Book Review: Shiang by C.F Iggulden

Shiang by C.F. Iggulden

Author: C.F Iggulden

Title: Shiang (Empire of Salt #2)

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Date: 2018


In Shiang, the young king rules without dissent. Mazer swordsmen stand watch on every corner, looking for the first sign of rebellion. This city is a place of quiet and slow dignity, like a man eating rice with a razor pressed against his throat.

Yet with one sharp movement, order is overturned. The balance of centuries is undone in the sudden spill of blood – and in the darkness, something terrible returns to Shiang.

Far to the west, four Shiang masters approach the city walls of Darien. The sword saint and his companions have crossed a continent to bring an old man home for punishment. They will not be denied, even if the whole city stands in their way.


Book review: Shiang by C.F Iggulden


Having thoroughly enjoyed Darien, I was very excited to see the second book, Shiang, available through the digital library and quickly borrowed myself a copy.

The first third of the book disappointed me. Several new characters were introduced, but one is kicked out of his own body within the first few chapters, a few are murdering mad-men and the other group fell completely flat in terms of personality. Switching between these different plot lines meant the beginning of the book was a little boring.

Staying with it, however, turned it into a tense, action-packed adventure that leaves you holding your breath, wondering how on earth the characters are going to get out of it.

The turning point was when the characters start to reach Darien. The return of Tellius as a main character instantly brought humour and sarcasm to the book: I loved him from the first and it was fun returning to his character and seeing how he had grown since the attack a few years previously. At the core, he still cares far too much about Darien and wanting to protect her citizens.

Tellius was not quite sure if he believed in the Goddess of Darien, but he had learned not to cross a vengeful woman and it cost him nothing to observe the forms.

Tellius acts as a central point to the characters. A group of swordsmen have been sent to find him, giving us insight into Tellius backstory. While that group were boring when they were travelling, they prove their worth once they enter the fray and their loyalties to the crown can never be called into doubt.

Gabriel is a cold-hearted killer who wants nothing more than the power of the stones of the great families of Darien. Unfortunately, the stones give him more power, making him almost invulnerable to anyone trying to stop him. You were left with baited breath, wondering if it was ever going to be possible for the good guys to bring him down – and what it would cost them to do it.

Marias was my favourite character. A slave in love with her master; she is prepared to follow Gabriel because it means there’s a chance she can save the man she loves: the man whose body Gabriel is currently inhabiting. She’s vulnerable and weak compared to the other characters, and it makes her bravery and determination seem more powerful than their courageous battle feats.

As mentioned, the beginning is slow paced and drags. But as the threat and violence increases, this is a gripping book that I was unable to put down, having no idea what the outcome was going go be. Tellius’ dry sense of humour and his bickering with the other lords cuts through that tension, giving you moments of respite even as the city burns.

There aren’t as many story-arcs as in Darien, but they come together nicely with memorable characters and feats of incredible bravery. There’s magic involved, but it’s an undercurrent to the characters and the setting rather than being a dominant feature. It’s the quest for magic, rather than the power itself.  

Don’t get put off by the slow start: this is an enjoyable read!

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A Rambling Reviewer

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40 thoughts on “Book Review: Shiang by C.F Iggulden

  1. I love how honest your review is and I’m glad to see that despite the slow start it was still a gripping read and you enjoyed it! I haven’t read the first novel or this one so I’d love to check it out, the synopsis for Shiang really drew me in

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! They’re not necessarily the strongest books out there, but I still really enjoyed this one in the end so would recommend them! Thank you!


    • This is fantasy rather than historical, so I don’t know how it compares to his other books. I’m the other way around, I haven’t read his historical ones yet but so excited to – I’ve heard such good things about them. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

      • He is a history prof. so the books he written before he did a massive check on. Like the book about khan he evern traveled to that part of the world and lived like they did at that time to really expiriance the culture and way of living himself. Its truly remarkerble.

        Liked by 1 person

    • It’s really enjoyable once it gets going. I’d definitely start with a copy of Darien first though to help you understand the world a little more.


  2. This sounds like a good read. I love when characters are in predicaments that leave you wondering how they’re going to get out of it. By the sounds of things, the only setback is the slow start!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely – I couldn’t figure out what they would have up their sleeves to rectify problems for sure. I’m glad I stuck with it after that start, but it did let it down a little. Thanks for stopping by!


  3. great review, i really enjoyed that you included both what you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about it so we could get the full picture. i’ve never heard of this book but it sounds interesting xx

    mich /

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I wanted to make sure it was balanced as there were a few things that let down the book for me, despite ultimately enjoying it. It was interesting.


  4. I’m glad it lived up to the first book, even if it was a slow start! I find it really difficult to get into a book if the previous one in the series followed different characters. I already love the characters from the previous book, so getting to know new ones seems like hard work haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly wasn’t what I expected due to the different characters, but it worked. There was a real sense of time moving on, which was refreshing. It was a sequel because of the world rather than the characters, which is a different approach than I’ve seen before and I really enjoyed that aspect.


  5. I’m glad to hear you stuck with this book and it turned out to be a gripping read. I’ve found this with many books – they don’t start the way I thought they would or I struggle to get into them and then … wow! This sounds like a fascinating plot with lots of interesting characters! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • It can be frustrating when that is the case, can’t it? Knowing whether to stick with the book or not, knowing it could either let you down or become really gripping! Thank you!


  6. It’s good you stuck with the book despite the slow start and it turned out to be enjoyable in the end. Tense, gripping and adventure-packed sounds like my kinda thing! Thanks for sharing your honest review Lindsey, it sounds like a real page turner and great the characters are so different and interesting! ❤ xx

    Bexa |

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! Yep, it definitely picked up and then I couldn’t put it down, which I’m glad about because I definitely enjoyed the first book and wanted to like it.


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