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(Empire of Salt #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,720 ratings  ·  311 reviews

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 strang
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 13th 2017 by Michael Joseph
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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James Tivendale
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, fantasy
I received an advanced copy of Darien: Empire of Salt via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank C.F. Iggulden, Michael Joseph, and Penguin Random House UK.

C.F. Iggulden is an alias of Conn Iggulden. The master of historical fiction who has released the critically acclaimed Emperor series and Conqueror series. The slight change of pen name is due to Darien being his first foray into creating a fantasy tale. Darien is the name of a huge city in this fantasy world that
Petros Triantafyllou
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Conn Iggulden is one of the greatest Historical Fiction authors of our times. Apparently he's damn good at Fantasy as well.

Darien, a city that is home to over a quarter of a million citizens, is the result of the fall of the mighty Empire of Salt, one of the greatest empires this world has ever seen. It is ruled by a puppet monarch whose strings are pulled by twelve aristocratic families; families that keep the order and preserve the peace. But when a bunch of mercenaries are hired to murder t
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Fantasy is my favourite genre and so when I was given this ARC by Netgalley I was thrilled to bits. I've never read any of Conn Igulden's historical fiction and so this was a completely new author for me.
The magic in this world was done with a light touch- my favourite was the boy Arthur. The strongest magical elements seem to have been remnants from a time long past, but here and there people had 'knacks' for certain magical skills. The story is told from multiple points of view, not all with
Dannii Elle
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
First Read: May 2017, Rating: 4 Stars
Second Read: September 2018, Rating: 4 Stars

When I saw that this was the newest release by renowned historical author, Conn Igguldon, I jumped at the chance to read it. I imagined his skill at recreating past societies with a wicked vividity would denote great things for his first foray into the fantasy genre. And I was almost immediately proven correct in that assumption.

This fantastical empire felt like an amalgamation of past culture with something undenia
Sebastien Castell
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
When I first saw that Conn Iggulden – an author famed for his historical fiction – had written a fantasy novel, I was immediately curious. Would the world-building feel credible? Would it be unreadably detailed and dense? Or would he go magic-and-dragon crazy and lose all sense of realism? The good news is that, as it turns out, great writers can work inside many genres and when they do, they bring their unique sensibilities with them.

Darien is fantasy novel very much in the spirit of sword-and-
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars

A solid first outing in the fantasy genre from this well known historical fiction author. Set for the most part in the city of Darien, the plot switches between several characters with their own strange and rare powers. Everything is formed by a world building that is both sketchy and specific, it flows in and out according to the needs of the scene rather than compiling a larger representation. The reader learns somewhat about the 12 Families that form the ruling classes of the city, b
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Been a fan of the authors historical fiction so thought I'd give this a read. Good solid fantasy without blowing me away. The plotting was solid, the magic system simple but nicely executed and the world/setting standard fantasy but couldve been developed a little more. The biggest downfall for me was the characterisation, as I felt there were too many characters/povs over a short period of time ( book is 330 pages or so) but with more than 5/6 main characters. I never really felt any connection ...more
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Darien is a city in the new fantasy series by Conn Iggulden. He is more known for his historical fiction books. This is his first journey into fantasy and is aimed at Teen and YA readers, but also works very well for adult audiences as well.

Darien is ruled over by Twelve families, with overall control lying with the King. He is only a weak figurehead, with all the decisions being made behind the scenes by the Families. The main characters are Elias Post from the village of Wyburn, he is the main
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Finally after suffering reader's block for weeks, I finished this one just before the month ended!!!

Conn Iggulden or C.F. Iggulden, one of the better historical writers, finally has his own fantasy world.........

Maybe because of the block I mentioned or something else, when I read the first few lines of his opening paragraph, I was looking for something captivating, and there it was, a telling of Elias story, no frills, no long winding description of the trail, how the leaves on the surrounding
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
** Apologies for this incredibly short/crappy review. I’m not feeling up to writing properly at the moment**

This was my first book by this author. I’ve got my eye on a couple of his historical fiction books but I decided to start with his fantasy novel to start things off.
For me it started off really strongly but seemed to dip off towards the end as it took some turns that I didn’t quite like. There were plenty of really interesting characters to enjoy and learn more about. Some of whom have so
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, fantasy

I saw this on NetGalley and having read and enjoyed the author’s series on Julius Caesar I requested this instantly. This is his first foray into Fantasy but it is set in a world where his historical background will have aided him in shaping the world. It felt like a Game of Thrones lite in that there were a number of viewpoints and nobody to really root for but it didn’t have the impact or the punch as that (earlier) series.

The magic in this world was quite an interesting aspect and allowe
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, fantasy
In brief - Not flawless but enjoyable.

In full
I was aware of this author's reputation as a writer of historical fiction and the idea of reading 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
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
This and other reviews can be found on my blog

2.5/5 stars

In Darien we follow multiple characters. We have the hunter Elias who lives with his family in a small town that is haunted by a devastating disease. He is forced to take action when they begin to fall ill and only his mysterious talent to see glimpses of the future can save them. Little does he know that this very talent will make him a pawn in a plan to overthrow the king himself.

Then we follow Tellius, a former warrior from another coun
Dee Arr
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
My thanks to NetGalley for a complimentary copy of this book.

Author Conn Iggulden has crafted an epic fantasy tale that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. This is sword and sorcery at its finest, with plenty of background information to keep the reader interested until the final page.

