Elias’s skill was interesting and well used. Similarly Tellius’s use of the Mazer steps struck me as very good. I did find Daw and particularly Nancy rather less convincing. Parts of Nancy’s story line did not really work for me.

In general the action and pace were fine particularly as the book went on; I was happily caught up in the story. This was not a book I would have put down and I enjoyed reading it. My reservation is that the plot lines seem quite well telegraphed. It was apparent to me quite early on the general direction of the story. As I got further into the book I did work out a number of the general storylines. 3.5/5 overall I guess and I’m sure others will enjoy it even more than I did.