The Tower of Living and Dying (Empires of Dust #2) by Anna Smith Spark - Book Review

Write on: Sat, 08 Aug 2020 by  in Archive Read 4846

The Tower of Living and Dying is a wonderfully written grimdark novel that takes everything great about The Court of Broken Knives and ramps it up to 100. It is one of the most unique fantasy stories I have read.



“The god thing dived. Blazing golden. Pure pure perfect perfect life and hope. Marith killed it down with one blow.”


Anna Smith Spark is a fantastic writer, there is no denying that. Her prose is inspiring - lyrical and beautifully cold. Being Book 2 of Empires of Dust, it is evident here Anna has become a master of this world. She understands the characters so well, and is able to switch and change her writing style with each individual. 


There are multiple Point of Views here, each with interesting and plot driven storylines. Some we have met before, others are new - all are intriguing and very readable. I do not think Empires of Dust is a series where you will have your ‘favourite’ characters who you are behind every step of the way and want to survive the journey. Anna has crafted each character well and they all feel real or as real as one can in a dragon and disease ridden fantasy land. 


“Sorlost. I did not wonder at the blank broken faces that came to me, laid themselves before my knife. I see it now in Tyrenae, and I begin to understand it. Blind children and madmen go begging in the streets here. The wealthy look at them and turn away and do not care.” 


They are so real that it is very easy to dislike them. They all have their motivations and do horrific things - but it is also very easy to feel empathy for them. 


“A single ray of sunlight broke through the clouds. Shone on Marith’s silver crown.” 


The world is bleak and beautiful, sometimes luxurious, always bloody. The action is visceral and equally bloody, There are betrayals that are heartbreaking, there are animals that are petrifying, politics that surprise you at each turn, and characters that find a way to be some of the most memorable in modern fantasy.


“Death! Death! Death!”



4.5/5 - Anna’s mastery of this series and characters highlighted The Tower of Living and Dying for me as one of my favourite reads of the year. Yes, the prose is equally stunning as Book 1, the environments equally dark and breathtaking, but at the heart of it is an author who has crafted a world that stands out, with a level of writing that is addictive.

Last modified on Thursday, 16 December 2021 15:15

I am a part-time viking, part-time knight and a full-time teacher. You’ll see me in the corner wearing a coat of mail reading a good book.