Darien: Empire Of Salt by C.F. Iggulden (Penguin) ISBN: 978-0718186463
An experienced author of historical fiction series, this is Iggulden’s first foray into fantasy…and it’s a pleasant journey.
The empire of salt consists of twelve noble families who rule with an iron fist from the city of Darien. It’s not clear whether Darien is dystopian, however its people are somewhat poverty-stricken and oppressed. In terms of fantasy, there isn’t an excessive need to suspend disbelief. Don’t expect the richness of dragons or white-walkers but there is a man who can see into the very near future, a boy who is really a machine brought to life by magic, and a woman who can draw magic out of objects by being in their immediate vicinity.
The story follows a plot to kill the King and over-throw Darien in which all the characters play a role, intentionally or unwittingly.
Iggulden’s palpable prose certainly brings the story and its characters to life but I was disappointed at the vagueness of their intentions and motivations. The story itself isn’t as compelling as I expected but it does leave the reader wanting to know what comes next, as all good first books in a series should.