The book information touts this as a series, but you would never know it. Although there are untold stories that could branch off of “Darien,” this particular tale starts and finishes in one book. This is a stor
Mark Harrison
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marvellous story. Six superb characters - a strange orphan who can master anything he sees once, a veteran Fagin-like sword master looking for vengeance, a plague ridden hunter who can literally dodge bullets, a ruthless gunslinger, a young thief keen to raid an unbreakable tomb and a tavern girl with a strange power. All come together in the town of Darien where twelve families rule under a puppet king and one family plans a coup to rule them all. Amazing story, totally compelling, a nod to 'Ga ...more
Lynn Williams
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Darien is an impressive start to a series that looks set to become epic. I had a few niggles but overall I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading more from this world.

Unsurprisingly the majority of the story is set in the city of Darien. Darien is a huge city, it has a monarch but he’s little more than a figurehead, the real rulers of the city being the 12 noble families who keep peace with the threat of their own collection of magical artefacts t
Barry Mulvany
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is kind of like an old school heroic fantasy, none of the characters are your 'pure' heroes, there are dark and unpleasant aspects to all of them, but they all are generally trying to do the decent thing. There are quite a few POV characters. We have Tellius, an old man in exile who runs a gang of child thieves, Elias a hunter with a knack of seeings things, and Nancy a young women drawn into major events via a liaison with a young man called Daw. Those three are the main POV's but we also ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
Received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Penguin UK for honest read and review.

I thoroughly enjoyed this departure for Conn Iggulden from his Historic books.This was a really interesting and enjoyable read that had me from the First page.

This was a brilliant start to a new series that looks as if it is going to be really good and I cannot wait to read the next in the series.

Set in the city of Darien it shows us some of the colourful characters of this city and their Knacks.

A fine start.
This was unfortunately a DNF, I liked the writing style but I just don't feel like it brought anything new to the fantasy genre. Also it just seemed a little sexist to me, there were no female characters until like page 50! Maybe that changes but I just don't have the time or effort to read any more.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Iggulden's foray into the fantasy realm takes no prisoners. The grittiness of the tale is told with a razors edge prose. A great read!
Megan Leigh
Jul 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review originally appeared on Pop Verse.

C. F. Iggulden is the pseudonym of successful historical fiction writer Conn Iggulden. Darien is the author’s first attempt at a fantasy series, and a YA series at that. Having never read any of his previous work, I went into Darien knowing nothing other than this was a novel from a well-established writer. It was a shame, then, that it read like a first draft.

The characters in Darien exist entirely in service of the plot, without any inner lives of t
This took me a while to get into, and I think it's because there wasn't much differentiation between the characters within the narration at the beginning. That gets better though as the story wore on.

Good fantasy and well written. I'll be looking to read some of Iggulden's historical novels next.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
You may not (at first) recognise the author’s name: but readers of Historical Fiction may know of Conn Iggulden, author of nearly 20 fiction books, including the Emperor series set in Ancient Rome, and more recently his War of the Roses series. As if this wasn’t enough, he has also published non-fiction such as The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006).

Darien: Empire of Salt uses his considerable writing skills and historical knowledge to venture into a genre he has always considered a personal favouri
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, fantasy, ebook
This was such a cool book! A fun read, with an interesting way of pulling together multiple viewpoints.

We follow Elias, Tellius, Arthur, Daw, Nancy, and Deeds as they get wrapped up in the schemes of the Twelve Ruling Families of Darien, to catastrophic results.

Some of these characters are not normal human beings. They have "knacks", magical gifts which allow them to do extraordinary things, but also makes them ripe for exploitation. Control is a central theme of the book: how to take it and kee
Emma Robertson
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This is the first in a fantasy trilogy by Conn Iggulden however, it does not feel that way. It is apparent from the start that he is working to a historical timeline in the background which seats both the characters and the world building with firm and determined tension from the start.

Conn has an inate ability of managing the pace of this book so that you are drawn along with the story and never get bogged down with the indepth descriptions you sometimes get with other fantasy authors and would
Very confident writing. Work of the master, not someone new to the craft. Plus it has all the good ingredients in the mix: large city, intrigues, an ensemble of diverse characters (some with cool magical gifts)... but somehow it was lacking the oomph for me. My mind started to drift, pages started to skip and...I am migrating to something else instead.

I guess this may not be my kind of a book (throwing my towel in the ring to avoid a disappointment). But I totally see how others may enjoy it gre
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Iggulden branches out into a but of Fantasy. Nothing new and ground breaking but as always he is an accomplished story teller.
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
*copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review*

Darien is the start of a new series by C.F. Iggulden. Iggulden is perhaps better known for writing several series of well received historical fiction, but this is his first foray into fantasy.

Darien is a feudal city-state in a low-magic world. That world seems to share a certain amount of history with our own – there’s the occasional mention of Romans, for example. But there was a divergence – a grand empire, the Empire of Salt, formed and fell – and
Judith Moore
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Full review up on my blog:

So we have the classic epic fantasy multiple POV set up with six men and one woman (sigh) all of whom were supposed to be quite different but I just kept mixing them all up because I didn’t feel that they had particularly distinctive voices. The possible exceptions to this were Arthur and Nancy (given that these were a child and a woman it’s not that surprising that they were more distinctive than the sea of violent men that were the other characte
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Also publishes under author name C.F. Iggulden.

I was born in the normal way in 1971, and vaguely remember half-pennies and sixpences. I have written for as long as I can remember: poetry, short stories and novels. It’s what I always wanted to do and read English at London University with writing in mind. I taught English for seven years and was Head of English at St. Gregory’s RC High School in Lo

Other books in the series

Empire of Salt (3 books)
  • Shiang
  • The Sword Saint (Empire of Salt #3)

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